Rhythm Nation Dance Class


It’s time. I’ve had multiple requests to teach so we’re finally gonna do it…


Photo: Eugene Adebari/REX USA


Wednesday, November 8th
Kanopy Dance, 341 State Street, 2nd Floor
Ages 18+
$15 at the door; $10 in advance.

Click the button to pay now and save your spot!

Buy Now Button

You know you want to dance like that. Here’s your chance!

New dancers, including those with zero prior dance experience, are always welcome. No special clothes or shoes required. Dress to move your body and bring clean-soled shoes you can change into after you get to the studio so we don’t track gunk onto the dance floor.

You’re going to do a little jazz dance warm up, break down some incredible choreography, and have a LOT of fun. We do a different song every week in my Jazz Dance class, so if you want to learn Rhythm Nation make sure you show up November 8th!

As Janet says: Get the point? Good. Let’s Dance.



Kanopy Dance is located at 341 State Street. Enter through the door located between Ragstock and The Gap. Other doors on the block are labeled 341, but only this door has access to the dance studios.

We will be in dancing in Studio 2. At the top of the stairs, you will be standing in Studio 1. You will see a door directly in front of you. That’s the door into Studio 2. Take off your shoes and come on in!

Please leave your shoes or boots on the shoe racks at the top of the stairs!

What the Heck is Jazz Dance?

What the heck is jazz dance? There are literally stacks of books written about what jazz dance is, how it came into being, and how it is executed. But in a nutshell, if you’re wondering if you should take a jazz dance class because you’re not sure even what it is, here’s what you should know:

Jazz dance started as vernacular dance in the African-American communities of the United States coinciding with the creation of jazz music. Huh? It was popular dance that went with the day’s equivalent of pop music.

Carroll Dickerson’s Jazz Band in Chicago, 1924

The dance form continued to be called jazz dance even as it started to be performed to other types of music. You probably wouldn’t refer to Broadway show tunes as jazz music, but those show stopping numbers are primarily jazz dancing. You would not call Michael Jackson’s music jazz, but his dance moves most certainly were jazz dancing. If you love the old MGM musicals with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, that’s jazz dancing. If you grew up watching the dancers on Solid Gold or MTV in the 80s, that’s jazz dancing too.

In the movie “Flashdance,” the lead character gets attention at a ballet audition by doing a killer jazz routine.

Jazz dance has a vocabulary and technique just as ballet does. It has master innovators and teachers who honed the craft over the last century. The late greats Luigi, Gus Giordano, Frank Hatchett, and Matt Mattox among others were not only great dancers in their own right, but took it upon themselves to become teachers who really created or passed down technique. It is possible to learn a jazz dance routine without technical training. But if you wonder why you don’t look quite right doing it, or you struggle with jumping or turning movements, it’s almost definitely from the lack of technique.

Eugene Louis Faccuito, aka Luigi

A jazz dance warm-up can be long and technical. This is not like a sports-type warm-up. The jazz dance warm-up is where you learn your technique. Sure, we could just jog in place and do your old gym class type warm-up. You’d get warm, but you wouldn’t have done much to master any particular dance skill. Rather, a jazz dance warm-up entails movements that not only warm, tone, and stretch your body, but also teach your muscle memory many positions and movements that are going to come up again and again in choreography.

Gus Giordano teaching a master class

Michael Jackson was one of the best jazz dancers of the last 50 years.

With the successful stage and film revivals of “Chicago,” the jazz choreography of Bob Fosse came back into fashion.

Thriller Dance Time!

‘Tis the season to Dance to


Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Time: 7:45pm – 8:45pm
Where: Kanopy Dance (341 State Street, 2nd Floor), Studio B
Cost: $5.00 per person (cash or check or charge)

Aside from the moonwalk, Thriller is usually the Michael Jackson dance people most ask to learn so we’re busting it out just in time for Halloween. Class is open to all, including those with no prior dance experience.

**Kanopy Studio Info**

Enter Between Ragstock and The Gap Stores – Many doors on the corner are labeled 341 State Street, but only this door has access into the dance studio.

No Street Shoes – What does that mean? It means you need to bring a pair of clean soled shoes to change into at the studio. You can wear dance shoes, sneakers, whatever. You just may not wear the same shoes you wore outside walking to class on the dance floor. It tracks in too much grimey stuff! When you enter, you’ll go up a flight of stairs. At the top are shoe racks where you can leave your shoes during class.

