Youth step up in dance class
Allison Jones, back row right, leads students during a dance class at Fort Belvoir's Youth Center.

FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Timing, coordination and creativity are important aspects of a new dance class at Fort Belvoir's Youth Center.

Though, its instructor Allison Jones believes its biggest lesson may be letting youth be themselves.

Jones, a certified dance instructor and former radio disc jockey at a Washington, D.C. radio station, leads the hour-long class on alternating Wednesday and Thursday nights, starting at 5 p.m.

She has been dancing since she was 10 and is certified in numerous styles, including Latin, hip-hop, jazz, African dance and salsa.

She is also no stranger to the Army or to Belvoir. She is a former active duty Soldier with the Army Reserve and her husband, Jay, serves as a staff sergeant with the installation's 29th Infantry Division. Having lived on post years ago, Jones realizes the value of a class like this and what it can do for local youth.

"It's great exercise. It's also an outlet for them to meet one another, have fun and be themselves," Jones said. "The kids are polite and quite creative. They're also hilarious and we're having a blast together."

A typical class starts with students warming up to some yoga or classical ballet.

Its then on to several different routines with freestyle elements mixed in along the way.

Jones is excited to see what her students come up with. Though, once in a while, she will ask them to dial it down a notch.

"I'll catch them breaking out into something a little provocative. The music they listen to has those themes and I don't hold it against them," Jones said. "I just have to remind them they're still ladies. They understand and it's all good. They know I love them."

Between volunteering at the Youth Center and her full-time job, Jones knows how to keep a busy schedule. She began the class in November and interest continues to pour in. Roughly eight to 10 students ages 11 to 15 participate in the class weekly.

"The class is great and I love the different styles of music," said 12-year-old Ashley Davis, one of Jones' students. "She pushes you and will not let you give up on yourself. I really like that."

Another student, 12-year-old Elizabeth Oliver, also likes the approach Jones brings to the class.

"She lets us dance to what we like and lets us try things out on our own," Oliver said. "It's a lot of fun. She is a great teacher."

The dance class is free and held on alternating Wednesday and Thursday nights at the Youth Center. For information call 703-805-4515.

Page last updated Thu April 7th, 2011 at 14:30