The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Promoting self-expression, not aggression through dance at DePaul’s Ray Meyer Fitness Center

Whether a biology, theater or business major, students everywhere feel the pressure of school and expectations, and many seek a creative outlet to let off steam before they go insane.

“Let your freak flag fly,” Jaimee Jaucian, a hip-hop instructor who has taught for 10 years, said after teaching a choreographed dance to Diplo’s “Express Yourself,” which happened to be an appropriate title for the theme of the hour-long free session of hiphop dance April 10.

The workout studio at the Ray Meyer Fitness Center was packed with students learning steps (like the “Stanky Leg” and “Turtle Neck,” to name a few) as part of Sexual Assault Awareness month. The purpose of this event was for college students to find a positive and creative outlet.

“I expected only, like, two people to show up,” an elated Jaucian said after teaching a roomful of approximately 30 cheery DePaul students, clapping and cheering every time a new dance step was successfully learned. At the end of the class, Jaucian had her students perform a dance-off in groups, which sparked vigor and oomph as one half of the room went wild and the other half, sweating, mirrored and kept up to the beat of their hip-hop “frenemy.” Everyone was happy to participate, and it brought an optimistic connection between everyone in the room.

What made this event such a huge success was the positive environment created by people who embraced the fun approach to physical fitness and dance therapy.

“I’m so glad I came,” student Nicole Gianni said. “I had never done it before, and I didn’t realize (hip-hop) would be this fun.”

Known as dance therapy, fitness instructors are not only trained to choreograph dance moves, but are also professional counselors – their main purpose is to encourage and connect the mind and the body productively.

Shannon Lengerich, who originally was Jaucian’s dance instructor, is now the director of the Office of Health and Promotion and Wellness at DePaul. She also participated in the hip-hop class.

Lengerich also practices yoga on a regular basis and mentors students with her uplifting personality to practice healthy creative outlets – whether it be dance, art or music therapy, Lengerich and Jaucian stress the importance of self-expression. This particular class applied both freestyle and choreographed hiphop as a means of letting go and embracing the moment.

“(Hip-hop) makes you feel so grounded, connected and celebratory – hip-hop has taught me to let go,” Lengerich said.

Jaucian, who admitted to making up the choreography the night before this session, proved a point about creative outlets – Jaucian is doing what she loves most and that is hip-hop dance. Jaucian, who is now 33 years old, studied at Columbia College. Though she began as a figure skater, Jaucian has now found a comfortable niche in hip-hop. Jaucian enjoys implementing her original dances into intense, high-energy music.

“So when are we going to have one of these again?” Jaucian’s eager students asked at the followup Q-and-A session.

The DePaul Health Promotion and Wellness program is always open to opportunities to partner and produce other programs, similar to the hip-hop class.

“The biggest thing for dance is to express yourself,” Jaucian said. “It’s the reason that I live.”

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