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'This is just everybody’s passion project': Happendance provides low-cost dance classes to all ages

Posted at 4:48 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-07 15:03:19-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Happendance is one of many dance studios in mid-Michigan, but there are a few things that set them apart.

One, they've been around for almost 50 years and second they provide low-cost classes and performance opportunities for people who want to dance.

This month, they're the recipient of FOX 47's Three Degree Guarantee.

Dance Lansing Performance
Happendance dancers and other studios came togethe to perform at their first indoor, in-person performance called Dance Lansing for the first time in 18 months.

After months of no in-person performances, dancers at Happendance took their places and performed for a live audience again.

“We had our first indoor dance performance in 18 months," said CEO and Artistic Director Missy Lilje. “It was a very special rebirth of celebrating dance indoors.”

Dancers came from all over to celebrate their love of dance together.

“We were celebrating a project we do call Dance Lansing,“ Lilje said. "We invite people from all different types of dance families and studios and environments to come together and just celebrate dance.”

Performance styles included lyrical, contemporary, jazz and hip-hop.

Lilje said it's fun to see dancers come together regardless of where their home studio may be.

“It’s so much fun to see people engaging together, collaborating together and, you know, nobody’s getting paid this is just everybody’s passion project,” Lilje said.

Lilje said Happendance has the goal of making dance accessible to everyone.

“Our purpose it to make dance accessible to everyone and our passion is concert dance,” Lilje said.

Emily Scott is a dancer and teacher at Happendance.

Emily Scott and Taiwo Adele both dance and teach at Happendance.

“I got involved with Happendance back when I was in sixth grade," Scott said. "I was at that time starting out in a local ballet company and the artistic director of the company was one of the teachers out at Happendance so she recommended I come out and start studying here and I’ve kind of been hooked ever since.”

“Happendance has the platform, the avenue that I seek to grow and improve and also contribute to the Lansing dance community,” Adele said.

Adele said he likes the culture the studio provides.

“I just feel like they have that culture, the community culture that I really really love, that I appreciate, the same culture I came from," Adele said. "Giving back to the community, the training they give to students who couldn’t afford classes.”

Some performers came from the Children's Ballet Theater and performed ballet solos.

Lilje said Happendance has around 150 students of all ages and all abilities.

Lilje said the studio provides a space for dancers of all ages and abilities.

“We work with people with all different kinds of abilities, cognitive and physical," Lilje said. "We have a class for people with Parkinson's, a class for ageless dancers. We have competitive dancers and concert dancers and amateurs and professionals.”

Lilje said having this space for all dancers is important for the community.

“When a group of people come together and express their thoughts and feelings through a vulnerable and humble medium in the arts like dance, it puts a ripple through the whole community of kindness, of generosity, of humanity, of compassion,” Lilje said.

Lilje said she's grateful to provide a space where dancers can come together and express their love for dance.

The Three Degree Guarantee awards $50 for every forecast that comes within three degrees of our 10 p.m. meterologist's predication. If the temperature is outside of that three degrees, we donate $100.

Happendance will receive the money at the end of August.

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Mikayla Temple

Mikayla Temple

1:39 PM, Jan 05, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Mikayla Temple

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