Katy Fineman isn't your usual dance instructor. She isn't your usual anything, for that matter. Within three years of moving to Indianapolis, Fineman has redefined the context of IUPUI's Individualized Major Program and revolutionized the ballroom dancing and competition scene.

Dance first. Katy Fineman

Fineman, a multiple winner in worldwide competitions, formed and coaches this city's first and only line dance team. "Line dance is not just the Electric Slide," she slips in. The Rockettes do line dancing. Consider the Can-Can and even cheerleading. It's routine and formation to music and it's a serious pursuit on regional and national levels.

In 2003, Indy Fine Liners were named the U.S. Champion Line Dance Team, ranking fourth in the world.

"They are getting ready to reclaim their title in 2005," states Fineman, exuding confidence in what the all-volunteer group will do.

Oh, and the IUPUI Swing Cats, formed in May 2004, are already bringing their West Coast swing performance routine to shows out of state along with showcasing at local events.

"We're looking for a sponsor. Each time the Cats perform, they are invited to another event. Word gets out. Did I mention we need a sponsor to help with competing?"

Even her private students walk, er, dance away with trophies. Jan. 11, in Nashville, Tenn., Bruce Bower of Louisville placed third in the World's Country Dance competition. Fineman was his non-competing partner.

Fineman's story of why she came to Indianapolis is equally "wow."

"I moved from England to the U.S. with a couple of ambitions. To dance in the U.S. and to become a sign language interpreter. At the University of Akron I attained an associate's degree in sign language interpretation and transliteration, passing with distinction."

At the same time, she was introduced to West Coast swing, with steps and moves quite distinctive from the East Coast swing she already knew.

She started teaching dance and worked for the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center, but decided she wanted to get a bachelor's degree in interpreting. "IUPUI is one of only 13 universities to offer this program."

She casually tosses in "meeting a guy who agreed to become my dance partner if I moved to Indianapolis."

"I enrolled at IUPUI and realized interpreting was not for me. I heard of the Individualized Major Program and within two months I designed a major specifically for my dancing needs. It's certified through the College of Liberal Arts but includes physical education and the Kelley School of Business."

What she designed is a one-and-only degree in teaching social and competitive dance from the Honors College, with a minor in geography and business, and qualifications for teaching and judging in the U.S. and internationally.

For her research project on Salsa, she spent two weeks in Cuba, in conjunction with a grant from the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and the Geography of Cuba class offered at IUPUI.

The business minor qualifies her to run her own business. "The geography minor was added to fulfill my love for world current events, map making and to learn the latest geographic tool, GIS [Graphic Information System]. GIS is very useful in business and marketing."

She obviously learned well. Her private classes draw people regionally. Credit ballroom and swing classes at IUPUI are full, as are Community Learning Classes and Indy Swing Dance Club classes.

And she has three new DVDs for students to fine tune what's learned during group and private lessons. Contact Katy Fineman at 317-638-2870 or to obtain copies of Beginner West Coast Swing, Night Club 2-Step and Spins & Turns, each $20 or three for $50.

But what about that guy for, with, whom ... ?

"Just say I'm looking for a new dance partner."


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