As I was sitting in my car outside Kitty Carter’s Dance Factory, I was having second thoughts about attending Michelle Keys’ Power Class. Like over 80,000 others, I follow Keys on Instagram, and am big fan of her dancing and choreography. Watching her mesmerizing Power Class dance videos, rooms packed with dancers doing Keys’ cool, high-energy choreography, is infectious, and I wanted to see what it’s like for someone who is not a dancer—someone like me.
The Dallas dancing queen’s popular class is open to all levels, but I hadn’t been in a dance studio since I was 12-years-old. I somehow gathered the courage to make my way inside among a throng of girls that would soon be my classmates. I had encouraged my friends to sign up and join me, but the popular class had met capacity before they had a chance to register. So I checked in and entered, solo, into the unknown.
I stretched by myself in the corner trying to observe without being noticed, but I was quickly discovered by another first-timer. Just like that, I’d found a friend. All around us, girls were clad in baseball caps and Adidas shoes. They wore cropped hoodies and lululemon shorts — a common look for the class it seems.
Keys enters right on cue. She’s sporting one of those elusive “Dallas Made” jackets and works her way around the room, welcoming first-timers and greeting regulars. The class begins with Keys at the front and center of the studio, leading you through a series of stretches before she begins instructing combinations.
In this particular Power Class, the hip-hop combo to Drake’s “In My Feelings” was close to a minute in length (aka, a lot of choreo), but I had no fear. Keys teaching style really is conducive to all dancing levels and large classes, which comes in handy when the capacity for her regularly-sold-out classes is 80 dancers. To combat the size, Keys first breaks down each choreographed eight counts to one half of the studio while the other half does squats. Then the whole class runs through combinations slowly a few times before trying them with the music. This process continues as Keys continues to add new eight counts. I was surprised at how quickly we were taught the whole one-minute routine. And while the learning may be fast-paced, the breakdown is simple enough even for novice dancers.
Retention of the routine comes with repetition. You find yourself doing the moves over and over again. First, in a group with half the class, then a third of the class, and eventually in groups as small as six people, which is where Keys tells us we have the best opportunity to truly build up and motivate one another. She calls out different age groups and birthday months, and as time goes on you get more and more comfortable performing the newly learned combo.
The small groups section is also where you’re most likely to make a friend if you haven’t already. Mainly because the odds are high that a girl will hand you her iPhone and ask you to record her.
Whether you’ve been dancing since childhood or Power Class is your first time in a dance studio, the same goal comes to mind: to learn a fire combo from the one-and-only Michelle Keys. Of course there are experienced dancers that captivate your attention, but there were also plenty of novices there just like myself. I walked away having burned some serious calories, and the lyrics “Kiki, do you love me?” running through my head on repeat.