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Dance program moves ahead at Barton Community College
Barton prepares for 50th anniversary
bcc dance danika
Barton Community College Dance instructor Danika Bielek talks about her program’s first year and plans for the future, Tuesday at the BCC Board of Trustees meeting. - photo by Susan Thacker

Barton Community College dance instructor Danika Bielek told college trustees Tuesday that she plans to expand the popular Dancing for Mobility classes; develop summer classes and a summer dance workshop; and implement a fundraising plan for Barton Dance Theatre. Bielek also plans to recruit more students who are seeking degrees in dance while she works on transfer articulations with dance departments at universities.

Not to be confused with the Dance Line athletic program, the dance program was relaunched this past year to present dance as an art form rather than a sport, Bielek said. The college first started this program in 2002 with Cheyla Clawson as an adjunct instructor, but it was discontinued. Clawson is now a dance instructor at Wichita State University.

Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman told the board that “things have gone quite well” since Bielek started and Dean of Academics Brian Howe said enrollment has exceeded first-year expectations. “I was very impressed,” Heilman said.

Barton Dance Theatre, the college’s resident student dance company, started the spring semester with seven members and one dance major; students enrolled in 47 classes for 75 credit-hours.

Bielek has considered students who want an associate degree in dance, who may want to transfer to a university or continue studies in dance, as well as those who may want to dance professionally or teach dance. But she’s also considered community members. Some took dance lessons in the past and others, including senior citizens, may want to learn dance to have fun and improve their mobility and balance. 

Classes are held in “Studio 34,” a former housing unit on campus. With help from the Barton Community College Foundation and a gift of more than $20,000 from the Dorothy M. Morrison Foundation, the studio features a spring dance floor with a Marley floor covering.

Barton Dance Theatre has attended several events and performed for community outreach. For its Recruitment Tour of Western Kansas/Eastern Colorado, BDT performed at high schools in Hoisington, Russell, Limon, Colo., the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company in Denver and Colorado University Boulder. This spring, 177 people attended the “Beyond Words” Spring Dance Concert, which included 59 students from all dance technique classes; BDT, Barton Ballroom Dance class and three local dance studios.

See Barton Dance Theatre perform “Soft Collisions” on the BCC YouTube channel at The video is by Julie K. Munden, Barton coordinator of video.

50th-anniversary plans

Barton will celebrate its 50th anniversary during the 2019-2020 school year. At Tuesday’s BCC Board of Trustees meeting, Brandon Steinert, director of public relations and marketing, reviewed some of the planned events.

These will include Barton’s 50th Birthday Party, an open house fall festival on Sept. 21, with family-oriented activities, campus tours, food trucks and giveaways. There will also be publications highlighting Barton’s history.

A reception for the first graduating class, along with past and present employees, will be held sometime in December in the Shafer Art Gallery. The college will also recognize 50 years of enduring partnerships with business, industry and community organizations at a reception next March.

Barton’s 50th commencement ceremony will be held May 8, 2020, in the Kirkman Gym. The administration hopes to secure a high profile keynote speaker for the event.

Contracts and new hires

In action items Tuesday, contracts were approved/renewed for head coaches, management staff and administrators. The following new personnel were also approved: Luis Palacios, director of instrumental activities; Yuchen Wang Boswell, CKUB academic coordinator; Jeff Meyer, plumbing instructor at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility; and Morgan Rodriguez, administrative assistant (academics) on the Barton County campus. 

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Barton Dance Theatre is shown performing in an undated file photo.

BCC Board meeting at a glance

Here’s a quick look at Tuesday’s Barton Community College Board of Trustees meeting:

• Instructor Danika Bielek reported on the dance program.

• There was a monitoring report on Barton Services and Regional Locations and a Strategic Planning report.

• Trustees heard a report on 50th Anniversary plans for the college.

• Contracts were approved/renewed for head coaches, management staff and administrators.

• New personnel were approved.

• The board met in executive session with President Dr. Carl Heilman for 20 minutes to discuss the performance of an employee.