Mˆle takes off

Elena Amesbury

No one seems to know the exact details surrounding the start of Mˆle, but originally it was a modern dance troupe.
Modern dance tends to be an extremely interpretive and inspirational form of dance. While it uses techniques often learned in more rigidly defined dance, like ballet or jazz, it aims to be more expressive and bend the rules.
Melee changed its goals in 2004, when the directors asked Jasmine Yep to “incorporate other genres of dance.” Yep explained, “Mˆle has since grown to include all genres of dance, including modern, ballet, jazz, tap and hip-hop.”
Yep is a national coordinator for ArtsBridge America, and came to Lawrence in 2004.
The dance backgrounds of Mˆle’s members are as diverse as the different styles they are encouraged to try. Many of the people present were women, but being a female is not a prerequisite for joining.
Neither is previous dance experience. Most of the students interviewed, however, had danced for much of their lives. Freshman Kirsten Rusinak says she danced “pretty intensely” since she was four until seventh grade. One of the Mˆle veterans, Sarah Wheeler, has been dancing for 18 years.
Years of experience help the more dedicated members lead the twice-weekly classes. Leaders and styles of dance are rotated in order to incorporate as many different styles as possible. Recently Gustavo Guimaraes led the group in a style of mixed contemporary and traditional Brazilian dance.
The class Guimaraes led began with warm-ups, some of which looked intensely grueling and thigh burning. Guimaraes then had everyone throw themselves on the floor, both backwards and forwards, in increasingly short intervals of time as part of a focus exercise.
After everyone’s hearts were beating quickly from the exercise, Guimaraes began teaching a routine that they learned in pieces and then danced. One of the unvoiced rules that night was that everyone was to know the limits of her body, and she was to dance accordingly. No one ended up hurt or over-danced.
Rusinak commented on Guimaraes’ style. “It was interesting and neat to learn a different kind of dance,” she enthused. Mˆle is “a lot more relaxed [than other groups],” she continued. “The dancers aren’t snobby. They’re just a bunch of people who have a similar interest that they want to continue.”
The goal of Mˆle is to encourage different people to experience and enjoy many different styles of dance. Dance can be a way to get in touch with your body and to get a workout while being creative.
Practices are Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:15 until 9:15 p.m. in the multipurpose room at the Rec Center. There will be a recital midway through second term.
To join, simply show up and start dancing.