NORTH LIBERTY– Just For Kix dance studio has a new leader, a new location and a new season right around the corner.
Andrea Steffen of North Liberty recently took over the dance program in North Liberty after the resignation of former director Marjorie Lane. The program has been part of the community for just three years, each year doubling in enrollment from the year before. With last year’s participants numbering 60 families, Steffen has set a new goal for the studio’s upcoming season.
“I hope to have 100 families to start the year,” said Steffen.
It’s an ambitious goal, but Steffen has done this sort of thing before. She served as head instructor for the Cedar Rapids Just For Kix program, in which 270 families participated. Steffen also directed the start-up Just For Kix program in Marion.
Just For Kix is headquartered in Minnesota, founded by Executive Director Cindy Clough approximately 25 years ago. The program now operates in 180 communities throughout seven Midwest states. The instructional program incorporates various styles of dance and is geared toward teaching teamwork, cooperation and positive self-image, as well as excellence in dancing. Both experienced and novice dancers are welcome.
Steffen, a Decorah native, gained an affinity for the program during her senior year in high school, when she performed with the Just For Kix troupe that entertained thousands of fans at the Tampa Bay Outback Bowl.
Though Steffen has been committed to Just For Kix for awhile now, dancing is just one of her passions. She attended the University of Iowa to study communications and psychology, then later also went to school for cosmetology. While at the U of I, she took a few dance courses.
“I’ve been dancing from the time I was about 4 years old,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed dance but wasn’t sure I wanted to make a living out of it.”
She sees Just For Kix as the fun part of any work day, and strives to bring that sense of fun into her classrooms as well.
“Just For Kix is not a competitive program,” she said. “We want kids to have fun in a positive environment and learn to enjoy dancing.”
Just For Kix teaches a little bit of every style of dance: hip hop, ballet, lyrical, kick, and jazz. Steffen varies the routines and skills taught from class to class and year to year.
“I always look at the class as a whole and individually, and then build a routine from the strengths of that particular group, and think about new ways to challenge them.”
Since dancers can join Just For Kix at the age of 3, even a simple routine with props– a staple in the Just For Kix program– can be challenging.
“It takes a lot of work for our minds to be aware of our own bodies, and also the props you are moving around with, and where you are in relation to the other dancers,” Steffen said.
Perhaps one of the most appealing features of the Just For Kix program is its overall affordability: instead of purchasing several costumes for recitals, each dancer purchases just one costume and wears it at all of the scheduled four-to-six performances throughout the dance season. Classes put on winter and spring shows, and also perform at other community events, such as Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball games, local high school basketball half-times and area parades.
“We try to choose venues that are both family-friendly and cost-friendly,” said Steffen.
Steffen has also been known to save parents money by making her own props for the prop routines.
“Prop fees are never more than $5 or $6,” she said.
Other money-saving moves are the program’s low, $12 registration fee, easy monthly payment plans for classes, and a chance for little ones to try the program almost risk-free.
“We do have special eight-week sessions so younger dancers can get a feel for dance without committing to the whole year,” Steffen explained. “We don’t want costs to get in the way of somebody’s desire to dance.”
Parents are welcome to come and observe classes, once they get under way, in the brand new Just For Kix studio at 1310 Kennel Court in North Liberty, just off 240th Street. Steffen will be sharing studio space with Shauna Holm, director of Rebel Extreme, a cheerleading, gymnastics and tumbling program that has a philosophy and a mission similar to Just For Kix.
“I’m very excited about the new studio,” Steffen said. “The dancers will have more opportunities and will be able to have more focus in our own studio.”
Formal registration takes place Aug. 24, but interested dancers can register now, or get more information from the website at www.justforkix.com , or email Steffen at firstname.lastname@example.org . Call (563) 380-5920 with additional questions.