Go into Studio B – At the top of the stairs, you’ll see a door that says “Pull” over the knob. Just pull (don’t rotate the knob as that doesn’t do any good), and come on in. There will be a ballet class in progress when you arrive. DON’T PANIC! Just quietly walk through to sit on the folding chairs on the other side. We’ll start as soon as the ballet kids are done.

There Are Restrooms, Drinking Fountains, and Changing Rooms If You Need Them – You’ll need to go into Studio B to access them.


MJ Dance – Dangerous

Everyone loves dancing to Michael Jackson! Come learn some iconic choreography from his Dangerous performance. All are welcome! 

What: Dangerous dance class
When: Wednesday 9/27/17
Time: 7:45pm-8:45pm
Where: 341 State St (Kanopy Dance studio)
Who: YOU! All ages & levels of dance experience (including no experience) are welcome!
Cost: Only $5.00 per person!

Dress comfortably for movement and perspiration, like you would for yoga, the gym, or other dances classes you take. Please, NO STREET SHOES on the dance floor. What does that mean? You cannot wear shoes in from off the street onto the dance floor. It tracks in too much sand, gum, and other gross stuff. You need to bring a separate pair of shoes (any kind, dance shoes or sneakers) with clean soles to change into, or dance in your socks.

Enter from State Street between Ragstock and The Gap stores. The whole corner is labeled 341 State, but only that door has access to the 2nd floor dance studio.

When you enter, go up the stairs. At the top, take off your shoes and leave them on the shoe rack. You will be standing in Studio 1 where a class may be in progress. DON’T PANIC; you’re in the right place.

At the top of the stairs is a door that says “Pull” over the knob. Pull that knob and enter Studio 2. That’s where we will have class. If there are young girls in there doing ballet, just quietly walk through to the chairs on the other side of the room. Our class will start as soon as their’s ends.

There are restrooms, changing rooms, and drinking fountains in the studio if you need them.

The closest parking options are:
Buckeye Lot (214 W Gorham)
State St Capitol Garage (214 N Carroll)
Overture Center Garage (318 W Mifflin)

Dangerous is a special dance that I categorize with Billie Jean. Both gave us incredible dance numbers that are so special people remember the first time they saw them. But the official music videos for each….not so much. Billie Jean is just Michael in an 80s leather suit with bowtie being stalked by some sort of private eye in a trench coat. Where’s the moonwalk? Where’s the toe stand? The sidewalk lights up as he steps on it, and that’s cool. But that’s about it for cool stuff in that one. And Dangerous? Is there even a video? You can find homemade homages all over Youtube, but not an official MJ produced short film. Which is unfortunate because it means we don’t have a video of the dance with clear audio. We have a bunch of performances filled, naturally, with rapturous screams from fans. I imagine filming on a sound stage was the only place Michael could perform without the shrill shrieks of the masses. In any case, the Dangerous number became part of his dance repertoire no less than Smooth Criminal, Beat It, or the Jackson 5 moves that always made an appearance at his shows.

Dance To Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal Edition


We’ll be dancing to Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal in my Jazz Dance class on Wednesday, September 7th!

Smooth Criminal


What: Dancing to Michael Jackson

Date: Wednesday, September 7th

Time: 7:45pm-8:45pm

Place: Kanopy Dance Studio (341 State St – enter between The Gap & Ragstock)

Cost: $5.00

We will do a warm-up and stretch a bit, and then learn some iconic choreography to “Smooth Criminal”. No registration required. Just show up and dance!

Open to adults and teens who love to dance, love Michael Jackson, love “Smooth Criminal,” love to have fun, or any combination thereof.  No prior dance experience required.

Come dressed to move and no shoes worn off the street allowed on the dance floor (bring clean soled shoes or dance in your socks). There are changing rooms, restrooms and drinking fountains in the studio if you need them.

We will dance in Studio 2. Kanopy Dance has 3 studios and you may need to walk through someone else’s class to get to our class. Don’t worry about it – everyone is used to it. Just try not to be too disruptive. When you get to the top of the stairs, you will be in Studio 1. Remove your shoes and leave them on the shoe rack. Directly in front of you is a door into Studio 2. Pull the door knob (don’t turn it, just pull) and come inside. Make sure to close the door behind you! Walk across to the side of the room with chairs. We’ll start as soon as the class before us wraps up.

