Two nights a week the parish hall at St. James Episcopal Church comes to life with the sights and sounds of the students of Dancin’ Feet running into the building sporting tights, leotards, sweats and even a few tutus, pink bal-let slippers in hand.
Instructor Christina Behl and her two teenage assistants teach girls and boys from toddler to teens ballet, lyrical, jazz and hip hop. The littler students even do some tumbling, which is incorporated into their dance performances.
Soft lighting reflects on the old hardwood floors. It is just a dance studio until one notices the cathedral windows and framed photographs of past ministers and deacons of the church.
Behl has added her own touch, placing ballet barres at two levels – one for the littler girls, one for the taller – and draping the walls in white tulle. There are also pictures and posters of dancers to inspire her students.
Each class begins by slowly stretching their arms and legs, the dancers, led by their two teenage leaders, giggle and ask a multitude of questions throughout the entire process.
A married mom of three, Behl has been dancing for nearly 30 years – since she was two. She began her lessons right here in Lewistown under the direction of Wendy Pfau, then moved on to the University of Montana.
“I’m teaching because I enjoyed it growing up and wanted to share that with other people,” said Behl who has been an instructor for the past 10 years.
Behl said her style of teaching is fairly laid back as she would like every child to be able to come and learn dance terminology and the steps. She also does not require her dancers to perform solos but encourages each student to at least try.
The group holds two performances per year and also participates in one parade each summer. Behl said her favorite part of teaching these young dancers is watching their abilities grow and change year after year.
“I knew that I loved it and that’s what I wanted to do,” said Behl.