Coast 2 Coast Supports National Dance Week

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Mr. Louie speaking to CK Dance Theatre Dancers in Mississippi

Hello from “Coast 2 Coast: Dance Across America!” We’re a Not-for-Profit dance organization that travels the country each year during National Dance The C2C Crew consists of Choreographer Louie Perez, Executive Director and Tour DJ Jimmy Lyles, and Illusionist Ryan Dutcher. We set out on this mission to motivate and teach everyone we meet to “Never Give Up

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Hannah Berry Grand Prize $1000 Scholarship presentation

The reason we started this is because of a boy’s love for dance and his determination to never give up on his dream. When our choreographer, Mr. Louie Perez, emigrated from Cuba to America at the age of 10, life was hard for his family. There came a time when he could no longer afford dance lessons, but his first dance teacher, Patsy Metzger, saw his passion for the arts. She allowed him to mop the floors at Debbie Reynolds Studio in North Hollywood, CA as payment for dance class– and the rest is history! Louie set out on this journey to “pay-it-forward” through his passion of dance and is making headlines across the country with the “Coast 2 Coast: Dance Across America” Tour!

When you think of New York… what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Of course many will say New York City, but there are approximately 55,000 square miles in the State of New York. We live about an hour from Times Square, so all three of the Coast 2 Coast Crew members have been heavily influenced by the greatest theater district in the world! Going from “Big City America” to “Small Town U.S.A.,” we get the opportunity to see the diversity of America. Although we have many states and studios to visit within National Dance Week—when we do have a few minutes of time, we try to take in some local landmarks. We’ve walked through the gates of Graceland in Memphis and we’ve seen the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Montana. We got the chance to dance in the Four Corners of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico—we’ve “Viva’d” in Las Vegas and danced in North Hollywood in the same studio that Michael Jackson’s Thriller was choreographed in! We found out there was more than corn in Indiana and not only potatoes in Idaho. We got to be in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby and even stopped by that famous “Dance Moms” studio in Pittsburgh—not to mention we’ve only been at it for two years! Just like most of the country thinks New York is one big city, each and every state from “Coast 2 Coast” has something special to offer! But one thing that we all love and can agree on about getting to tour the country each year is the differences between not only the landscape of the country, but the people that you meet.

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125 participants from Miss Lori’s Dance Express in Michigan

 

Everybody has a story to tell, but you don’t always get to hear about it. Before each class we give our backstories; we’re three guys from three different backgrounds and are living proof that you can overcome any obstacle that’s in your path. Not only does this tour promote the health and fitness side of dance, but it also encompasses the ideals of persistence, perseverance, passion, and positivity. The tour proves that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things and students learn that no dream is too large or small—you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to, as long as you work hard.

What makes us unique is that participation is free of charge to students and studios nationwide and we actually get to visit, motivate, and teach at different locations across the country. This makes students more comfortable in their home studio and it also brings the opportunity to those who may not have the means to attend an additional workshop. We feel very honored to be asked to be a guest blogger for the National Dance Week Foundation If you would like to participate or are interested in seeing more of what we do during National Dance Week, please visit us online at: www.Coast2CoastDance.org, follow us on Instagram: @Coast2CoastDance and www.Facebook.com/Coast2CoastDance!  You can also view our official 2015 Tour Video https://youtu.be/sFPx4PTAWrw.

Please feel free to visit our website: www.Coast2CoastDance.org to find out more about where we have been and what we do! We provide a one hour Master Class free of charge to students and studios nationwide, all in celebration of dance and National Dance Week. Not only do we get to visit with thousands of dancers, we’re also able to award dance scholarships to keep kids dancing at their home studios throughout the country. We’re very happy to announce that our 2015 Scholarships were awarded to Hannah Berry from Miss Lori’s Dance Express in Michigan ($1000), Kallisty Adkins from Dance Attitudes in Wisconsin ($500), and Aubrie Connelly from Kathy Blake Dance Studios in New Hampshire ($250).

