Ballroom Dancing Waltzes onto Campus

July 7, 2010

La-Keasha M. Brown

Ballroom Dancing Waltzes onto Campus

VALDOSTA -- As the summer unwinds and students prepare for the upcoming fall semester, Dance Area Head Eric Nielsen is busy taking ‘quicksteps’ to choreograph a VSU Ballroom Dance Club.

The professor of Communication Arts and several dance students created the organization to provide affordable ballroom dance instruction to students, faculty and staff. The Foxtrot, Quickstep, Tango and Swing are among traditional ballroom techniques that will be explored; but Nielsen said examples of American and Latin competitive dances will also be taught.

“We had our first free open class at the end of the spring semester and about 55 people attended,” said Nielsen, who created the dance emphasis program at VSU in 1986. “I think everyone, whatever skill level they possessed when entering the class, left with a sense of accomplishment and anticipation for what might be offered in the fall. A beginning student will find that it is not only a great opportunity to learn about different ballroom dances, but an excellent way to meet new people on campus.”

Nielsen said television shows such as "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" have stimulated great interest in various forms of formal dance, which the club will break down in a comfortable, educational environment open to the entire VSU community. A dancing partner is not required. Members will be encouraged to work with a variety of partners as they enjoy the benefits of dance as expression.

“What today’s student experiences in rediscovering the values of traditional ballroom dance, is the incredible sensation that he or she feels when moving with another in time, space and energy,” said Nielsen, who has served as a director/choreographer for Peach State and other summer theatres for the past 35 years. “There is no one word that can explain the feeling; even seeing it performed well doesn’t surpass the emotions while actually executing the ballroom movements with a partner.”

The club plans to hold weekly classes as well as a ballroom exhibition, which will showcase the efforts of club members and the associated exhibition team expected to compete at college and university competitions. Nielsen said the club hopes to promote the club through a benefit “Dancing with the Scholars,” during which club members will pair up with administrators, faculty and staff for an evening on the dance floor.

“Students not only want to learn more about ballroom dancing as a social activity, they are also interested in competing, and we hope to provide outlets for both interest groups,” said Nielsen, who in 2003 was named Dance Educator of the Year by the Georgia Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. “But before placing the cart before the horse, we will focus first on acquiring the technical skills required for competition. If we don’t compete immediately, we will still have an opportunity to show team choreography at exhibitions, community and school functions.”

Those interested in participating in the VSU Ballroom Dance Club may register for membership online at or by attending upcoming meetings and classes, for which dates and times will be posted on the main club website,

For further information about meetings, events, or to schedule classes for your department, call Nielsen, at 229-333-5840 or e-mail him at