Bemidji dance instructors create 'Island of Dance' instructional program
The coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses to make changes, and that certainly was the case as the Suzy and Hondo School of Dance shut down for 13 months. The couple concentrated on building what they call their “Island of Dance,” a multimedia library of instruction to be shared with the world.
BEMIDJI -- There was very little tango, two-step or twist going on at the Suzy and Hondo School of Dance last year.
The coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses to make changes, and that certainly was the case for Suzy and Jon (Hondo) Langhout, whose 23-year-old dance instruction venture was shut down for 13 months.
But that doesn’t mean things were idle at the Langhouts’ studio on Tyler Avenue in Bemidji. It was quite the opposite, really, as the couple concentrated on building what they call their “Island of Dance,” a multimedia library of instruction to be shared with the world.
“We were building this in our minds,” Hondo said. “If you were stranded on a deserted island for 10 years, how would you learn all the social dances? How would you review them? How would you keep adding to the ones you wanted to add to?”
With the help of a videographer from NLFX Professional in Bemidji, they first developed a program called “90 Days to Dance.” It includes videos of several types of dances that can be viewed online through the studio’s website, suzyandhondo.com .
“You can’t take 100 people to an island for 10 years,” Hondo said. “But we fit it so that if you’re at home alone you can learn it. Or if you’re a pair at home you can learn it. (Because of) COVID people were dancing apart anyway. One gal is doing it for a workout, and another gal in Seattle is using it to review what she learned from us.”
The pandemic taught them to be flexible in their offerings even as the studio opens back up.
“We have been following the updates from the CDC and reports seem to be a moving target," Hondo said. "Lessons are picking up, but we are going to double down on our online program in the coming weeks. It is our feeling that at-home and distance learning needs as many options as possible.”
Suzy has been dancing since she could walk. Her mother, the late Marion Christianson, was a professor at Bemidji State University where she taught physical education, dancing, tumbling and ice-skating classes.
“She would bring me in as the demo dude when I was a kid,” Suzy said. “Her classes had to be able to teach me. If they could teach me, then they passed. So I grew up doing all the different dances.”
Suzy takes pride in passing on the lessons she learned from her mother.
“Each of the different types of dance has a different type of community,” she said. “That was always our thing, to make this dance community where it’s like a family. You have all your little separate families that come together for the big family reunion.”
Now that family can come together from anywhere in the world through the magic of the “Island of Dance.”
“We’re here to empower small town dancers,” Hondo said. “If you’re the kind of person that loves to move to the music, and you’re just not sure how we’re the answer. If you like to move, we’re here for you. Our mission is to empower small-town dance teachers. And to dent the universe.”