 

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It’s Officially Summer by Cathy Graziano NDWF Executive Director

Summer has officially begun and it is time to recharge and relax.  Summertime for most dancers means the recitals are over and dance semesters have ended, it also is the closing of another successful National Dance Week Foundation year.  I personally along with all our board members want to say thank you for all your hard work, especially to our hard working NDWF Representatives.

NDWF’s year runs from July 1st to June 30th.  So we begin our year with our Algy sponsored anti bullying Kick for Kindness campaign in October and round out with our celebration of Nation Dance Week at the end of April.

The Kick for Kindness was a call to action for dancers of all ages to take the lead and “kick”  bullying.The support was expressed in kickline performances, banners created and

Carter Dance Company - Houston Texas

Carter Dance Company – Houston Texas

posted, proclamations signed and wonderful expressive dances.  We are looking for even more support and a greater response for 2015.

 

National Dance Week was action packed with our dance mob, essay and poster contests.  DanceSpirit.com also posted our essay winner – thank you Dance Media. The 2016 date is April 22-May 1st – so start making plans to join in the fun.  Take the plunge and become a leader in your area as an official National Dance Week Foundation.  Join today! http://www.nationaldanceweek.org/representatives/

Bemus Point Elementary School

Bemus Point Elementary School

 

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The Power of Dance

Fun, beautiful and powerful.  Read about the Power of Dance and Hire A Dancer.

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Dance is in the air! by Joyce Pennington NDWF Board Member and owner American Dance/Drill Team

Spring is in the air!  Yes, leaps, turns, high kicks, glitzy costumes, dynamic confetti cannons are lighting up the stages around the country as dance teams are presenting their Spring Shows and studios are preparing for the Recitals.  It is a time of year where the dancers will have the chance to present a series of performances that culminate the entire year Joyce - May 2015and show the results of 12 months of hard work.  It is so refreshing to see so many parents, family and friends turn out for these shows in support of their dancers.  Through the past few decades, the shows have all taken on a more dynamic presentation with professional lighting, special effects, creative staging and props, themed shows and exciting finalé

Apache Belles

Apache Belles

performances that will bring the crowd to their feet.

It is also a review of the most exciting costumes in the industry.  Color, glitter, and innovative designs fill the stage with excitement and add so much to the performance.  The dance wear industry is constantly striving to stay ahead of the game with costumes that have that ‘Wow Factor.’
Congratulations to all the dancers that are performing their last performance of the school year and may your show bring back all the great memories of an exciting season of dance.  “Break a leg!”

Whitehouse High School

Whitehouse High School

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Dance Mom by Anneliese Wilson NDWF Vice Chair Board Member and owner of ABC for Dance

My mother was a professional dancer and I always swore I wouldn’t be following in her footsteps, funny how things change from when you were 8.  One year I remember asking to take dance with all of my friends at the local studio and being told “No, but I’ll drive your friends to Studio X so they can take class with you”.  Another year I remember finding it extremely difficult and asking to quit and being told that I could quit, but not

My mother as an aspiring dancer

My mother as an aspiring dancer

until after the end of the term.  And then there was the painting the reception desk with white out incident that ensured I was never stuck sitting in the lobby again but instead, was safely in class and out of trouble whenever I was at the studio.  Not the most auspicious beginnings for a what has turned into a 30+ career in the dance industry for me.

Through it all my mother brought me to class, taught me to sew my shoes and put my hair into a bun, listened to my vents when casting lists went up, suggested new teachers to work on different aspects of my dancing and supported my dreams and goals.  When I opened my studio, she was my biggest supporter and even taught for me.  She was a sounding board and the person I could brag, cry and vent to – often in the same conversation.  We also had the common mother / daughter relationship where we loved each other unconditionally, but managed to push each other’s buttons without having to try.

