Credit: Luke Deal | Mustang News

Students who find themselves getting a little chilly during winter quarter can now bring on the heat in a new Hip Hop and Heels dance class offered at the Recreation Center. The class is held every Thursday, from 7:45-8:45 p.m. No skill level is required and heels are optional, although students are recommended to bring thicker and shorter heels to prevent injury.

Experience industry management sophomore Sylvia Gilbar created the class at Cal Poly after a similar program inspired her. She has four years of teaching experience under her belt and is professionally trained in ballet, jazz and Bollywood. However, Gilbar said dancing to hip-hop in heels is a one-of-a-kind experience for her.

“I feel like wearing heels just brings more empowerment to your moves and just makes you feel more confident in what you’re doing,” Gilbar said. “Confidence is such a big thing for women and bringing heels to this campus . . . [will] bring more dance opportunities.”  

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Video by Kayla Berenson

The choreography is inspired by the sounds of contemporary hip-hop and pop music — as well as the strutting walks of Beyoncé — and is taught by Gilbar at a gradual pace. Students learn the moves by practicing short segments of a song and then splitting up into two teams near the end to go through the entire motion.

There is an emphasis on moving your legs and hips to the beat and “getting low” on the dance floor, squatting down and then following it up with a swish of the arm. At the end of the routine, it is one leg in front of the other, and then the dance is repeated.

Luke Deal | Mustang News

Gilbar said she wants to create a sense of comfort in her studio, as opposed to other dance programs that can make students feel like they have to compete with the person standing next to them.

“I want it to be a safe space for people to feel like they can do whatever they want in that class and really explore their creativity,” Gilbar said.  

Theatre arts freshman Alexa Kushner has been attending regular hip-hop classes since October but said she was excited to see a new offering for a class involving heels.

 “I went to an art school before this, so I danced a lot there,” Kushner said. “I needed that creative outlet to just get me out and performing so [when] I found this on the [Cal Poly] app, I was like, ‘I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna take a risk.’”  

Although dancing long and hard to artists like Ariana Grande is said to lead to occasional foot soreness, experience industry management sophomore Marissa Espinola said she does not mind it.

“She’s [Gilbar is] a great teacher,” Espinola said. “It’s very fun taking class with her. She’s very uplifting and positive and easy-going . . . it’s a very positive environment.”

So, those looking to take a step outside of their comfort zone this winter can know the Hip Hop and Heels class is only a short strut away at the Recreation Center.

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