Dancers prep for steppin’ contest

Houston dancer John Sigears will be heading to Baton Rouge for Steppin’ in the Bayou, and he’s bringing more dancers with him.

Sigears, who also teaches dance classes in Houston, will be accompanied by 10 of his students, and they’ll all compete in the sixth annual dance contest hosted by the nonprofit Steppin’ in the Bayou LLC.

Sigears won the contest in 2011 and 2012.

“This was the first competition that I’ve ever been in on this type of scale,” Sigears said by phone Monday. “It helped me get my start in teaching, and a lot of people know me from doing this competition.

“I’m kind of loyal to it, and I want my students to be involved in it, so they kind of have the same experience I had when I first won. It’s a great event.”

Dancers from across the country will vie for cash and prizes in swingout, two-step and stepping categories.

Sigears, who’s been dancing almost four years, teaches swing out. “Swing out is partner-style dancing. I teach a particular swing out, it’s actually called DFW swing out, it originated in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and it kind of evolved and moved around different places,” Sigears explained.

“It consists of man and woman partner-style dancing, we do it to a structured count, an 8-count, and I teach different following and leading techniques. It’s similar to stepping, but the count is different, the foot patterns are different; it’s just a different style of dance.”

Sigears will also teach one of three workshops coinciding with the contest 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at BREC’s Independence Park.

“I title it ‘Swing Therapy’ and what it pretty much is is teaching different dance techniques as opposed to a particular style, proper dance floor etiquette, how to dance with your partner, do’s and don’ts of dance.

“Also, if there’s time, I’ll do a basic run through of my particular style of swing,” Sigears said.

Stepping instructor Geno Spears, of Dallas, will teach beginning and advance stepping.

Cost for each workshop is $10.

JoJo Newsom, event organizer and founder of SITB, said event proceeds in past years have gone to local nonprofits including the Red Cross. Since the 25-member SITB is now a foundation with nonprofit status, this year it will give a scholarship award to a deserving SITB member that exemplifies outstanding service, advancement in the dance and overall excellence.

“We’ll send them (the scholarship recipient) to a training workshop so they can further the dance and bring it back to the people in Baton Rouge and share their experiences,” Newsom said.