Until very recently, I had NO IDEA there were adult classes at Ballet Austin. Did you?! Other than getting down in front of the bathroom mirror or getting silly with my kids in the living room (I’m pretty dang good at the “Floss” LOL), I had assumed my dancing days were over, and then I met Erikka Youngstrom. Dancing with Erikka in her Power Dance class at Ballet Austin Butler Center for Dance & Fitness has been an absolute blast, bringing to life a part of me that has been laying dormant for a very, very, very long time. I’m thrilled to introduce you to Erikka and to invite you to return to dance as I have OR give it a try for the first time! Mommas, meet Erikka…
Erikka, where are you originally from?
I am from a small town, Yakima, WA., but as I travelled in my 20s, most people thought I was from TX, and I had acquired a lot of Texan friends. When I finally decided to move to Austin in 2001, I immediately felt it home. The heat doesn’t bother me at all… so I guess I’ve been a southern girl at heart all of my life!
You definitely strike me as a Texas girl! Tell us about your kids…
I have a 14 year old daughter, Jette, and a 12 year old son, Bradley. Both gingers, although my husband, Eric, and I know of only one potential relative with red hair. It’s silly, but It’s so special to me that I got these two redheads, in spite of the odds. They are really great kids.
What do you love most about Austin?
In other cities, when asked the question, “what do you do?” it implies your occupation. Here in Austin, people reply to that question by listing what they do for fun… kayaking, biking, salsa dancing, etc. That’s Austin- a community of friendly, hard-working people, who know how to enjoy life. For me, that common love for life and people is what makes Austin so special.
What do you love to do with your family around town?
My husband travels for work, and we don’t have any family in TX, so I feel like I was in “survival mode” for a long time when my kids were young. We had a lot of unsuccessful outings when my kids were pre-school aged, lol. When we finally switched gears and began enjoying the city again, we have found we love being on the water the most. Our favorite new activity this year has been hiking down to the new rope swings under the pedestrian bridge at the Greenbelt. That is good, old fashioned fun! I really enjoy playing tennis with my kids who have both recently taken up the sport – it has been easier than expected! The Waterloo Adventure Park at Lake Travis is a blast and will wear your kiddos out. But, we don’t go from activity to activity. One per day is plenty for us and we like to just sit on the porch or watch movies. I feel like life is busy enough!
Tell us about your journey of returning to dance, becoming an instructor and then developing Power Dance.
I took Jazz when I was young, and was a high school cheerleader. I started dancing again about 10 years ago. It started with Ballet, but then dance fitness classes and I was hooked. About five years into it, I learned that Louis Van Amstel of Dancing with the Stars was beginning his own dance fitness line and that he was training his own instructors. I wasn’t interested in teaching but was very interested in dancing with him for a weekend so I signed up to train to be an instructor, just for personal growth. Louis and I hit it off and he convinced me to start teaching his program, LaBlast, which incorporates all of the Ballroom dance rhythms. I was also certified Body Drop, a hip hop dance fitness program. Nothing fit me quite right, and I was struggling, even though my classes were gaining a following. It took me a while to shed expectations and just follow my gut, but I decided to go my own route and create Power Dance- a mixture of all of my favorite dance styles plus fitness movement. My favorite part of teaching Power Dance is watching women discover their inner dancer and then grow as a person through dance. I see women come out of their shells and become more confident. They realize that they can do more than they thought and actually enjoy the journey, every class, and are bummed when class is over. It is such a joy to be able to lead women through an hour when they can emote, enjoy music with their friends, have fun, forget about the world, and also burn calories at the same time. It’s the ULTIMATE multitask.
Are you involved in anything else within the community?
I’m involved with The Refuge for DMST, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, National Charity League, and I volunteer in the 2 year old room at my church with my kids. That’s another favorite family activity!
These are all so wonderful! Serving together really deepens family bonds.
How has the community been a support to you in getting to where you are now?
I got my start teaching dance fitness four years ago at the JCC, which has a neighborhood gym on campus. It is a fantastic organization and they’ve supported my format as it evolved, as did the women attending. A special kind of community forms in dance classes, because everyone there is allowing themselves to be a little vulnerable. The support and acceptance of dancers at all levels is my biggest goal as an instructor – dance is for everyone! There is no judgement, just the music and movement.
I was honored to get hired to teach Power Dance at Ballet Austin this January. I love reaching a new part of the community and teaching classes in the same facility where Ballet Austin rehearses is just magic. I grew up loving the ballet, and it is so inspiring to have dancers of all ages training around me. I also teach at birthday parties and private events… I love it all!
Thanks for sharing your love for dance, Austin and the community with us! Just one last fun question: Is there any Erikka trivia we’d find surprising?
I used to be a tambourine girl in a Country band called Echo Canyon. None of the band members liked country music, but we lived in a rodeo town, and if you wanted to play music, the people wanted country. I played Friday and Saturday nights for 3 months and haven’t picked up a tambourine since. It was one of the best jobs/times of my life.
Mommas, if you are interested in dancing with Erikka she teaches Power Dance at Ballet Austin Tuesdays at 9:30am and Saturday at 10 through the summer. She will be teaching Sundays at 2pm in the fall. P.S. If you want a little sneak peak from her class there’s a short clip from June 1st in a post @southaustinmoms on IG.