Coming soon: Just for Kix
At a time when most soon-to-be college graduates worry about where they'll work after school, UW-River Falls student Christina Carlini already knows.
Carlini graduates in December and will direct and instruct at River Falls' first-ever Just for Kix dance program, for kids 3-18.
The communication major/dance minor said a classified newspaper advertisement for the job caught her eye.
"It stood out because I've been dancing since I was three," said Carlini.
She soon set off to a three-day training conference to learn more about opening, operating and teaching at a Just for Kix school. Begun out of a basement by a Minnesota couple in 1981, the school includes about 150 communities and around 18,000 dancers in seven Midwestern states.
"They're really trying to expand into western Wisconsin," she said.
While Carlini doesn't yet know where she'll be holding classes -- the company usually starts in a school, church or other community building -- she intends to start holding them as soon as school starts.
The dancer said she'll hold an open house once she confirms the location.
She said Just for Kix classes happen one night a week from September-April and that children are separated by grade level. Tiny Kix takes ages 3-4, Wee Petites are kindergarten-1st graders, Wee Kicks includes 2nd- and 3rd-graders, and so on with Mini, Middle, Junior and Senior Kix.
She'll strive to get the kids out for five performances a year, and each student will be expected to purchase a uniform, but wears the same one multiple times.
"They're really cute and fun," she said about the selected uniforms. "They're very age appropriate and modest."
The base cost for classes is $23 per month for Tiny and Wee Petite ages and $26 per month for all kids second grade and up.
Carlini says Just for Kix teaches mainly fundamentals and teamwork.
Kids don't automatically advance according to skill level, the school isn't competitive and prefers that everyone work as a team. Each curriculum might contain a mix of fundamentals like jazz, precision kicks, poise and onstage confidence.
Carlini said teaching a mix of basic moves helps kids lay the foundation they need for whatever kind of dance interests them: Modern, hip hop, ballet, jazz, tap...
"We're not teaching them 'A' dance, we're teaching them 'TO' dance," she said.
Carlini is from Woodbury, Minn., but was born in Nebraska. She remembers her mom taking her to a theater production when she was three, piquing her interest in theater and dance.
She studied tap, jazz and ballet at the Larkin Dance Studio for nine years and joined competitive cheerleading in high school, helping choreograph the team's moves. Once in college, she landed a job as head coach of the St. Croix Central High School dance team, loved the job and led the team to a state competition.
"I fell in love with the dance program here," she said of the UW-RF curriculum that entailed learning about the history and ethnicity of dance.
Seeing it more in commercials and reality shows, Carlini thinks dance is gaining popularity. She describes her feeling about starting Just for Kix as excited and "really pumped." The dancer said the art builds excellent muscle memory and provides good exercise for children.
"We just want kids to have fun and...dance," Carlini said.
Contact her for class enrollment and location or open house information: 651-214-7853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.