Palestine Magazine January 2019 - Page 27

DANCING Dance studio brings new vibe to Palestine A fter dance performances in Las Vegas and Tokyo, Shana Hansen, 40, has returned home to create a new vibe in downtown Palestine — a fine arts studio that covers a lot of artis- tic ground. Hansen learned to dance from Carole Bentley, owner of Palestine’s Academy of Dance. Hansen, however, plans a broader platform for New Creations, offering voice lessons, musical theater, tumbling, and even a creative movement class for 2- and 3-year- olds. Moreover, dance lessons of all forms — ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and funk — are available for kids and teens, while adults can join the cardio pump class. The studio, 101 W. Oak St., stands hand- somely at Main and Sycamore streets. Prac- tice rooms are light, airy, and open. Large windows bathe the studio in natural light, while wall-length mirrors allow students to learn by watching their movements. Hansen’s broad vision for bringing fine arts to her hometown arose from performing and teaching. She also needed to live closer to family members willing to help with her two children, ages 2 and 6, while her husband travels two weeks each month for work. Her grueling schedule in Oklahoma City included teaching classes and developing the fine arts program at Ulysses S. Grant High School; teaching at Modern Dance Arts, a studio in Norman, Oklahoma; and caring for young children after work. Hansen developed a passion for perform- ing at Oklahoma City University, earning a bachelor of arts degree in dance performance, then performing in off-Broadway musicals in Las Vegas. She also traveled to Japan after 9-11 to star in an aerial performance, titled “Under the Sea,” at Tokyo DisneySea, a theme park near Tokyo. After nearly 30 years of performing, Hansen has learned collaboration underpins successful performance. She has recruited the talents of Leslie Hooe, choir director for Palestine High School and Junior High, and Gabby Denton, who teaches tumbling classes and fills in for other teachers so classes can stay on schedule. Courtesy photo Victor Valdez, 20, of Oklahoma City, is another recruit who moved to Palestine in August to help Hansen open the studio and teach full-time. Valdez learned to dance seven years ago, after he was randomly placed in a jazz class at his junior high school in Oklahoma City. At first, he was unhappy, but he soon loved it. “I like being able to create my emotions and express my pent-up feelings,” Valdez said. He continued taking dance at Ulysses S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City, where he studied with Hansen and others, and worked part-time at Modern Dance Arts in Norman. After graduating, Valdez went to work with his father in construction in Okla- homa City. In 2018, Hansen called Valdez and asked him if he wanted to work at a new studio she was planning. He had never heard of Pales- tine, Texas, but he wanted to try something new. Valdez said he misses the night life of Oklahoma City, as well as other activities, but his work adds to New Creations’ diversity. With Valdez, New Creations can offer more styles of dance — hip-hop, funk, dance for musical theater, and adult cardio groove. That leaves Hansen free to focus on teaching ballet, tap, and jazz. With two large practice rooms and smaller rooms for voice lessons, the studio often runs more than one class at a time. Valdez’ favorite dance style is hip-hop, which allows spontaneity and free expression. Popping, waving, and gliding, he said, can break the ice at parties or social events. Dance can especially help boys, who need an outlet for personal expression and emo- tions they are conditioned to suppress. “It’s like a sigh of relief,” Valdez said. “The studio is a judgment-free zone. We accept everybody.” Valdez and Hansen are focused on includ- ing a wide a range of students to encourage performance and self-expression. Now, two boys are enrolled in classes at New Creations; the studio encourages more to sign up. “My son is not sure if he wants to dance because there are no other boys (in his age group),” Hansen said. JANUARY 2019 27