 

I realized one day that I had never properly thanked her for taking the hard road and being the mom, even with the pre-teen and teenage me told her I hated her, so I did it publicly by dedicating one of my training manuals that was on a subject dear to her heart to her.  The timing was prophetic, she passed away suddenly a couple of months after that manual was published.  I was glad she had seen the dedication and we had a chance to discuss it and she realized that I had grown to appreciate everything she did for me.  While I miss her and think of her every day, I’m fortunate that my mother in law is also a former professional dancer and I can call her and share my dance studio stories with her.

hen I had my studio and as a teacher, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and learning from hundreds of amazing dance moms.  As with anything, we might not always agree, but I respect the love, dedication and sacrifices I see them making for their children.  I appreciate the moms who step up and act like moms, even when their child is having a tantrum in the waiting room because they were told no.  I love the moms who realize that I’m not just trying to teach their child to dance, but to think, act respectfully, develop teamwork and learn about themselves, their bodies and the art of dance.  I’ve now been in this business long enough that I have a special new breed of dance moms, my former students who now are having children of their own, spread all over the country.  Some of their children might dance, some might not, but from the pictures and posts I follow on social media, I can see that my students remember a lot of those non dancing skills they were taught in the studio and are passing them on to their children.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the amazing dance moms in the world.

mom2 Anneliese

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NATIONAL DANCE WEEK 2015

National Dance Week…..April 24 – May 3 2015.  It is my pleasure especially at times like this to be the Executive Director of such a wonderful and positive non-profit foundation.   Thank to all who have spent time, energy, and effort to get as many as possible to “Celebrate Dance and Promote Fun Fitness” .

NDWF’s mission statement is To Expose and introduce as many people as possible to the enjoyment and benefits of dance thru promoting dance in schools, expanding community awareness, and increasing professional development.”  This is accomplished thru many facets that everyone can get involved in. Pick one or two or all then – have fun and get others to join in.

National Dance Week – a nationwide 10 day celebration with events encompassing all forms of dance to all groups of people.  http://nationaldanceweek.org/ndw/ndw

Dance Mob – (during NDW) Dancers and non-dancers alike share the joy of dance together. http://nationaldanceweek.org/dance-mob/main/

Essay/Poster Contest – (during NDW) Avenue for those to express what dance means to them thru words and art. http://nationaldanceweek.org/ndw/essay-poster/

Kick for Kindness Anti Bully Campaign – (October – November) Dance kick line or dance related events to rally everyone and get others involved to take a stand against bullying. http://nationaldanceweek.org/k4k/main/

Representatives – Volunteers who bring awareness of NDWF on a regional level. http://nationaldanceweek.org/representatives/

Dance Power – Competitions giving an award to those whose lives have been enhanced by dance. http://nationaldanceweek.org/dance-power/competition/

Whatever you do share your fun and send us your pictures and videos.

Cathy Graziano

Executive Director

National Dance Week Foundation

888-267-4079

www.nationaldanceweek.org

cathy@nationaldanceweek.org

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Let’s celebrate dance! by Suzanne Blake Gerety Director of DanceStudioOwner.com

It is time to put some of the fun back in dance.  This is what National Dance Week inspires us to do. Get out there and spread the excitement and celebrate all the joy that dance offers.

Couldn’t we all use a little more joy and fun in our lives?SuzanneGeretyDSOHeadshot (2)

You are the dance advocates, the believers, and the passionate teachers.  You do make a difference. Thank you!

Here are some ways you can share about all the fun you are going to have, plus celebrate what you create during National Dance Week

#1. Snap and share photos and share on your studio’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Use a free app such as Pic Stitch to create a collage or add patterns, overlays, text, or effects to your images.

#2. Schedule some social media updates in advance so that you can enjoy the moments but keep the conversation going. This will make you feel organized and right in the middle of the celebration. Use the Facebook scheduler or app such as HootSuite.

#3. Celebrate dance with color! Print this dance activity coloring page and use with your younger students. Use it as a conversation starter about what they love about dancing or have them decorate your classroom or waiting areas with completed pages!

We can’t wait to see what you’re going to create this year!

http://www.dancestudioowner.com/public/Celebrate-Dance.cfm

Suzanne Blake Gerety is the Director of DanceStudioOwner.com, the leading online resource to help start, run, and grow your dance studio. She is a long-time columnist for Dance Teacher Magazine’s “Ask the Experts” and is the 2nd generation owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire.  

