En Garde on the dance floor

Senior Alexa Summers recently began participating in classes for fencing and swing dancing.  

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En Garde on the dance floor

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Fencing began in 18th century Italy, and swing dancing began in Harlem in the 1920’s. Despite these contrasting backgrounds, senior Alexa Summers takes classes for both of these activities right here in Kansas.  

Summers said she began swing dancing when she saw her sister going to classes. She said she had never gone to swing dancing classes before, but when the opportunity [to go swing dancing] was presented to her, she thought it would be a cool activity to try out.

“It sounded fun and when [my sister] picked it up again this summer, I wanted to go with her,” Summers said.

Summers’ older sister Lydia said she began swing dancing in 2011 when she was attending Johnson County Community College. Prior to beginning swing dancing at JCCC, Lydia gained an interest in dance from her time spent dancing jazz in high school; she said she took a year off from swing dancing before getting back into it this past summer.

Summers said that she and her sister have differences in personality, but she was glad that the opportunity to take the class was made available to her because of her sister. Lydia said that despite their age and personality differences, she and Summers have a tight bond that has strengthened because of their time spent swing dancing.

“[Lydia] is more independent I guess, but we are very different and it just sounded like a fun activity,” Summers said.

The swing dancing class is at the Allegro Ballroom on 105th Street and Metcalf Avenue. Summers said that her time with both swing dancing and fencing is great escape from her school work and the classes fit well with her homework schedule.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Miller

Summers also participates in a fencing class on Tuesday nights at JCCC. She has been fencing for about a year, and the class is held for three hours once a week.

Summers’ fencing instructor Travis Campbell said Summers is a very enthusiastic student, and she always brings a great attitude to the class each week.

“[Summers] is always in the classroom with a smile, she is always wanting to participate, she likes to joke, and sometimes challenge me [to a fencing match], to her detriment,” Campbell said.  

Summers said the class is upbeat and most of the people in the class are new to the sport, so they are just learning. She said that she is good friends with most of the people in the class.

“There have only been a few people that I have actually disliked and wanted to beat them [at fencing],” Summers said.

According to Summers, her favorite part about swing dancing and fencing is meeting new people. One of the lessons she said she has learned is to form opinions on people only after seeing how good they are at the activity.

“Never underestimate people’s abilities,” Summers said. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Summers said she plans to continue fencing and swing dancing as long as she has to option to continue taking classes.