Adults "still kickin'" in St. Louis

It is Saturday morning, 10:00 a.m., in St. Louis, Missouri, and a group of dance students has begun a traditional jazz warm-up with their teacher. After twenty-five minutes have passed, the students pair up for progressions across the floor, practicing their battements and pirouettes. Everyone returns to the center of the room to polish a funky combination they have been learning over the past several weeks, then continues with additional jazz choreography.

What makes this dance group unique? The dancers range in age from 25 to nearly 60.

Ten years ago, at the age of 26, Kari James began forming dance classes for adults only in St. Louis. Her love of funk/hip hop was her motivation to offer this type of jazz class to adults who knew they were not too old to enjoy all styles of dance. With an extensive background in tap, she also began classes that emphasize technique and rhythm following up-to-date tap trends.

A native St. Louisan, Kari began training in St. Louis, but she continues to broaden her style by traveling across the United States, primarily to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, to bring the newest innovations to her classes.

Kari's style has been influenced by various jazz masters with whom she has studied: Frank Hatchett in New York, Joe Tremaine in Los Angeles, and tap greats such as Pat Rico, Sarah Petronio, and Savion Glover. Her tap skills were rewarded when Director/Choreographer Toni Kaye invited Kari to perform in a 1993 Los Angeles revival of the burlesque musical "Sugar Babies."

Currently working under the name Kari James Dance Network, Kari's students represent adults whose lifelong love of danc has kept them performing and studying even thourh most have careers in other professions. Over the past ten years, this group has performed at various local events such as fashion shows, arts festivals, and nationally known dance competitions.

The goal of the Dance Network has been, and continues to be, to encourage dance education and performance at all levels and, most importantly, for all ages.


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