 

 

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Love Your Body Week: teaching body positivity through dance by Mary Pisegna Gorder

It is no secret that dancers have complicated relationships with their bodies. On the one hand, our bodies are our art, our livelihood, and our means of expression. On the other, as we train in dance, it is easy to feel as though we are fighting against our bodies—like we are being held back by our physical limitations and by the ways we don’t measure up to our industry’s ideals. This paradox was the impetus for creating Love Your Body Week. Managing and facilitating Love Your Body Week is by far one of the most rewarding parts of my job, and having it as a part of our studio calendar each year makes me proud to be a faculty member at All That Dance. During Love Your Body Week, we take time out of each class for activities focused on fostering healthy body image in our dancers. It is our goal to create a culture of kindness among our students and staff, and to cultivate an environment that is accepting and supportive of all sorts of dancers and body types. We certainly aren’t trying to diagnose or treat any disorders, or to claim any sort of expertise in that area (though we offer contact information for professional resources to dancers or family LYBW NW (2)members who express interest). As so many dancers do, I struggled as a teen and young adult with my own body image issues. I have known what it is like to be consumed by negativity and self-doubt, and, as such, Love Your Body Week is very close to my heart. Helping young dancers navigate their own road to LYBW photo 6self-acceptance is such important work, and it is an honor and a joy for me to be able to devote so much of myself to that cause.

Love Your Body Week at All That Dance was started in 2005 by my dear friend and mentor, Rachel Stewart. As teachers, we all witness those distressing moments where our young students experience body dissatisfaction. Rachel was struck by one such moment in particular, when some of her 5-year-old students were comparing the sizes of their thighs.  Rachel was compelled to work to counteract the negative messages about our bodies present in the media every day, and also to acknowledge the additional pressures that young dancers face. Rachel approached our studio founder and director, Maygan Wurzer, who supported the endeavor wholeheartedly. Maygan’s vision for her studio was always one of a warm, supportive environment in which all dancers, regardless of body type, can feel at home.  It was clear to her from the beginning that Love Your Body Week would be an excellent addition to her program. We started involving student leadership in 2006. Rachel collaborated with another instructor, Emily German, to work with the members of our chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA). These high school dancers are in our highest technique levels, and on top of maintaining high GPAs at school, they are very involved in our studio community. They participate in dance-focused service work, and Love Your Body Week has become a big part of that mission.

I started working with NHSDA in 2009, and it has been such a pleasure to continue to build Love Your Body Week. As our NHSDA Chapter Sponsor, I work to develop the week-long curriculum each year and oversee the facilitation of the event. For me, watching teens take ownership of Love Your Body Week is always what is most exciting. NHSDA members begin the event by spending a Sunday afternoon preparing and decorating the studio. Each year I am truly amazed by the enthusiasm that these students share for Love Your Body Week, and their investment in its message. As the week progresses, NHSDA members visit classes to lead activities with younger dancers as well as with their peers. Each student writes or draws something that they appreciate about their body and tapes it to the mirror. For our littlest dancers, this means choosing a favorite body part to draw a picture of and thinking about what that part allows them to do. Older children pay compliments to their classmates and to themselves. Teens dive into deeper conversations exploring body positivity through a number of lenses, such as the way an individual’s energy can influence those around them, or the value and potential pitfalls of a dancer’s relationship with the mirror. By the end of the week, our mirrors are completely covered with positive words and images about our bodies. This makes a powerful visual statement about focusing on the things our bodies can do rather than on what we look like—not always an easy task for the young dancer.

At the beginning, Love Your Body Week felt revolutionary, and in some ways it still does.  However, I think what is most significant is seeing how normal and expected it is for our dancers now. Love Your Body Week is just as much a part of our annual schedule as our year-end performances. It is a beloved studio tradition, and most of our current students don’t remember a time before its existence. These dancers have grown up with the clear and intentional expectation that they be kind to one another, as well as an understanding that it is important to also be kind to themselves. These are the things we want them take with them into college and adulthood. It is our hope that our dancers leave us as graduates not only with technical proficiency and a solid work ethic, but also with an appreciation for their bodies and for the joy that can be found in dance.

