Ah youth! Their excitement fills Danceworks studios with a warmth that tempers the cold sneaking in through our large glass windows these days. Danceworks Youth Performance Company (DYPC) is busy rehearsing Gingerbread Express—fun entertainment for families during this holiday season. It’s a great time to sneak a peek behind the scenes. I asked one of our faculty members, Jacqui Lefebvre, to share a little about her experience working with these young dancers. Danceworks Youth Performance Company is a perfect example of what Danceworks does best! This unique group of young dancers consists of kids of varying ages from totally different backgrounds, communities, socioeconomic lifestyles, family units and dance abilities, blended into a tightly knit company united by the joy and love of dance. Fiercely supportive of one another, these wonderful, inspiring young people work together willingly to be the best they can be. Typically, at company practice, the noise level of this artistic crowd can be off the charts! Not so typical of today’s youth is that there is no malice or sneering whatsoever. In our current world of cyberbullying, I look around and see these beautiful young people working on their choreography together. I notice Emily and Peyton comparing their foot arches while Tatyana practices her pirouette nearby. Lauren, Chelsea and Thalicia are helping each other achieve the best arm line, while Gabi is assisting a couple of the younger girls with the ”flip”—and they are looking at her with complete adoration! Jaron, as usual, is goofing around with the girls; but you know he’s going to have the routine down perfectly! On reflection, I realize the magic formula: There are no egos at play here! Regardless of dance ability there is an absolute feeling of equality. This company intrinsically understands the benefits of being part of a unit—of belonging to a thing by its very nature. Somehow they have figured out that together, they can do pretty much anything. It occurs to me that we are arming them with some pretty decent life skills. We proudly have two companies now—Junior and Senior. I am working with the DYPC director, Faith Halaska, to choreograph a cute little all company number for the holidays and am totally inspired by how the kids work. We are throwing choreography at them right and left, and these little troopers are trying to take the new stuff on board so they will be good to go for their performance. They are discussing their varying degrees of nervousness but can hardly stand still because they are all sooooo excited. These guys just LOVE to dance! I truly look forward to hanging out with these kids with their silly jokes and fake English accents [Deb’s note: Jacqui is from England]. You can really feel the love in the room; to open the door and hear a chorus of “Ms. Jacqui!” warms my heart, and I cannot wait to see the great heights that some of these beautiful young people will soar to. Seriously, we have woven a dance tapestry of individuals, and as good fortune would have it, we created something pretty special right here in our wonderful city. I am pretty sure you wouldn’t find anything like it anywhere else. None of this would be possible without the AMAZING Faith Halaska, Company Director and my dear friend. To see her vision come to fruition is a great honor and I am delighted to be a part of the journey. Gingerbread Express sold out last year. Don’t be disappointed— purchase your tickets now.
Junior Company: Olivia Baudhuin, Catherine Carroll, Peyton Davis, Serafina Ganther, Massara Hunsicker, Olivia Johnson, Thalicia Melendez, Gianna Melton, Lauren Moton, Joshua Newborn, Trinity Riley, Julia Schuessler, Jaron Tsuchiyama
Senior Company: Agana Baertlein, Jasmyne Carter, Peyton Dahse, Emily Koranda, Erika Krstic, Chelsea Marek, Tatyana Melendez, Gabrielle Sustache
Welcome to the Danceworks blog, where we're hoping to share a little bit more about the heart and soul behind Danceworks… what made us join the dance and keeps us dancing, what keeps us inspired, and where we can share some of the stories worth telling.