Senior Lesley Nash went from Yellowstone scenery to Ohio cornfields and found it hard to cope. So she taught colonial dancing.
Nash, a history education major, picked up this hobby during her time at Jackson Hole Bible College, a one-year Bible school near Jackson, Wyo.
“We were kind of in the middle of nowhere – tiny, tiny school,” Nash said. “Not much to do on nights when you’ve just finished a class.”
Nash said an alumnus who was also a professional dance caller in Virginia taught them the dances.
“We would always roll away the tables in the lodge, and he would teach us all these dances, and it was just the funnest thing,” Nash said. “We would start at 7 p.m., and we’d keep dancing until the wee hours of the morning. It was so much fun, especially since it was with good friends.”
Nash said that when she finished the one-year program at Jackson Hole and came to Cedarville, it was a tough transition for her.
“And so I went from one of the most beautiful places in the world like right by Yellowstone to cornfields,” Nash said. “And it was really hard for me. So I was just really craving a taste of my old school.”
In fall 2011, the first semester she was here, Nash said she emailed Mark Mathews, the director of campus recreation, about using the dance room for a colonial dance night, and he asked her if she would be interested in doing it every week as an exercise group instructor.
She accepted the offer and emailed the alumnus who had taught them the dances and had him email her the steps and his music for her to use.
Nash taught the class fall 2011, spring 2012 and fall 2012. Nash said the class started off every Thursday night with plenty of people coming, usually anywhere between 20 to 60 people.
“But because it’s every week, I’ve learned that when it’s every week, it’s not as special, and so fewer people start coming,” she said.
Nash said this is what contributed to her decision not to teach the class this semester.
“I was worried about numbers,” Nash said. “And I’m a senior, so I’m busy.”
However, she hasn’t given up her dancing completely. Nash is the vice president of the history and government organization Epsilon Pi Lambda (EPL), which has hosted a few events that included colonial dancing and which plans to do so again.
Senior Emily Hartman attended the dance class regularly from the very beginning and said that learning the dances was easy.
“All you need to know is left from right and how to count to four,” Hartman said.
She also said attending the dance class was a great way to relax after classes because it’s not too taxing on the brain, and it’s a great way to meet new people.
Senior Rebecca Miller, president of EPL, attended a few of the classes. She did not attend regularly at first because the class conflicted with her schedule but said it was a great experience when she did get the chance to go.
“I grew up watching ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and other movies based on Jane Austen’s books, and I thought it would be really fun to learn some of the dances,” Miller said. “And Lesley is such a great teacher, explaining and demonstrating each step of the dance, so it’s really easy to learn. It’s just a really fun way to meet other people, to dress up and enjoy some fun dances.”
Both Miller and Hartman described Vizzi – short for the invisible man – an imaginary dance partner Nash came up with to fill in when there is an uneven number of dancers.
Hartman jokingly described him as being perfect – the perfect dancer and Nash’s perfect boyfriend.
“It’s really funny, and it works out well, and it really goes to show how creative Lesley is,” Miller said. “Instead of telling people to sit out a dance, she figures out a way to include everyone, which I think is really great.”
Nash and Miller both said EPL is planning on doing another colonial dancing event in the spring.
Kate Norman is a junior journalism major and a copy editor for Cedars. Kate hopes to attend graduate school in Scotland and wants to live and work overseas one day.