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New BCC dance instructor plans to take program to new heights
Instructor plans to accommodate all skill levels
new slt BCC dance
Dance Instructor Danika Bielek demonstrates some movements in Studio 34 at Barton Com-munity College. - photo by Photo courtesy of Barton Community College

BCC Board of Trustees meeting at a glance

The Barton Community College Board of Trustees Jan. 23 meeting included the following action:
• Election of board officers - Mike Johnson continues as chairman.
• EduKan Audit - Esther Lahargoue, EduKan chief executive officer, shared information about the latest audit report, which was approved.
• FY18 Leadership Institute - Vice President of Instruction Elaine Simmons introduced eight BCC employees chosen for the college’s second Leadership Institute.
• Strategic Planning Report - Charles Perkins, dean of Institutional Effectiveness, provided an update.
• Monitoring Report - Vice President Simmons and Kurt Teal, dean of Fort Riley Technical Education and Military Outreach, presented a report on Regional Workforce Needs.
• Consent agenda - Four new employee hires were approved

Editor’s note: Danika Bielek’s contract as an instructor of dance at Barton Community College was approved at Tuesday’s BCC Board of Trustees meeting. This feature was written by Barton’s Director of Public Information Brandon Steinert. Additional meeting notes are by Tribune staff.

Danika Bielek is ready to infuse Barton’s dance program with her energy, enthusiasm and years of experience teaching and performing.
“We’ll create a high quality program, but one that is accessible and welcoming to everyone,” she said.
The dance offerings at Barton will eventually be designed to serve three types of learners. The first would be those seeking a degree in dance, who may want to transfer to a university to continue studies in dance, or begin to dance professionally. She would also focus on dance education for those seeking to teach dance, whether at an educational institution or in a studio of their own.
These students will have diverse experiences that cross into the worlds of music and theatre as well.
Also available to this first audience is Barton Dance Theatre (BDT), the college’s resident student dance company, which Bielek hopes to build into an avenue for her students to take their education to the next level with live performances and a deeper study of the art form.
Bielek said she also expects to have a contingency of community members interested in taking classes for their health or just to learn a new skill.
“They are welcome to come in and take classes in a friendly, warm environment to gain a love and understanding for the different styles of dance,” she said.
Lastly, dance can be used as a form of therapy for seniors concerned about balance or strength. Bielek said she has considered offering courses specifically for Silver Cougar Club members.
She is also in the certification program for Dance for PD at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Booklyn, NY, which awards credentials to teach individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease and movement disorders. Bielek already has six years of experience working with this aspect of dance therapy.
She said she hopes all her students, regardless of their reason for attending, leave with better body awareness, self discipline and a stronger love of the arts. Barton’s Dance Line is a separate group and will continue under the direction of Cheer and Dance Coach Amanda Schnoebelen.
Patrons of Bielek’s “Studio 34,” which was built into the remodeled housing units three and four, will quickly pick up on the passion she has for her area of expertise. Though, she didn’t start out that way.
“I was a tomboy; I was a little girl who didn’t want to be a ballerina,” she said. “I wanted to fly. I would jump off the furniture flapping my arms. I learned a lot about gravity.”
She was first exposed to modern dance as an 18-year-old art major at Phoenix Community College. She was tired of aerobics and sought another form of exercise. After one dance class, she was hooked.
“It took me two more years to figure out that I wanted to change my major,” she said. “When I realized I was enrolled in six dance classes and one art class, I switched and transferred to Arizona State University, and worked very hard to catch up to everyone else.”
She eventually graduated from ASU with a bachelor’s degree of fine art in dance with emphasis on performance and choreography. She learned a variety of styles from well-known and established dance instructors. She also trained at Phoenix School of Ballet and Ballet Arizona.
After graduating, she joined the Desert Dance Theater of Phoenix, Ariz. and later danced nationally with choreographers such as Bill Evans, and spent several years as a professional dancer with modern dance and ballet companies.
She has served as Chair of the Dance Department at Pikes Peak Community College and Executive Director and Dance Director of the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts.
Bielek still attends dance workshops across the country as both student and teacher, finding new ways to move.
She is actively recruiting for the fall semester and ample scholarship funds are available for those interested in enrolling in the dance program.
Those interested in dance classes can reach her at 620-792-9253 or

The board approved three additional new employees at Tuesday’s meeting: Suzanne Morris, customer service representative at the Ft. Leavenworth Campus; Chelsea Walecki, assistant softball coach; and Melanie Moeder, part-time instructional specialist. Moeder will teach Adult Basic Education and General Educational Development courses in Russell.