The Universal Language of Dance
Student Spotlight on Winnie
That’s a no for me! Sure over the years of teaching Zumba and listening to so much Spanish in the class songs I’ve picked up some vocabulary, but let’s just say my second language brain is mostly taken up with my still-in -progress Chinese.
How can it be possible to dance with expression when you don’t even understand the language of the song? To me, the beat, the rhythm, the energy and emotion can be felt regardless of the lyrics. My experience of the song creates feelings that move me to dance. Similarly, even while my Chinese knowledge struggles to communicate deeply, the kinda of interactions I have with students of all backgrounds bridge differences in language and culture.
With the help of amazing Anna ( my right hand lady, manager and translator extraordinaire) I sat down with one of my longtime Zumba queens, Winnie, for a deeper look into what keeps her coming back to class each time! Winnie has been dancing with us since about 2015 and brings an amazing amount of style, humor, energy and emotion to her dance!
Huge thank you to Winnie for her time speaking with us and sharing her experience!
Anna: What’s your fitness background? Have you taken other dance classes before?
Winnie: I started working out when I was 35, and I exercise approximately 5 to 6 times a week. I followed a strict dance teacher for 10 years. She taught all kinds of dances, including belly dance and ballroom. 4 years ago I also learned ballet for a while until I could do splits!
Anna: Where did you learn about Katie's class?
Winnie: When my teacher stopped teaching, I was in search of a great dance teacher. I then saw a video of 小S and Katie dancing together. Oh, it was breathtaking! The expression on Katie's face when she was dancing was different from all the dance experiences I've had. As soon as I saw Katie's video, I knew this was exactly what I wanted. I've been her student since 2015.
Anna: What's your favorite dance style?
Katie: I think when Winnie dances she’s so graceful ! It looks like she really enjoys dancing.
Winnie: Really?! 🤭 I like it when Katie sometimes teaches songs with strong and powerful moves. This is what I want to practice to feel, different from what I used to learn. I feel different countries and environments create different styles of dance. I’m really looking forward to being able to master a fierce dance style!
Anna: As you mentioned, there are many differences when it comes to taking Katie's class, was there anything you needed to get used to?
Winnie: I love how you don't need to remember moves when taking Katie's class. In the beginning I was not used to this. In my old dance classes, teachers often talk a lot to teach all the moves. (Katie doesn't talk in class) I was wondering, "Is this gonna to work?" After a couple classes, I started to get used to this format, and how Katie cues for the next move. It then became second nature.
Anna: What is your goal for taking class or exercising?
Winnie: Every class I will tell myself to keep up with Katie, that's my goal.
Anna: When you dance, it feels like you really enjoy the music and dance. How do you dance with emotion?
Winnie: Really? Really? Do I? I didn't know that I do that! 🤩
Winnie: I guess I feel like if Katie is doing it, I need to do it too! Actually I am a little bit thick-skinned, and so I like that Katie always says "Enjoy!" Also I don't need to remember the moves so it feels really relaxing to dance. When I can follow along, I will add a little bit, sometimes a lot 😂 of expression. As long as you are willing to open your heart to try, there is no problem!
Anna: Most people think it may be hard to dance with emotion, do you have any experience you'd like to share with us?
Winnie: For me, if I can follow along with Katie's moves, I feel confident. When I feel confident, my face expression will change. So I recommend people become familiar with routines by taking more classes. The more you're familiar with the routine, you will start to think to yourself, "Hey, I'm getting better at this!" The more confidence you accumulate, the more you can enjoy the music.
Katie: When I started teaching dance fitness, teaching a class was like a performance to me which meant I needed to be entertaining 😅. Or sometimes when I feel tired, I know it's important to still show my energy to the students. After a while of gaining experience in the classroom, I started to remember that feeling of confidence when I was teaching. I wanted to show that people can learn how to feel their bodies and emotions through dance, and also learn how to express how they feel. Both Taiwanese and American women often need to maintain a perfect image, so we might be used to hiding our true feelings and in the long-term we might forget even how to know what our true feelings are.
