Dance Class glides to a start at State Street Theater

NEW ULM — “Now remember, don’t put your heels down, watch for your steps and then forward, side, back.”

Seven couples watch intently as their teacher Gerhard Christ introduced them to the basic box step and later to the Foxtrot in their first lesson at the State Street Theater’s dance class Saturday. Christ is in his 80s, but when he steps on the dance floor, he glides over the parquet with a natural grace and ease. The native German, who migrated to the United States when he was nineteen, teaches a Ballroom Dance class at the State Street Theater this September, along with his assistants and self-proclaimed backup dancers Carolyn Borgen and Christina Miller Koester.

Borgen works with the State Street Theater as the bookings and events coordinator and is one of the assistants that help Christ with the execution of the dance class. She explained how the class came to be.

“This is a ballroom class offered in conjunction with State Street Theater and Parks and Rec. The idea was brought to us at an event called ‘Date Night’, after which a couple of people came up and suggested that we should do ballroom classes. So I came on, contacted Gerhard and roughed out and idea for this ballroom dance class. Then we went to Parks and Rec and talked to them about whether they would be willing to offer one. And here we are, with seven couples that have signed on so far and we are very excited about it!”

Miller Koester, who has produced musicals at the State Street Theater before helping Christ with his dancing class, reflects on what ballroom dancing means to her.

“Having this ballroom dancing class is great, because it is not an individual dance. You can’t just go out there and learn it on your own, you need to be with someone like Gerhard who knows what they are doing as well, and can pass on that knowledge to me.”

The goal for the group is clearly determined, as dancing teacher Christ explains: “This group is a beginner course, so what we want to do in this course is to have them be comfortable with the basic steps and maybe four different dances — Waltz, Foxtrot, maybe Rumba, the Polka. Do them without shortcuts, because it is on the basic steps that you do all your figures.”

Borgen says about the future of the ballroom dancing project that “the goal is to next time around have a beginner class, then an intermediate class and then an advanced class. And Gerhard’s longterm goal is to organize dance nights where people can come and put their skills to use. It kind of brings you back to the good old days of dancing. And it does help prepare for the summer production, if they want to sign up, since we want to do a Disney classic, that will have lots of dancing.”

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