Teaching young artists is an enormous responsibility. As dance teachers, we have the ability to empower and to inspire. We can help to shape the way our students perceive themselves, the way they connect to dance, and, really, the way they process the world around them. It has become clear to me in my own teaching that confidence and a sense of self-worth are hugely important in the development of artistry. As I watch my students grow and mature, I can clearly see that when a dancer believes she has value, she is more willing to push herself, to take risks, and to put herself out there and be vulnerable for the sake of her art. I know that we can’t save all of our dancers from ever experiencing feelings of self-doubt or insecurity. We can, however, do our best to invest in each of our students, to help them feel acknowledged and supported, to help them see and appreciate their gifts and the potential that they each hold. I also know that Love Your Body Week can’t serve as a band-aid, and that we can’t solve any of these problems simply by spending one week talking about them. We must be mindful about how we interact with our students and the messages that we send them throughout all of our time with them.

Love Your Body Week gives us a chance to step back and remind our students, and ourselves, to be grateful for what our bodies do for us day in and day out—that we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to dance, and to share in that passion with those around us. At All That Dance, we believe that if we are able to create a positive and encouraging environment for our dancers, they will leave us with enough self-assurance to be able to maintain their love for dance in many different contexts. Some will choose to pursue dance in college or beyond, others will not. Either way, we want to help them find a greater appreciation for themselves and help ensure that their time as dancers constructively influences their identities throughout their lives. Working with children and teens as they negotiate complex questions of body image is challenging, even heartbreaking at times. Dancers have complicated relationships with their bodies, and that fact may never change. Still, as dancers, we can also become exceptionally connected to our bodies, a truth that can influence who we are in so many wonderful ways. Dance can build us up, teach us to push beyond our limits, fortify our minds, and embolden our spirits.

Mary Pisegna Gorder is a dance instructor, Ballet Department Lead and National Honor Society for Dance Arts Chapter Sponsor at All That Dance in Seattle, WA.  She teaches children and teens ages 4-18, and holds a B.S. in Psychology with a Minor in Dance from the University of Oregon.IMG_0575

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Dancerprenuer by Susan Epstein NDWF Board Member

It’s my new word.  I have come to realize that we are more than dancers; we are creative innovators, reinventing ourselves over and over again, sometimes at considerable risk.  That’s the perfect word for us – Dancerpreneur.  Dancers are often multi-tasking – performing, teaching, writing and working all at the same time.  Sound familiar?  How do you know your one? Sure you’re focused and dedicated, but you are more than that.  Here are the signs that you are a Dancerpreneur.

  • You’re Passionate
    • This probably the most important and telling sign.  There will be times when you have no performing work, you haven’t had a call back in a while, your students aren’t progressing like you want, your choreography is stuck, you keep interviewing for that arts admin job, but you don’t get it – in other words it looks the everything is just BAD – yet you continue – you push on – you don’t give up.
  • You’re Creative
    • And you use that creativity to solve problems.  Entrepreneurs are infinitely clever.  You have resources but more important you are resourceful – using what you have to get where you want to go.
  • You Take Action
    • Dancers have an action based problem solving approach and more times than not just “go for it” rather than over analyzing a strategy and spending time writing a detailed plan.
  • You have too many good ideas – all the time
    • Your brain never stops working.  Some people call it the “Shiny Penny Syndrome”  You know, all your attention is focused on the penny you picked up until they see a newer, shinier penny (a new idea) and you completely forget about the first penny. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the one shiny penny in your hand.
  • You need to keep moving
    • You have an enormous amount of energy.  You find that you are still focused and hard at work when others around you are ready to stop.  Your energized approach is what makes you stand out.
  • You take chances
    • Many times you have an idea you want to pursue and everyone will tell you you’re crazy, or that it will never work, or that it will fail, and you do it anyway.  You are the ultimate optimist.  You know that your hard work will pay off.
  • You’re highly motivated
    • Something inside you makes you go.  You don’t know what it is, but it pushes you forward.  You don’t have to rely on someone else to inspire you, you inspire others.

