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The NewSLU

Dancers Swirl and Stomp for Core Credit

Flamenco and Latin Dance classes have moved off campus and now fulfill the creative expression requirement
Namita Chawla
Students strengthen their muscles at the start of a recent dance class at the off-campus studio.

The dance classes have moved off campus and now include a theoretical part that can count as core credit.

Starting in Fall 2021, dance classes moved permanently from the dance studio on campus to a dance academy off-campus so they would no longer to disturb other classes nearby.

“You couldn’t have a class downstairs in the auditorium, the Zapateria is too loud!” María Jesús Peces Barba, the dance professor, said.  The new studio is located on Calle del Conde de la Cimera, 4 – a five-minute walk from campus. SLU Madrid rents this studio out from Monday to Thursday for both the Latin Rhythm and Flamenco classes, Peces Barba said.

In the past, these classes were solely an elective option and a few semesters ago they were added as part of the new core. Flamenco and Latin Rhythms are now available to fulfill the creative expression credit in the curriculum. The development into the core meant the dance classes had to add a theoretical section, as well as a practical part that counts toward the final grade. In the theoretical component of the class, students learn the history and development of the different dance styles and the technical names for steps. They are tested on these theoretical components with a quiz after every module, and must complete a journal entry to reflect on what they have learned and struggled with during the practical part.

The dance classes have growing in popularity since they were to the core curriculum. They also have become a beacon for study abroad and permanent students eager to learn about the culture.

“For most students, this isn’t a dance class, this is a cultural experience,” said Peces Barba. The classes offer students the opportunity to learn Spanish and Latin dance while studying in Spain and end the semester with a final performance.

“It’s part of my culture, and I feel obligated to learn even the basics,” said Adrian Ortiz, a junior from Colombia.

The two practical dance classes offered are Latin Rhythms taught by Maria Jesus Peces-Barba, and Flamenco Spanish Dance, taught by Yolanda Granados. Latin Rhythms involves all dance styles related to the Latin world including Bachata, Salsa, Merengue, and Kizomba.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to dance while being a study abroad until I found this class,” said Noella Conner, a junior. The most popular styles that are taught are Bachata and Salsa, said Peces-Barba.

Flamenco dance is the style associated with the “identity of Spain,” said dance professor Yolanda Granados. Flamenco highlights the art of detailed footwork, arm positioning, and las palmas.

There is no plan for the new SLU buildings to open a dance studio, and for now, the off-campus studio is “comfortable,” said Peces-Barba.

However, the off-campus studio has proved inconvenient for some students. “It sometimes doesn’t even feel like I’m taking a SLU class!” said Paulina Guerrero, a senior. “The short walk doesn’t feel short when you’re walking up that hill.”

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