In the busy little industrial northern city of Fort McMurray, few residents work nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday jobs. Being able to commit to attending a class once a week for several weeks is difficult. Keyano College has ingeniously addressed that problem by establishing several continuing education dancing and cooking courses that take place on a single Saturday.
Sarah Imran is co-ordinator for the general interest programs in the community and says the students are usually dating or newly married couples who want to spend some quality time together learning a new dance step or how to make a meal together.

“They simply want to try something different,” she says. “Even though it’s often the ladies who drag their husbands or boyfriends to the three-hour introductory course, the men get enthusiastic very quickly.”

It’s not unusual for couples to complete the crash course and try immediately to find ways to attend a longer course by switching shifts with a co-worker or taking vacation days. The more extensive courses include salsa, meringue, cumbia and bachata, as well as various forms of Latin dancing at beginner and intermediate levels.

Another popular course offering is the Iron Chef, which is a healthy competition in the kitchen.

“When the couples arrive they are all given the same recipe, and given a certain period of time to prepare it,” she says. “When time is up, a chef, who has been observing, looks at the finished product and picks a winner.”

Some of the desired attributes include showing the best team work or being the most creative. Helpful suggestions are given to make the couple’s next foray into culinary bliss even more successful. The participants all sit down together to enjoy the tasty dishes, thereby establishing friendships and enjoying a social occasion as well.

The next scheduled learning opportunity is May 9, when students will assemble for Iron Chef at 10 a.m. After lunch, they then experience a Latin Dance Crash Course until 4 p.m. “They can take full advantage of their day off by participating in two fun activities,” says Imran. “They are trying something new while spending some time together and our students love it.”