Penguins dance the night away

Dan McCormick leads a student in a dance. Photo by Molly Burke / The Jambar

By Alex Sorrells / The Jambar

Students and community members can take ballroom dance lessons with a twist at Youngstown State University.

Consisting of around 15 members, the Dance Club meets from 7 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday in Room 100 of Beeghly Center. Each class, instructor Matthew Feehley teaches two ballroom dance styles but centers them around modern music.

Celeste Kapalin, a senior public and professional writing major and the club’s president, said ballroom dances are categorized separately.

“Ballroom kind of encompasses a number of dances. They fall under two categories called rhythm and smooth. We’ve done salsa, we’ve done waltz, we’ve done East Coast swing. It’s like those things you’d see on dancing with the stars,” Kapalin said.

Dances are performed in pairs, but attendees do not need to bring a partner to participate.

“The club [purpose] is to learn a new skill. You’re dancing with people you may not have met before or if you keep coming you’re dancing with people that you’ve seen every week. So, it’s a really great place to meet people,” Kapalin said.

Feehley is a YSU alumnus who has taught at Fred Astaire Dance Studio for 11 years. He said the class is taught simply.

“I just kind of plan out and help coordinate what kind of dances we’re going to be doing and then facilitate those dances to be done,” Feehley said.

No prior experience is required to join, as most members are new to dancing. Feehley said he hopes attendees can have fun while learning.

“I hope they take away a passion for dancing and maybe a newfound interest in something they hadn’t considered before, and I hope they come back and keep learning,” Feehley said.

Feehley instructs a class. Photo by Molly Burke / The Jambar

The club’s advisor is Dan McCormick, a professor and studio engineer in the Communications Department. According to McCormick, anyone who wants to learn how to dance is welcome to come to meetings, as his wife often attends.

“Very quickly during these classes, you start doing things that you’ve never thought you could do or even thought about doing,” McCormick said. “Within an hour, you’re doing some actual moves that actually look like something and that in and of itself is enjoyable.”

McCormick said the club helps attendees break out of their shells.

“One thing that this is good for is helping people with shyness because it’s one of the few things where you have to touch another person,” McCormick said, “That pulls you out of your comfort zone if you’re not used to it. But after a while, you realize that’s normal.”

According to Kapalin, the club aims to get involved in the Youngstown community.

“We try to do stuff at Sears and Avon Oaks and try to get involved in the dance community around Youngstown,” said Kapalin.

McCormick added the club hopes to work with other dance clubs.

“There’s all kinds of dance clubs everywhere, in every area, even in Youngstown. In years past, the YSU Dance Club would join up with other organizations in town and have combined efforts, which is a larger goal,” McCormick said.

In November 2023, the club hosted a masquerade ball where attendees could dance, enjoy food and drinks and participate in a mask contest. Kapalin said while she will graduate soon, returning officers are hoping to host a similar event in the fall.

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