by LAURA HAYES
Although the sun may be setting on the Winona Park and Recreation Department's Dance in the Park series, the night is still young. The department will partner with Stan and Molly Breitlow for the second annual “Latin at the Levee.”
“We started [Dance in the Park] last year, inviting people into their parks in a new way,” said Lydia Boysen, East Recreation Center and Skate Park coordinator. “Dancing is a good way to get to know people. It exists because we want people to go and get to know their neighbors.”
“Latin at the Levee” is the final bow in the Dance in the Park series, following on the heels of “Swinging in Sinclair,” “Waltzing in Windom” and “Merengue at the (Farmers) Market.” Each event highlights a different ballroom dance and this two-hour event will teach the basics of the rumba, cha cha and salsa. Don’t worry if you have dust on your dancing shoes! According to ballroom dance instructor Molly Breitlow, “Latin at the Levee” is open to dancers of all ages.
“We teach at a basic level,” Molly said. “It’s always at a basic level so that it doesn’t matter if we’re teaching someone in third grade or in their 90s. We use language and vocabulary relevant to whomever we’re teaching. We try to make it as accessible as possible.”
Last year, Boysen approached Molly and Stan with the idea of doing a dancing event outside. “She knew that we taught ballroom,” Molly said. “So we started to think about fun ways to name the dance along with the park.”
Molly met Stan when she was first learning how to ballroom dance. “I’m a product of watching 'Dancing with the Stars,'” she said. The pair began to teach throughout the region at studios like Misty’s Dance Unlimited in Onalaska, Wis., before settling in Winona. Molly and Stan currently teach beginning, intermediate and advanced classes through Winona Community Education. Their classes feature a wide selection of dances from foxtrot to tango to waltz.
“My favorite part [about teaching] is watching students get a surge of confidence over time,” Molly said. “Ballroom dancing isn’t a part of our culture like it was in the 1950s and many people are nervous to put themselves out there. We’ve seen people blossom in their personality. Since dancing, they’ve become a confident and secure person.”
Stan and Molly’s next six-week class will begin on October 26. To register visit stanmolly.com.
Latin at the Levee will take place on September 10 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Levee Park. The event will feature a breakdown of the three styles followed by an open dance. Attendees may either bring a partner or be partnered at the event. All ages and skill levels are welcome.
“You don’t have to have any skill,” Boysen said. “If you’re ready to have fun, this is the place to be.”