If you've watched the University of Kansas marching band perform recently, chances are you've seen the high-flying batons of their featured twirler, Shannon Livengood.

If you've watched the University of Kansas marching band perform recently, chances are you've seen the high-flying batons of their featured twirler, Shannon Livengood.

Livengood has now graduated from KU and is the new head cheer and dance coach at Bethany College this year. In addition to teaching college students their routines, Livengood is starting the Bethany Dance and Baton Academy to instruct children in dance and baton twirling.

Originally from Clay Center, Livengood said she started twirling when she was four years old and started competing at the age of seven. She began to help teach twirling classes when she was in the sixth grade and competed on the national level. Livengood is a member of the United States Twirling Association and serves on the Kansas board.

"I never thought, at 24, I'd be opening my own little academy on the side. That's always been my dream," Livengood said. "I knew I wanted to teach dance. I've kind of taken a leap of faith."

Livengood plans to initially offer jazz on Monday nights and beginning twirling classes on Thursday nights for preschool through high school students. Classes will be held at the Stroble-Gibson Centennial Center on the campus of Bethany College.

"We're just going to start with a beginners class and see what the interest is," Livengood said. "I think that baton twirling is something new for the community. I'm really hoping to kind of bring a new art to Lindsborg, really it's kind of a lost art."

Livengood said classes will start Oct. 3. Class fees start at $40 per month, with discounts available for multiple children from the same family. The batons will cost $25 each.

"We start with a simple figure eight. We work a lot on wrist flexibility, eye-hand coordination, little pops and catches; they learn how to hold the baton correctly, how to stand correctly," Livengood said. "You get dance in twirling anyway, there's no way around it; you have to put footwork with your baton, so they're learning multiple skills right off the bat."

Both boys and girls are welcome to join the classes, Livengood said, adding that she has seen interest from boys in a class that teaches hip-hop dancing which she hopes to offer next year, along with tumbling and ballet.

"I always say I wouldn't be the person I am today without baton twirling," Livengood said. "I'm excited to get this started."

Enrollment for the Bethany Dance and Baton Academy classes will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, at the Stroble-Gibson Centennial Center on the campus of Bethany College, 335 E. Swensson St., Lindsborg. For more information about the classes or private lessons, contact Livengood at livengoodsl@bethanylb.edu or 785-447-1277.