National Dance Day a fun time for dancers at all levels

Participants follow the lead of dance instructor Tori Bryan, center, during a hip-hop dance class by the Danscompany of Gainesville for National Dance Day at the Alachua County Library District headquarters on Saturday.

Aaron Daye/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 10:32 p.m.

Early Whitaker, 4, kept telling the instructors she could perform the dance moves being shown, but when she couldn't, she improvised.

Early was participating in Saturday's Gainesville celebration of National Dance Day, an event started by "So You Think You Can Dance" judge Nigel Lythgoe that promotes health and wellness through dance.

Danscompany of Gainesville taught hip-hop at the Alachua County Public Headquarters Library at 10 a.m. and at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Elementary School at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.

People also participated in National Dance Day celebrations in Williston and at Santa Fe College, said Ginny Linder, a member of the Danscompany board.

Tori Bryan, Jerri-Lynn Minsavage and sisters Becca and Julie Clark taught the classes.

The four took turns leading the groups.

"We wanted to spread dance," Becca Clark said. "All of us have grown up dancing."

In the meeting room of the library, the session began with a warm-up set to Justin Bieber's "Baby." The instructors then taught a dance step by step set to Chris Brown's "Freeze."

Erica Penley, 13, is part of Danscompany, and she decided to come to the event because she is a fan of the show.

She dances hip-hop, ballet, jazz and tap and was enjoying the event, she said.

Lucinda Peng, 14, also attended the event. Her friend's mother was organizing the event, so she said she wanted to check it out and dance hip-hop for the first time.

Lucinda took dance at the dance center, so she was glad to see one of her instructors, she said.

Once the dance at the library was over, the 15 or so who attended were invited to go to Rawlings.

There, a group of 15, some of whom were from the first group, repeated the routine.

Danscompany works with the school through a program called Chance to Dance, where it teaches children to dance after school.

Diane Porter took her two daughters to the event because they enjoyed themselves at a dance camp they attended about a week ago.

She said she thought the classes were great because they give people confidence.

When Bryan told the dancers to inject their own style into the dance, Kayla Rohrer, 12, did just that.

Kayla attended both sessions and never held back.

"It was great. It showed everyone how great dance really is," she said. "(My favorite part) was just watching everyone smiling and dancing and having a good time."

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