Ballet, Twerking and Everything In-between


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pulse final

Today we’re going to dance class. Three months ago in midtown Anchorage, Studio Pulse opened its doors as the cities newest modern dance studio. Stephanie Wonchala is the founder of the Pulse Dance Company, and runs the studio.

“Think of it as four walls where there is no judgment. We’re all just here to move, and dance,” Wonchala says.

The classes offered at Studio Pulse are wide ranging to say the least, from “Jazzy Leaps and Turns”, to “Ballet for Bad Bitches,” to “Twerk and Sculpt.” And just in case you’re unclear on what twerking is…

“The Oxford dictionary describes it as ‘to move the rear in a sexually provocative manner,’” Wonchala says with a laugh. “So we do a lot of jiggling and shaking and it’s really fun.”

But Wonchala says you can expect a real work out as part of the fun.

“It’s not the Miley Cyrus trashy twerking that everyone is familiar with. It really is a thigh, glute, and ab sculpting work out. So you’re literally drenched in sweat and sore the next day,” Wonchala says.

Stephanie Wonchala is the founder of Pulse Dance Studio.
Stephanie Wonchala is the founder of Studio Pulse dance studio.

On this day, there’s a more traditional class taking place. Dance instructor Alyssa Taylor is teaching an intermediate ballet class for adults.

“I think more people want to put their little babies in ballet, but there are the handful of adults that want the ballet body and like the exercise aspect, or maybe even the gracefulness that comes from ballet,” says Taylor.

This is Taylor’s second year teaching, and she says she loves the grace and tradition of ballet. But even this seemingly standard dance class has the occasional curve ball. Taylor says you’ll be doing more than just pirouettes to classical music in her class.

“Anything that has a nice, strong even beat is pretty easy to put movement to. So, we can get pretty creative,” Taylor says.

Taylor finds ballet to be one of the richest dance styles, but her favorite part of teaching it is discovering what her students get from it.

“Even if you want to just have fun and move and don’t care about the workout part, there’s a little bit of that as well. So hopefully whatever you come to ballet for you leave with,” Taylor says.

But for those who are, or want to become serious dancers, Wonchala says the sky is the limit. Including becoming part of the Pulse Dance Company’s performance team.

“It’s not just ‘I did pilates and now I’m done,’ it’s ‘I did intermediate ballet, and then I went to pointe class, and now I’m feeling strong enough to do Ballet for Bad Bitches, and I auditioned for Pulse and now I’m performing with them!’ There’s definitely a ladder to climb,” Wonchala says.

The Pulse Dance Company is currently preparing for their season finale performance, which will take place February 2014 at APU. But in the mean time, Wonchala invites anyone to stop by and check out the new studio, even if they’re not sure if they’re the dancing type.

“The beautiful thing about dance is that we were born doing it, and everyone can do it. So it’s really nice to have a studio where I can encourage people to come in and break those uncomfortable boundaries and find the mover in themselves,” Wonchala says.




Dave Waldron began his radio career in 2000 as a volunteer DJ at UAA’s radio station KRUA 88.1, where he hosted a weekend music show. In 2004 he was hired as the station’s music director, and held the position until his graduation in 2007. He was hired by Alaska Public Media in 2008 and since then has worked as an audio engineer, editor, and producer. He currently runs his own small business AK Audio Pro, and is a host of Alaska Public Media’s Hometown, Alaska.

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