So you think you can dance? JHU has an Intersession class for you

Members of SLAM Hip Hop student dance group lead personal enrichment workshops

Hip-hop class instructor dancing

Image caption: Bilyana Tzolova, SLAM’s executive director, teaches choreography to students in the Hip Hop: Movement and Culture intersession course.

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University students ditch their sweaters and coats for workout pants and tennis shoes in the class called "Hip Hop: Movement and Culture."

Members of the SLAM Hip Hop Dance Group, the university's only hip-hop team, instruct the personal enrichment course during Intersession.

Students stretching before hip-hop class

Image caption: Students stretch at the beginning of the hip-hop class.

Image credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Bilyana Tzolova, SLAM's executive director, said the class allows students who cannot commit to the dance team to learn hip-hop. Each meeting operates similar to a workshop, meaning students learn one full dance.

"It gives students a chance to try out a dance style that they normally wouldn't get to," she said. "And you get to interact with SLAM, and instead of just watching us dance, they can participate."

Members of SLAM take turns choreographing and teaching a dance during each of six classes. The style of choreography depends on who the instructor is for the day. Styles such as popping, locking, krumping, and breaking can fuse with more contemporary, classical styles such as lyrical or jazz, according to the course description.

One style of dance, taught by Tzolova, was what she described as sexy and femme. The choreography paired with Ariana Grande's "Side to Side" and allowed for moments of improvisation.

Princess Sutherland, a junior public health studies major, said she enrolled in the course because of her background in dance, including ballet, tap, and jazz. Sutherland is currently a member of JHU's field hockey team and seized the opportunity to take the class during a time when she did not have practice.

"[The SLAM members] are really good instructors," Sutherland said. "Choreography varies each day and music is modern pop and rap, so I really like it a lot."

The class also attracts beginning dancers looking for a safe space to learn, ask questions, and receive feedback.

"I think it's good because people can go outside their comfort zone," Sutherland said. "For example, this guy yesterday said it was his first time dancing. And he came to the class … and really enjoyed it. And he didn't feel uncomfortable in front of any of us."

Students dancing in hip-hop class

Image caption: Students learn choreography in the Mattin Center dance studio.

Image credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University