Dance Magic Dance! A Very Bowie Dance Class

We’ll be paying tribute to David Bowie in my Broadway Jazz Dance class on Wednesday, January 20th. Come dance a magic dance from Labyrinth with me!

dance magic dance

What: Dancing to David Bowie

Date: Wednesday, January 20th

Time: 6:00pm-7:00pm

Place: Kanopy Dance Studio (341 State St – enter between The Gap & Ragstock)

Cost: $5.00


Open to adults and teens who love to dance, love David Bowie, love the film “Labyrinth,” love to have fun or any combination thereof.  No prior dance experience required. Come dressed to move and no shoes worn off the street allowed on the dance floor (bring clean soled shoes or dance in socks/barefoot).

We will do a warm up and stretch a bit, and then learn some choreography to “Magic Dance” from Labyrinth. No registration required. Just show up and dance!

Unlimited Dance Pass – December Only!



Friends, it is December. You have exactly 1 month to actually do the New Year’s resolutions you’ve been procrastinating on since last January.

AHHHH! Panic!!!!

No, don’t panic. Start dancing now and finish the year on a high note!

Right now, you can purchase a December Unlimited Pass for $50.00. The pass entitles you to all of my Tuesday Ballet (7pm) and Wednesday Broadway Jazz (6pm) classes for the entire month!

Pick the “Unlimited December” from the Paypal drop-down menu:
Payment Options

NOTE: Pass is valid December 1st – January 6th (no classes December 23rd).

Better Version of Me

Brian Cunningham Returns to Madison, Oct. 4th!

Exciting News! Irish sean-nós dancer Brian Cunningham is returning to Madison to give a dance workshop!

Brian Cunningham

Brian Cunningham

Brian dances in a loose Connemara style that is traditional and very exciting at the same time. The workshop is appropriate for all levels, including beginners with no prior experience.

What:   Sean-nós dance workshop with Brian Cunningham
When:  Saturday, October 4th, 2014
Time:   4:15pm – 6:15pm
Where: Express Yourself – 401 N. Lake St., Madison, WI
Who:    Anyone ages 12 and up.
Cost:   $20.00
RSVP: Reserve your spot by emailing Heidi Hakseth at hahakseth@gmail.com.

Brian is an internationally renown Irish sean-nós (or old style) step dancer who has done much to ignite a sean-nós dance revival. Brian began dancing at age 15. In the short time since then, he has become a 3-time winner of the Oireachtas na Samhna, 2-time winner of the Colin Shean Dara jig competition, and has performed in, choreographed and produced numerous shows. He’s even created a film, In the Blood, about the Cunningham family and their passion for preserving and promoting sean-nós dance (available for sale here). Most recently, Brian toured the United States in Atlantic Steps

While in Madison for Atlantic Steps, Brian was kind enough to teach us some sean-nós dancing last March. If you were there, you remember how much fun we had getting the steps and stories from Brian. If you are into Irish dance, tap dance, clogging or anything else where you get to make noise with your feet, sean-nós dance is right up your alley. You do not need prior dance experience to attend Brian’s workshop.


Sean-nós workshop with Brian Cunningham & Kieran Jordan, March 2014


To learn more about Brian, please see his new website http://www.cunninghamdance.com

This workshop is made possible through the generous support of the Celtic Cultural Center of Madison, WI.


Ceili Time!

I’m super excited that there is going to be an Irish Fest in Madison this year. If it goes well, this could become an annual event so fingers are crossed. All are welcome to come down to the UW Memorial Union Terrace on Saturday, August 23rd, to do some ceili dancing at 4:30pm. Capital Ceili Band will be providing the music and they are great.

Haven’t danced before? That’s okay. I’ll be teaching all the dances. Don’t have a partner? That’s okay too! Oh, and this event is Free!

Download (PDF, Unknown)

My Irish Hard Shoe Dancers!

One of the studios where I teach hosted a recital this week. My adult Irish hard shoe students did a bang-up job (pun entirely intended). I don’t think I could be more proud of how far they progressed this semester. Some in the class had tap dance experience, or had done some Irish dance in the past. Others were only in their first or second semester of Irish dance ever, and yet they were able to pull this routine together nicely. They really are good.