Hair tied tightly in a bun on the heads of slim, swaying dancers in pink tights and black leotards. Classical music softly playing on the stereo. A poised instructor watching over her students through their reflection in the room of mirrors. An ever-slight smile crosses the pink lips of the girls in the dance line.
Welcome to the Continental Dance Company.
The art and recreation of dance touches the lives of those in Craig. With every outdoor activity under the sun available, exercise and fitness opportunities are not something locals have to search for in Northwest Colorado. But, the Continental Dance Co., is a place where amateurs and experts alike can don ballet shoes, tap shoes, tennis shoes, and dance shoes of all kinds to find rhythm and fitness in a form of recreation that is as old as the hills.
The dance company opened its doors in 1997 and owner Kate Kipe has been teaching her way into the hearts of youngsters and adults ever since.
"You need to use it or lose it that's my motto," Kipe said. "This is my second childhood. This dance school offers classes to all types of students and there's no such thing as perfect. Anyone can be a dancer."
Kipe pointed to a picture tacked up at the entrance of the dance school of a Sumo Wrestler in ballet shoes.
"Do you see that?" she asked. "That's a great picture and it illustrates just what I mean by anyone young or old with any body type can get into dance.
"It doesn't matter what you look like, it's how you move. We take students as young as three and into their senior years. You're never too old or young to start dancing."
The Continental Dance Co. offers classes in ballet, jazz, tap, ballroom, belly dancing and taebox.
"I love to explore other dance avenues at the request of my students," Kipe said. "Belly dancing came about when a student's mother said she would like to learn. We try to listen to what the students want and then offer that form of dance."
The health benefits of dancing go beyond physical appearance, Kipe said.
"This is something that gives people self-confidence and an awareness of what muscles move what parts of the body," she said. "We see improved poise, grace, fitness, breathing the list goes on."
Liz Larkin, 13, has been studying ballet for 10 years. She attends Craig Middle School and is the daughter of Victoria and Michael Larkin.
"I love the discipline," she said. "And, I get to eat whatever I want. It also helps with my figure and I feel graceful and strong."
Pam Thompson instructs the tae-box class three days each week. This form of dance is a new rage in fitness that incorporates kicks, punches, balance and intense cardio training with rhythmic music. In addition to the tae-box portion of the class, Thompson teaches yoga and a form of pilates which increase flexibility and strength.
"Tae-box is an overall body fitness, cardio and muscle training class," Thompson said. "I really believe that this class can also replace weight training because you use your own body weight for strength training."
Tae-box is an excellent class for people who are working to control their weight, improve cardio fitness and decrease body fat, Thompson said.
"This class works your abs, quads, glutes and back," she said. "It's also a great stress reliever because of all the kicking and punching. I think people keep coming back to the class because it's so fun, different and they see results."
Margie MacDonald has been attending the taebox classes.
"I sweat blood, sweat and tears," she said. "When I get home, I feel high on life. I decided to take this class because I want to feel better and look better and the instructor is very good."
Kipe said that people often forget the many benefits of moving their body to music.
"Music and dance use both sides of your brain at the same time," she said.
"That's why it's so good for you. People talk about cutting back on the arts; I hope that never happens, the benefits are much too important."
The Continental Dance Co. will host its annual dance recital at 6 p.m. on May 19, at the Moffat County High School auditorium. The theme for this year's performance is the Wizard of Oz. Most of Kipe's dance students will participate in the program and Kipe said the public is invited to attend the event.
For more information on classes at the Continental Dance Co., or the recital, call Kate Kipe at 824-7116.