Dancing through the difficulties

Ante Up continues virtual classes to give students opportunity to dance

Daniel Newman, Sports Editor

Junior Christy Anne Villanueva teaches Ante Up Dance classes virtually from Hawaii. (Courtesy of Rhandy Villanueva)

First, the infectious music hits your ears, causing you to look to the left to see where the sound is coming from. Next, your eyes are captivated. A group of 20 to 30 people are dancing, following whoever is leading the class that night, some with more success than others. Whether you’re impressed or confused about why people are dancing in the middle of Emerson Hall lobby, they’re definitely noticeable.

This is Ante Up, where students are taught different choreographed dances, led by different leaders of the club and members of the Seattle community.

Ante Up also has a performance group, which students can audition for. This performance group won the school talent show in February of 2020.

Eight months later, the classes that once took place in the dorm halls and practices that happened in the lower level of the Student Union Building have now been put on hold. Instead, Ante Up’s most recent class was held on Wednesday, Oct. 7, over Instagram live. Secretary and Co-Event Coordinator Delina Stifanos led viewers in a short routine to Chris Brown and Young Thug’s song, “Go Crazy.”

“We tried Zoom our first week, and it didn’t really work out the way we wanted to do it, and then spring quarter before, we did Instagram live, and a lot of people said they liked that one better,” President and Co Performance Group Director Christy-Anne Villanueva said.

First-Year Stephanie Menegon has now been to both meetings of the club this year, marking her first experiences with the group. Menegon has been dancing since she was four, and was in her dance studio three to four days a week before quarantine hit. She was eager to get back into dancing after having to take a break from it during quarantine.

Menegon loves the positive space that the group creates. 

Everyone is encouraging and hyping up one another even if it’s your first time meeting them. I love that you do not need any experience to be in the club, everyone is welcome — it ties in with the positivity of the group because no matter your dance background, the members will always support you,” Menegon said.

Villanueva joined the club in her freshman year for a similar reason. 

“I was moving away from home… and I wanted to keep dancing in some way, shape or form, any way that I could, and Ante Up was a space to do that and meet a bunch of other people who also like dance,” Villanueva said.

Now, Villanueva is one of the people who choreographs routines for classes. The process begins for Villanueva by finding the correct song.

“I want it to be a song that people like and recognize, but then also, I want to make sure that [the dance is] my style”, Villanueva said.

From there, Villanueva will listen to the song over and over in front of the mirror while moving her body to the music. She does this until she has a full set of moves and a piece she believes is worth teaching to others. 

Teaching is more difficult through virtual methods, as the teacher can’t see the dancers and the dancers have to mirror the teacher’s movements if the teacher is facing them. 

Even with all the challenges, Villanueva and her team are pushing forward. 

“We really want to create a space, even if it’s online, for people to just let loose, have fun, honestly just feel the music and just dance it out,” Villanueva said. 

So far, it seems Ante Up has succeeded in creating that space for at least one new person.

“I almost forgot how important dance was to me because I didn’t have many opportunities to participate in any dancing through summer,” Menegon said. “I know that the social distancing and being safe will be worth it in the end when I can actually meet all these great people.”