BYU’s Adult Dance Camp for Young, Old

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    By Amy Kendall

    The Adult Ballroom Dance camp hosted by BYU, for the past 26 years, once again exceeded expectations.

    This year, the participants ranged in age from 18 to 85 and came from all over the country, said Jennifer Hsu, the assistant program administrator. Many of the program”s more than 500 participants have previously attended and will go to both of the camps held this summer.

    Participants said they return for the quality of the instructors and the rigorous schedule. The dance camp provides the opportunity for adults of all ages to learn from internationally renowned performers.

    This year, instructors included Jean Marc Genereux, who recently sat as a judge on the popular dance reality show “So You Think You Can Dance,” Tony Dovolani and Elena Grinenko, both of whom danced as pros on the reality show “Dancing With The Stars.”

    Throughout the week, students attended 30 hours of classes, each instructor teaching his or her specialty. Lee Wakefield, who directs the camp with his wife Linda, emphasized the importance of finding teachers who are not only recognized as outstanding performers but who are also excellent instructors.

    Robert Sowell, 72, from Orangevale, Calif., who attended his 36th camp session this June, appreciated the consistent high quality.

    Sowell, a dance teacher himself, often brings his students along for the trips. He considers this the best camp in the world and his biggest thrill is sharing that secret with his students.

    “I don”t tell people about things I don”t believe in,” Sowell said.

    Wakefield said the key to meeting the high standard they have set for themselves is in the details. The Wakefields have been directing the program since 1981 and though dancing has changed somewhat in the last 27 years, they have developed many checklists and procedures to ensure everything runs smoothly and participants enjoy their experience.

    “We want people to leave better dancers, have fun and be motivated to be better,” Wakefield said.

    Precariously balancing a bag of ice on her elevated leg, Phran Turner, 68, of Livermore, Calif., enthusiastically praised the program.

    “I”ve worn out my joints but I still keep coming,” Turner said, laughing.

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