A group of college students raise their hands, reaching for their partner. 25-year-old BYU student Logan Barnes calls out, “One, two, three, four, five, six, ready, go!”
As the dancers perform their practiced moves, Barnes, a senior, walks among them, perfecting their techniques.
Barnes said his teaching has given him the chance to impact dozens of students, both on and off the dance floor. “I have always wanted to teach dance,” Barnes said. “It has brought me so much joy and meaning in life that I want to share that with others.”
Barnes began as a teaching assistant before he eventually started teaching his own classes two years ago. He created his own curriculum for the students, teaching them a variety of dances, including Foxtrot, Cha Cha and Swing. “You can be a beginner or a professional and there is always more to learn and enjoy,” Barnes said.
Beginning his career
Barnes, who started dance at five years old, said he wanted to be a professional dancer since he was nine years old. “I set a goal when was young that I wanted to work hard and be good enough to dance with the BYU Ballroom Dance Company,” he said. “I am currently living that dream.” He is currently studying for a Bachelor of the Arts in dance, with a minor in ballroom.
Paul Barnes, Logan Barnes’ father, encouraged his children to learn how to dance when they were young. He and Susie Barnes met while they were dancing at Ricks College, now BYU Idaho. After the two were married, they put their children into a “peewee” dance team. “It’s fun seeing him follow in my footsteps,” Paul Barnes said.
According to Paul Barnes, while Logan Barnes’ siblings enjoyed their time dancing, he excelled. “He didn’t go halfway,” Paul Barnes said. “It wasn’t work for him, it was fun and enjoyable, so why not?”
Paul Barnes never thought that Logan Barnes would make a career out of dancing, but said he believes that he will succeed in teaching in some form. “You can tell how much he loves doing it, and if he can keep doing something that he loves for a living, go for it,” Paul Barnes said.
Logan Barnes met his wife while they were dancing. Now that they are married, they still dance “all the time,” creating another generation of dancers. He said he also plans on making dance available to his future children someday.
Dancing with others
Logan Barnes has had a team of people working with him since he started. “I have my coaches back in Idaho, teammate, dance partners, my parents, siblings, wife and now the BYU Dance department to thank as well for my experience,” Logan Barnes said.
This group of friends and family members helped him along his dance career and were there to support him when times were hard, Barnes said.
One such time forced his entire career to be put on hold when, in 2019, he began having seizures caused by a tumor growing in his brain. After an MRI, doctors were determined to operate as soon as possible, even as Logan Barnes’ dance team was preparing to perform in Blackpool, England. He said he remembers that as one of his greatest struggles.
“It was hard but I feel like it made me a better dancer,” Logan Barnes said. “I don’t take my good health for granted anymore. If anything, I am grateful for the trial opening my eyes to how lucky I am to be where I am at.” After recovering for a year, he was able to begin dancing again in 2020.
21-year-old BYU sophomore Shelby Simpson remembers meeting Logan Barnes in 2019 during her freshman year of BYU. During her first semester, while Logan was still recovering, Simpson’s dance coach referenced Logan Barnes’ determination to return to dance as an example for her class.
After Simpson met Logan Barnes the following semester, she was able to observe him for a class project she was working on. After serving a mission, Simpson returned to BYU and became a teaching assistant for Social Dance. Logan Barnes approached her and asked if she would be willing to be a TA for him as well, and she accepted.
Simpson said she admired Logan Barnes’ teaching technique, especially how he taught her how to help the students improve their dancing. “He said, ‘Notice how I do this, this, and this? This is because you need to help the kids do this,'” she said. These pointers from him gave Simpson the confidence and knowledge to teach her own classes in the future.
What the future holds
Logan Barnes’ teaching helps fulfill one of his major requirements. Once he receives his bachelor’s degree, he plans to receive a master’s of fine arts in dance.
Logan Barnes sees himself teaching and coaching students for the rest of his life. He is confident that teaching will help him give back to the community that provided him with so many opportunities.
“Dance is for everyone,” Logan Barnes said. “There are so many styles and avenues for dancing that I wish everyone had at least the basic skills to feel confident to participate.”
Logan Barnes plans to pursue his passion for as long as possible. “I don’t know what tomorrow brings but I am optimistic that if I cherish every moment that dance will bless me for the rest of my life,” he said.