Picking student organizations to join is like going shopping: so many categories, so many options to choose from. But any college kid knows that, in reality, you will end up only committing to one or two, just like ignoring all of your fancy clothes resorting to a sweatshirt and shorts every morning. Thankfully, USC’s Dance Included offers a one-stop-for-all activity for dance lovers, kid lovers, community service lovers and others who just like to have a good time.

Dance Included is a student organization that provides free dance classes to students in local schools and recreation centers. Classes range from ballet, jazz and hip-hop to tap, salsa and even ballroom. They are a great way for kids to express themselves in a safe after-school environment, especially because their schools are financially unable to fund such activities themselves. Thanks to Dance Included volunteers, the kids get an opportunity to learn basic dance techniques and have fun with their friends at the same time.

The teachers are all USC students from different majors, not necessarily related to dance.

“Most of them are people who danced in high school who want to continue but they don’t have time to commit to a dance program or an organization,” explains Amanda Sayers, president of Dance Included.

Then what does it take to be a great Dance Included teacher?

“Patience and discipline,” says Sayers. “And someone who’s good at spotting things, giving constructive advice to help them improve.”

In a typical class, the teacher preps the kids first with basic warm-up routines, followed by across-the-floor techniques like steps and jumps. Then comes the choreography part during which the teacher teaches her own dance routine incorporating different techniques they learned from across the floor. The class ends with dance games – Simon Says, freeze games – as a treat for the kids for behaving well.

At the end of every semester, Dance Included holds their own showcase to present to parents what the kids have learned in class. This is not only a great opportunity for the parents to see their children’s improvements but also a nice treat for the teachers who have worked hard all semester.

“You’re almost like their parent, you’re just so proud of them when they get up there and perform,” says Sayers with a smile.

This semester, the showcase is expected to be on May 7 at the Expo Center. The students will be displaying the routines they learned during class, including a jazz piece to a Justin Bieber song.

Volunteering at Dance Included is truly a wonderful chance to build connections with kids in the area.

“It’s really nice to see kids come back every semester. Kids I taught freshman year I see now, and it’s really exciting to see them grow and learn.”

As a fourth-year Dance Included teacher, Sayers is now an expert when it comes to dealing with students. She is one of the many volunteers who have gained the status of a role model from their students in addition to being a dance teacher. If you believe that you have what it takes to be a volunteer, join their team next fall semester. It will surely be an unforgettable experience for both you and the kids.

Currently, Dance Included classes are offered in the following locations: Vermont Elementary, Weemes Elementary, Expo, Foshay Learning Center, and 32nd Street Elementary school. The classes usually run for an hour once a week.