Basin Arts is calling movers and dancers of all levels and ages to join in a pay-what-you-can series of outdoor classes in Parc International.

Basin Arts founder Clare Cook said the “Arts in the Parc” series evolved from an experimental set of classes in the fall when the arts nonprofit was unable to hold in-person movement classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the more traditional and professional-level classes have moved back indoors, Cook said they saw an opportunity to get more people moving.

Movement is crucial to humans’ overall well-being and offers an opportunity for the body to process life and recent experiences, she said.

“I think people are still processing the last year of their life. We believe the body and movement is a major centerpiece to how you process life. You don’t have to be a professional dancer to have access to that level of movement and thoughtfulness,” Cook said.

“We can be more grounded, we can be calmer, we can be kinder, we can be more focused — if we can be in our bodies,” she said.

The classes are from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sundays through late May. The Tuesday and Sunday classes are yoga courses and the Thursday sessions feature a variety of dance lessons, from hula dance fundamentals to dances of the Gulf South.

Cook said they curated the list of guest teachers and dance styles to reflect the cultural diversity of the region and give attendees a taste of new movement styles. The dance forms can also appeal to dancers of all skill levels — you don’t need to be technically trained or gifted to enjoy the styles, she said.

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Basin Arts’ hope is that being outside helps free attendees of insecurities around movement and expectations that limit their experience.

“Having that outdoor platform is so important to bring people back into their body, especially people who might not be comfortable coming into a dance studio. They might say, ‘I don’t know if I want to watch myself in a mirror during an Afro-Haitian class.’ But if you’re out in a big park, and you’re outside, you don’t have a mirror, you’ve got the open air above you — the inclination to free yourself up is just that much greater,” Cook said.

The goal of the pay-as-you-can model is to further the classes’ accessibility by removing financial barriers. Cook said the series’ two sponsors, Klout 9 and District South Real Estate, provided financial support to allow for upfront marketing for the classes and assured compensation for the teachers no matter how much money the classes drum up.

Jamie Hebert, director of programming and development for Downtown Lafayette Unlimited, said the classes offer a new way for people to experience downtown Lafayette’s parks outside of typical concert and festival outings. “The “Arts in the Parc” series is a collaboration between Downtown Lafayette Unlimited and Basin Arts, and for Downtown Lafayette the classes are a great showcase of the breadth of opportunities the area has to offer, she said.

“It’s really our goal to connect our community to downtown. Downtown really is the center of Acadiana -- It’s the heart of the city and the center of life here,” Hebert said.

Cook suggested attendees pre-register for the classes online to help with planning. The park gates open 15 minutes before the beginning of class and attendees should enter through the gate on Taylor Street near the back of the Children’s Museum of Acadiana, she said.


Email Katie Gagliano at kgagliano@theadvocate.com