Mykl Werth grew up as the art form he now loves was being abandoned in the U.S. He was a boy in the 1950s when dances like the Twist were popular and left people dancing next to each other. The ecstasy of the 1960s enthroned individual expression and led to the typical social dance we see today: a bunch of people shuffling around solo.
Mykl didn’t start dancing himself until he was 38. When he did, he quickly took an interest in partner dancing, which meant ballroom dancing. But he says it was no fun memorizing all those steps and people in the classes looked grumpy to him.
“I found it pretty laborious,” he recalls. “I wasn’t enjoying myself and if I wasn’t going to enjoy myself I wasn’t going to keep doing it.”
So he decided there had to be another way and he came up with a method all his own that he calls “co-creative.” It begins with dancers leaning away slightly from their partner. He says that creates a shared balance point a couple can move around naturally.
“When you’re coming off the same balance point with somebody else, you are dancing actually as one being, with four feet,” he says.
Mykl Werth says once you’ve learned this way of moving together, you can do any kind of dance from waltz to swing to tango. And you can improvise. He says he has taught thousands of people to dance this way, many of them through the iDance program at Northwestern Michigan College.
It might not be for everyone. Pat Reeser Hoekje also teaches dance in the Traverse City area and has danced plenty with Mykl. She says some people want specific instructions when they are starting out.
“They want to feel at ease,” she says. “And so some people need to have the outline or the structure of the movement.”
But Mykl Werth thinks his co-creative method will work for any would-be dancer.
“All they’ve got to do is have the desire to do it.”
His group NMC iDance holds a dance at the Traverse City Opera House on Saturday night. Everyone is welcome and there will be lessons.