Photo by Matt Stensland
John Gillette, a dancer with From the Top, formerly Motion Underground, pumps up a crowd of Steamboat Springs Middle School students during a dance demonstration and workshop Friday. Steamboat Dance Theatre sponsored the school outreach program as well as a free community workshop at noon at Bud Werner Memorial Library.
Friday, September 30, 2011
- Saturday, October 1, 2011, noon to 1 p.m.
- Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs There were more than 100 sixth-graders packed into the Steamboat Springs Middle School gymnasium Friday afternoon, but as they danced, the only thing they had in common were their smiles.
They each moved in their own way through the hip-hop dance they were learning, some flailing their arms and others standing confused by the fancy footwork.
By the end of the 45-minute workshop with Denver dance troupe From the Top, not everyone had mastered the combination, but that wasn’t really the point.
“Dancing is a like a fingerprint,” From the Top dancer John Gillette said. “Everyone has a fingerprint, but no two are the same.”
Along with his six fellow dancers, Gillette stood before the sixth-graders with his flat-brim hat cocked to the side and a microphone in his hands, energetically directing the crowd of giggling preteens along to the synth-pop sound of a Chris Brown song.
Gillette said he sometimes has a hard time watching the children dance for fear he’ll get emotional in front of them.
“They inspire us more than we inspire them,” he said about leading dance workshops for students.
“We love it. It’s absolutely so good for the soul.”
From the Top, formerly known as Motion Underground, traveled to Steamboat this weekend as part of a school and community outreach effort by local nonprofit Steamboat Dance Theatre.
Tiana Buschmann, Steamboat Dance Theatre’s vice-president and former Motion Underground dancer, said the recent Annual Concert performances have raised enough money to restart the School Outreach Program, which she said fell by the wayside about a decade ago.
On Friday, From the Top led programs with middle and high school students and will offer a free community workshop at noon Saturday at Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library.
“It’s a positive experience for the youth to learn about dance, culture and music,” Buschmann said. “No matter what you do, you will always be exposed to dance — at weddings, bar mitzvahs and fitness classes. It’s just a part of our culture.”
Hip-hop gets a lot of attention in mainstream media, which portrays a glitzy and glamorous urban cultural movement. But the seven dancers of From the Top, in their T-shirts, jeans and sneakers, wanted to bring a more positive image of hip-hop to Steamboat students.
Dancer Asad Clinton said hip-hop brings a message of individuality and empowerment.
“You can always relate it back to yourself,” Clinton said.
Even after the workshop, the students each had their own take on what had just transpired, and every one of them was out of breath.
“I liked how they were like pros, and they taught it to us like it was easy,” student Amanda Walker said.
The hip-hop theme also provided a level of accessibility for many of the sixth-grade boys, who were putting their all into the dance right alongside the girls.
“Hip-hop is actually really nice,” student Tristen Opper said. “I loved the dance class. And I’m not really a dance type of guy.”
One of his classmates, Ashley Spiegel, has taken dance classes before but said she enjoyed being in the gym with all of her friends.
“It was really fun,” Ashley said, “because we all did it together.”
To reach Nicole Inglis call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com.