Learning the language of dance

Tim Blumentritt

UW-L Alum Tim Blumentritt teaches clogging at the Concordia Ballroom in La Crosse

In college Tim Blumentritt learned you don’t need language to relate to others. Dance is a beautiful means to achieve the same end.

The UW-La Crosse alum has connected to others by learning and teaching dance throughout his life.

“I learned from a great UW-L instructor,” he said. “Now I’m able to pass that heritage on to other people.”

Blumentritt learned American dances from former UW-L instructor Kathy DuBois in the late 1980s after joining a folk dance group on campus, L-Bar-X Dancers, which entertained in the La Crosse community and overseas. The group of students from diverse majors became like a family as they made two trips to Europe to perform while Blumentritt was a student.

The group packed eight trunks full of everything from square dance dresses to cowboy hats and tap dance shoes for the European performance tour, recalls Blumentritt.

“America is a melting pot, so we have all these unique dances that have developed,” he explains. “And this group kept that heritage alive.”

They represented the United States abroad as they carried the flag in parades, wowed audiences on stages at folk festivals, and performed everything from the jitterbug to a slow waltz.

“We couldn’t even speak the language, yet somehow we were able to communicate with people,” Blumentritt said.

They had some good laughs in the process. Blumentritt recalls teaching a group of dancers from Poland the song, “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” When the translator explained the “quack, quack here and a quack, quack there,” they were rolling with laughter.

By the trip’s end, the group of dancers felt like a family, said Blumentritt. DuBois has heard from many former dance students who continue to teach dance or dance as a social outlet.

Blumentritt, of La Crescent, is now a social worker at Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, but at night you’ll find him at Concordia Ballroom still tapping his shoes to the beat on the ballroom floor. Today he is a nationally certified clogging instructor and has been teaching dance and performing across the country for 27 years. He calls his group of performing students “like another family.”

“I’m very proud of him and so glad that he took a lot away from the group, made it his own and kept going,” DuBois said.