Anna: During this process, how did Katie guide you?
Winnie: Every class she reminds us to enjoy. Therefore I throw myself into her movement without any pressure.
Anna: You've come to in-person class 2-3 times a week in the past 7 years. What's your motivation?
Winnie: I love how taking Katie's classes makes me feel, and I would like to work on powerful moves. So I come to class whenever I can. One time I hung out with my friends till 3:00 in the morning, and the next day I still went to Saturday class at 11:00 a.m. — even if I may have not danced too well 😝. I really go to class as much as I can!
Anna: Have you noticed any differences in your body?
Winnie: I feel my body is firmer, especially the abdominal area. During covid, I did feel the difference of my belly because we couldn’t take in-person classes. Now I'm glad it's back. Its amazing to see how often Katie teaches her class and still has time to do strength training!
Katie: I wasn't interested in strength training much before, but now I really like it ! I like being stronger most at times when I can carry heavy things for myself or help others like the elderly or shorter people pick up things or reach things they need ☺️ which makes me feel useful and proud! Especially when I was injured during the summer, the doctor recommended to do some strength training to help support my joints and maintain good posture.
Winnie: I also feel Katie has maintained her body very well. Even coming back from the States she still looked thin!
Katie: I've been eating a lot of vegetables. This is my goal. I still eat chocolate and pizza, but everyday I tell myself I want to eat many vitamins as possible so I'll figure out how many kinds of vegetables I can am incorporate into my meals. After eating vegetables, I still eat hamburgers and those things I love. I won't tell myself you can't eat this or that. I've changed after the injury. I want to help my body. I don't want to hurt my body. Love myself one good habit at a time.
Winnie: Oh, I see!
Winnie: Katie has been exercising so much every day, do you still exercise when you are not working?
Katie: During Covid, gyms were closed, my yoga classes was closed, and some of my class were stopped too. So, my friends came to my house and I started teaching them Zumba for fun. Afterwards we started doing different kinds of workouts and we really started to get used to exercising together. We were pretty proud of ourselves— complimenting and encouraging each other to look and feel great!
Katie: It's so nice to work out with friends! Other people often ask, “How can you guys go to your house to workout before you go to the bar at night?! " Our idea of a good night is to meet to exercise before we eat dinner, have drinks and head out on the town. I feel if we exercise first, our night always feels like a “win.” We’ve got more energy and are in great moods before we even go out. Even if some part of the night out isn’t the best like an empty or too-crowded venue , or terrible music— I won’t end up minding because I had fun, danced and connected before I even walked out the door!
Winnie: I see. So Katie also uses exercise to make yourself happy. Having friends who can exercise together is really important! Oh, I realize I do dance with my friends, we are usually doing it in the KTV, dancing and singing together. So much fun! 😁
Katie: That's wonderful 💗
Anna: I feel you are a pretty relaxed person, are you easily stressed?
Winnie: Ya, I am pretty relaxed. My stress sometimes comes from my kids, but they are pretty good. I do realize sometimes when I feel more stressed , after class I'll feel more relaxed.
Anna: What kind of music do you like?
Winnie: I like many different kinds of music. Other than pop music I sing at KTV, I really enjoy Katie's music choice. Recently she's been playing some retro pop songs such as Michael Jackson, I like them too. The hip hop music my son performs I also enjoy. At night before bed, I like to listen to piano and classical music.
Anna: What's your most memorable moment with us?
Winnie: A few years ago, Katie had her logo t-shirts for sale. So we all gathered together for lunch and to cut t-shirts. I really enjoyed it because everyone was very happy and you could cut any style you wanted. Even if you made a mistake, it was okay. You could ask for help!
Winnie: Every Halloween and Christmas Katie will dress up for the holiday which is very memorable for me. This Halloween we had a lot of fun too!