"A whole weekend of dancing" is how Greater York Dance artistic director Lori Pergament describes the center's June Jubilee.
From Friday night performances focused on reaching for the pinnacle of artistic achievement in dance to two different "Peace, Love, Dance" shows highlighting multiple dance styles on Sunday afternoon, audience members can experience all of the facets of the center's offerings.
The Dance It Forward outreach initiative caps off the Friday night show for the first time, providing the dancers for the finale.
New to dance: Pergament worked with school districts and guidance counselors to offer the Dance It Forward after-school classes, which involved 75 second- through sixth-graders from seven schools throughout York County.
"The children in the class have absolutely zero experience; the school districts supported it, giving the experience of real dancing," she says. "We tried to find students ... who would benefit, whose parents couldn't afford it, but we made sure it was open to anyone who wanted to come."
The program is a way of spreading the center's passion for dance.
"We are giving away the art of dance, enlightening other children to the joy and love we have for it," Pergament says.
She wants this year's Dance It Forward to be the start of something bigger, too.
"I want to grow the program next year, add two additional school districts, get a sponsorship to bring in a professional dancer for a week," she says. "(I) want to grow the program to 200 to 300 children on stage together."
Stepping up: The program also provides an opportunity for teenage members of the Midstate Ballet Company to improve their teaching skills.
Lexus Fritz is one of the teen teachers. She has spent part of the past six weeks teaching at two schools and is also one of the choreographers who will be featured in the June 15 Emerging Choreographers Showcase.
The 17-year-old Northeastern student says she has "been dancing for life." Fritz started with Greater York Dance when she was about 3. Now she's bringing her love and life of dance to younger students who have had no opportunity for dance instruction.
Pergament describes the busy schedule for the participating teen teachers: "This is week six. The teens would come right after school, work with the kids until 5, then rush back to our school for classes until 9."
Fritz enjoys that much dancing, she says.
"I like it personally. It keeps me in shape," Fritz says. "If I have a stressful day, I let it out at dance."
Her students also benefit, she says. "I think you're sitting all day at school and then you can let your energy out."
Fritz went from being unsure if she would enjoy teaching to being excited by the experience.
"I love it. It's great to show your passion, then great to see them smile and have fun learning new things they don't usually do," she says. "It was a challenge for me to try to come out of my shell; I've gained a lot of confidence. ... (I) had to teach myself to be confident, get out there for them."
Learning: Sinking Springs Elementary School fifth-grader Destiny Barley says she and her friends are "having a lot of fun" in the class.
"We talk at recess. (My friends) say how much they like the dance," she says, adding that the music and teachers are fun, too. "They're really nice, they show us some (other) moves that they've learned."
The Dance It Forward students will perform a professionally choreographed dance set to Blake Shelton's "Footloose."
Destiny has been previewing the dance for her friends and family. She's "happy and excited" when asked about performing on stage for the first time.
"I like the song, I like the dances, I like to move; the heart thing is my favorite," she says.
Fritz is pleased with her students' enthusiasm and progress.
"The Central kids picked it up the first day we did it," she says. "They don't forget it; they keep doing it. It's going to be great."
-- Reach Michelle Denise Norton at 854-1575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See the shows
The Greater York Dance June Jubilee will feature three different programs with performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 15, and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, June 17, at Central York High School, 601 Mundis Mill Road, Springettsbury Township.
Tickets are $5-$30.
The Midstate Ballet INConcert and Dance It Forward group will perform on Friday.
For tickets, call 755-6683.