Soulful, joyful dancer
This article has been read 491 times.
For someone who considers herself terrible in all sports humanly possible, Jackie Stroup, 22, joined an ethnic folk-dancing club called The Ethnic Express at the Community Center, where she discovered personal joy by dancing with 80-year-olds.
After joining The Ethnic Express in 2009, Stroup realized the club was more than just cultural dancing. Spending quality time with the elderly gave Stroup a broad spectrum of life.
Stroup got the idea from a family friend who brought it to her attention through a local magazine.
“Nothing is better than having genuine conversations,” she said. “The elderly have so much knowledge and wisdom to offer.”
While growing up, Stroup lacked involvement in many physical activities but her passion for trying new things helped her bloom.
“The cultural aspect of this group is wonderful,” Stroup said. “It feels great knowing I’m learning something new with people who know so much.”
Stroup’s favorite cultural dance is Russian, saying that it is “silly and fun.”
Stroup’s friend Chelsea, who suggested the club, moved away to join the Peace Corps and The Ethnic Express did an honorable African dance on her behalf. Stroup said it was one of her favorite moments.
Jessica Benson, Stroup’s sister, also got involved with The Ethnic Express after she suggested it. Together, the sisters enjoyed the company of the elderly.
“Jackie is very into trying new things,” Benson said. “She leans toward things that aren’t mainstream, hence The Ethnic Express.”
The person who inspired Stroup the most was Dick Killian, the founder of the club. He had a passion for dance and bringing people together.
“As long as the club is active I will be a part of it,” Stroup said. “I enjoy the opportunity as a college student to interact with people I normally wouldn’t.”
Another facet of the club that Stroup found intriguing was that even though the members were 85 years old and older, the group consisted of lawyers, authors and educated people.
“We met a woman named Hattie who was very interesting,” Benson said. “She once mentioned a book she wrote called Sex and the Single Senior: A Cougar’s Search for Love. Jackie actually found it at a bookstore.”
Stroup quickly realized these people were no ordinary senior citizens. They were people full of life and insight on the youth. She recommends anyone who has a passion for learning new things and meeting people to try The Ethnic Express.
Stroup admires anyones perspective when it comes to life. She says there is much to learn if you listen to those around you.
The Ethnic Express motivates Stroup to be carefree and lively.
“There is no judgment passed when it comes to dancing,” Stroup said. “These people adore you because you adore them.”
Stroup never practiced dance before the club. She says it brings out the jubilation in everyone.
Stroup learned that not only is it active, but it brings out the bliss in you. She enjoys Scottish, African, Russian and many other cultural dances they offer.
“The best part is watching everyone smile and laugh at themselves,” Stroup said. “Nothing is more enjoyable than looking silly and having fun with happy people.”
Stroup doesn’t care about the ages of people or their ability to do something. Being around good company keeps her interested. Stroup is currently studying secondary education with a teaching field of English at UNLV, and doing her second semester practicum at Liberty High School so she hasn’t had much time to visit the club lately. But she gets enthusiastic just talking about her experience nonetheless.
“All these people come together in one group and express 100 emotions and feelings,” said Stroup. “I believe that is the key to helping everyone become closer.”
Stroup will continue to attend dance nights as long as she can. Using the knowledge and insight she has gained from joining the group, Stroup knows this experience will stick with her forever.
“If there was one message I could give to my peers, it would be to step out of their normal routine once in awhile,” Stroup said. “You never know who you will meet and what an impact they could have on you as a growing person.”