If all this adds up to you, welcome to my world.  Dancerpreneurship is a difficult and rewarding pathway, but it is so much fun!  So follow your dreams and make them happen, it’s a lifestyle worth living.

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Susan Epstein – West Park Productions and NDWF Board Member

 

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NATIONAL DANCE WEEK in ST LOUIS by Linda Green

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Flash Mob

Eighteen years ago I attended a dance convention whom the director of was an acquaintance. We spent time talking during lunch and he asked if I would be interested in organizing an event in St. Louis that would celebrate National Dance Week. He told me that NYC was holding a public performance event with hopes to revive the celebratory week.

As I pondered what I could potentially do and how it could be meaningful, it occurred to me that for the many years that I had been a studio owner in St. Louis, I always felt that the city had a “lonely” dance community. Studios were not connecting with each other in any significant ways and there was no reason why they could not and should not do so. If I could organize a day of dance involving likeminded dancers on one stage, then that would be something to celebrate.

And so it was decided, I would offer an event that was reflective of the quality of dance in our community, unify the dancers of our community, and ultimately positively impact our community.

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Missouri Ballet Theatre

Our first event was held in 1997, at the St. Louis Union Station. Our tiny stage consisted of wood squares that measured about a measly 12×12 feet placed on a concrete floor. Union Station generously told me that they had a sound system we could use, but unfortunately, to avoid the terrible static sound emanating over the speakers, my poor husband had to delicately hold a cable in place for our entire one and a half hour performance (for those of you who have been performing for decades, you know these struggles all too well). I believe we had about six groups that performed…we made it through and had a decent audience. All in all it was a lovely day,   what more could you ask for?

Since my youth, growing up and performing in NYC, I have possessed a dedication and passion for dance and have always welcomed hard work. Now, in the eighteen season of National Dance Week, I am thrilled to tell you that our event is highly recognized and anticipated among the studio owners, dance company’s, university company’s,  dancers and audiences alike. The excitement and enthusiasm among the dancers and artistic directors has become a very strong presence at our event where now we feature over 50 studios and dance troops.  We actually have to turn dancers away due to time constraints.

The audience overflows the performance venue (still held at the St. Louis Union Station) and we are a featured event by news outlets throughout the city.

A number of years ago we established the annual St. Louis NDW Honorary Dance Company Award which is given to a dance company which has shown both dedication and passion in their work. Over the years that honor has gone to MADCO, aTrek Dance Theatre, Afriky Lolo, The Slaughter Project, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, Viva Flamenco, The Big Muddy Dance Company, Missouri Ballet Theatre, and Ashleyliane Dance Company, the 2015 awardee.

We have also had the honor to include guest artists and speakers such as the Kansas City Ballet Company, Alvin Ailey, Jo Rowan (Dance Chairman Oklahoma City Unversity), and Michael Uthoff (Executive Director of Dance St. Louis) to name a few. We have had the pleasure to hold various master dance classes and injury prevention workshops.

The local businesses who have been steadfast supporters helping to make our event a success since the early days of inception are; Dancewear Solutions, for our beautiful marley covered 40×25 raised stage; AudioActive Projects, who provides us with a professional sound system and sound technician; Jonathan R. White Photography; DanceArt Graphic Design for our website; Eureka Sign and Display for our stage banner; Union Station, providing the performance venue; Stages Performing Arts Academy; Edison Theatre; and Enterprise Bank and Trust.

To sum up, the reason I continue year after year to spearhead this event, along with a dedicated committee working with me, is because I can see the synergy and enthusiasm that has developed over the past 18 years. When fifty dance company’s come together to heighten the awareness of dance and expand dance education to the public by presenting a day of dance and a multitude of dance disciplines…something special happens.

I am proud to say that our event is a testament to the thrill an audience receives being entertained and the positive impact performers have as a result of one single word…  DANCE!

Please visit our website www.nationaldanceweekstl.com and Like us on Facebook!

Peace,

Linda Green

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