Dancing with a winner

Published 3:08 pm Friday, January 23, 2009

The Dance Studio of Luverne was in for a treat last Wednesday when Joshua Allen, last year’s winner of “So You Think You Can Dance” gave hip-hop lessons to students from Crenshaw and surrounding counties.

Two different dance classes were held Wednesday evening to accommodate for the dance levels of the students’ dance classes.

“Most kids never have had this opportunity,” said Stephanie Jones, owner and director at The Dance Center.

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Some of the students traveled from Montgomery and Troy to attend the workshop.

“He (Allen) just got finished with the ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ tour around the country and was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to visit some of the small towns in Alabama,” said Jones.

Allen, who is just 19 years old, is originally from Texas and had never been to Alabama.

Even though he is a celebrity, coming to a small town like Luverne certainly helps his publicity as well as his popularity.

During the summer, the dance studio usually has different guests, and the opportunity for Allen to come teach the workshop just happened to work out for last week.

So Jones divided up the students in the different sessions.

Since the younger dancers are based on ages, they started the workshop first, which ranged from second grade up to seventh grade.

Allen helped the young dancers stretch and warm up before breaking down the hip-hop routine. He helped the girls by breaking down the steps

Allen, who stands around six feet tall and is built like a linebacker, towered over the young dancers.

“They were excited to have someone like him to come and teach them,” said Jones.

Allen broke off two sides of the class and had them take turns watching each group move along to the song “Step” by the singer Mya.

The second session was comprised of the intermediate and advanced students, from seventh grade up to college students.

With moves a little more difficult to master, the advanced students quickly caught on as Allen wasted no time before moving on to the next steps.

“If you work hard enough, big things can happen,” was another lesson that Allen made sure the girls knew.

Before becoming the “So You Think You Can Dance” winner, Allen never had former dance training.

“He taught the girls that you don’t have to be trained your entire life,” said Jones.

Even though different dance teachers have different styles, the one thing they all have in common is making sure their pupils stay focused.

Dance teachers teach the whole time and the students are not allowed to talk, so it takes a lot of maturity and discipline to be in the class, says Jones.

“But we were really pleased with the turnout, and the girls all enjoyed it and worked really hard.”

After the workshop, Allen took the time to take pictures and sign autographs for the students.

Allen resides in Los Angeles and continues to tour around the United States and Canada.