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Dancin’ to the beat from home

Senior online dance program tailors moves for all dancers

A new senior online dance program is now being offered with modified moves from the Zumba Gold program that makes it suitable for any dancer. Dance instructor Alesia Braund adjusts the moves in each dance session to make it enjoyable but also a challenge. The program comes in partnership with the Marquette Arts and Culture and the Marquette Senior Center. (Photo courtesy of Alesia Braund)

MARQUETTE — A new senior dance program is now being offered for area residents, and is suitable for all types of dancers regardless of experience or skill.

The Marquette Senior Center and Marquette Arts and Culture Center are partnering up to offer “Senior Dance – Virtual Classes” with dance instructor Alesia Braund leading the program. The classes take place from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. alternating between Wednesdays and Fridays beginning July 10 and tentatively through September.

The class is free for anybody over 55 years of age, and is tailored for beginners, Braund said, adding that the program is modified and loosely based after Zumba Gold — an easy-to-follow program that allows dancers to move at their own speed. With the senior online dance classes, the movements are adjusted to be slower at half-tempo. For example, if the dance is an eight-count beat, dancers would do four moves instead of eight.

“What I love about the Zumba program in general is that it’s for everyone, but Zumba Gold takes it to that next level and makes it so that it’s everyone including beginners or including people who may have issues with balance, coordination or just challenges in general that make it harder to follow a faster-paced class,” Braund said.

Before COVID-19 hit, Braund and senior services manager Maureen McFadden of the Marquette Senior Center had been talking about offering a senior dance class at the beginning of the year. But the pandemic led to adapting to the virtual tides and the class launched online in April with 27 people initially signed up. Now, each session consists anywhere from six to 15 people.

Braund said she focuses her dance classes for all ages and she was excited to get the senior community moving.

“I love teaching in general and I know that this is a population that tends to get left behind. They got lost more in the shuffle where people gearing everything to the younger generation and more active people, and I feel like seniors, especially the Baby Boomer generation, there’s so many people out there who are still very healthy, they’re still very active and it’s a fun way to move,” Braund said. “This is a population that needs to be targeted because so many seniors as they’re aging need to have things to do to keep them active and keeping them social is really important.”

Braund has a background in exercise science, advanced dance, personal training and zumba which makes her the right leader for the dance class, McFadden said, adding that she will adapt classes for anyone and give them proper instruction.

“It’s physically active so it’s something that keeps them physically active as well as mentally active and because it’s fun,” McFadden said. “It’s different every class, and honestly it’s something anyone can do. It’s any dance level. It’s really easy to follow and so that’s why we really encourage people if they’re interested to call the Marquette Arts & Culture Center and sign up.”

Even if someone does not have any background in dance, Braund makes the moves doable for anyone, McFadden said.

“It’s really honestly any skill level. Like I, for example, I am a very advanced dancer, I have a lot of dance experience and the class is tailored around beginners. So for me, I just did it as hard as I could do it. I went full out with it and I got a workout, let me tell you. It was great,” McFadden remarked.

Dancing from different cultural beats from salsa, Columbian and flamengo songs, Braund hopes to make the class satisfactory for all dance levels while also including era-appropriate, mainstream music from the 50s, 60s and 70s.

“So I try to keep it exciting and colorful and just try to mix in something new and I think that it always kind of keeps people on their toes. They get really excited when they hear, ‘Oh, this is a different song. How are we going to move to this?’ This is pretty exciting for them I think,” Braund noted.

At first, the movements are slowed down, keeping feet lower to the ground and arm motions closer to the body until students feel more comfortable taking it up a notch.

Being an instructor for a senior online class is so rewarding because it allows for Braund to connect with people from a different generation.

Until the pandemic desists and things are safe to fully reopen, the class will continue to be held virtually. To sign up for the senior online classes, call the Marquette Senior Center at 906-228-0456.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.

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