BY KATIE MATTESON
Park High School alumna Erika Bozinovski adored her pom pon coach, Marilyn Mrkvicka. After graduation in 1999, Bozinovski kept in touch with “Mrk” and continued to choreograph routines and serve as assistant coach for the team while she studied dance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and afterwards when she stayed in Madison to pursue a professional career as a choreographer, teacher and coach.
Her resume includes teaching hip hop at UW-Madison’s Dance Department, Division of Continuing Studies and PEOPLE program, as well as various choreographer and coaching positions for high school and college dance teams in the Madison area.
Her specialty: hip hop.
Her mission: “To legitimize hip hop dance as an art.”
In 2008, she founded Sweatshop Movement in Madison. She brought it to Racine after returning home in 2014 to take over Park’s pom and dance program after Mrkvicka was unable to continue coaching. Her mentor died from breast cancer on Oct. 7, 2014.
The next year she shifted her focus to expand Sweatshop Movement to Racine while maintaining a part-time program in Madison. She established federal non-profit status for the school and operates with a four-member Board of Directors.
Bozinovski started with 35 students in studio space on the second floor of the Living Light Christian Church building at 740 College Ave.
She felt right at home there because it was the place that she first took swimming lessons at the former YWCA. Later, she also taught dance lessons in what is about to become her second studio.
With her enrollment now approaching 100, she simply needs more space. She’s currently working on installing mirrors, repairing the floors and painting, as well as seeking donations of cubby shelves, a desk and a dehumidifier.
Her program is divided into three age groups. The elementary students meet from 4:30 – 6 p.m., the middle school students from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. and the high school students from 6 – 8:30 p.m. During the summer she holds daytime classes.
Bozinovski encourages her students do well and exhibit positive behavior at school and said her students maintain a 3.2 grade point average overall. She requires each student to get progress reports from their teachers every two months.
In addition, she also teaches hip hop and poms as part of an afterschool program at six schools in Racine Unified School District.
In 2018, Sweatshop Movement also received an ArtSeed grant from the Racine Arts Council. “SNOW Motion is an annual Winter Dance Showcase, and a county-wide celebration of the joy of movement. The line-up is made up of dances from Racine SWEAT Competitive Dance Teams, as well as students in various After School programs offered through Racine Unified School District and United Way. This showcase gives young dancers the opportunity to share the stage with professional artists, inspiring their own work while also encouraging them to continue pursuing their interest in dance and the arts. The show also aims to encourage Racine to get moving as both dance and regular movement positively impacts our lives.”
Other upcoming events include an appearance in the OneRacine Festival on Oct. 6 and at the Great America Spooktacular on Oct. 7. Her top team has also auditioned to perform in November for the second year in the World of Dance competition in Chicago.
Bozinovski said her students are most excited to perform during halftime at the Bucks/Bulls game in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Nov. 28. Watch for upcoming details about how to buy tickets for the event.
She’s also looking forward to offering new bboy and bgirl breakdancing classes starting in October on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
Fees for the classes range from $35-$55 per month, depending on the level of competition, and partial scholarships are available for qualified students.
In addition to some grant funding, the organization also conducts fundraisers at local restaurants and sells popcorn.
For more information, like Sweatshop Movement on Facebook and visit its website, sweat-move.org.