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Dance on down the road with Dance Unlimited

Local dance studio provides well-rounded dance experience to students of all ages

By Janelle Fisher
City Pages Editor

A tornado won’t be the only thing twisting and turning at the Ashwaubenon Performing Arts Center March 12 — dancers of all ages will take to the stage in Dance Unlimited School of Performing Arts’ production of Dance on Down the Road, based on the story of The Wizard of Oz.

Dance Unlimited, formerly Bellevue Dance, is a non-profit dance studio offering dance instruction at the production, competition and recreational level in a wide variety of styles.

“We offer competition teams, as well as production, as well as just once per week recreational classes,” Sherry Turner, owner of Dance Unlimited, said. “So there’s three different things that we do, and then we offer everything in all styles. We offer tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop, poms, lyrical, contemporary, and acro dance.”

Turner said the studio offers such a large array of styles and levels in hopes of producing well-rounded dancers.

“I would say that is how we differ from other places,” she said. “We don’t just have an emphasis — like some studios are a big competition team studio, some studios are all about ballet. We go to competitions and the judges comment that we’re a very well-rounded studio.”

That well-roundedness shines through especially in the studios annual production, this year a show called Dance on Down The Road, based on the story of The Wizard of Oz with a few Dance Unlimited twists.

Most of the dance numbers in the production are choreographed by Production Director Emily Rome, who joined the team at Dance Unlimited four years ago and started up the studio’s production company just two years later.

“We have a tap number in there and we have hip hop,” Turner said. “We have hip hop, we have lyrical, we have jazz,” Turner said. “So [the show] has all the different styles of dance and I think that’s unique in our area. There are places that put on The Nutcracker, but that’s all ballet. This is actually a very well-rounded production with all the styles. So the kids that are in this production, they also get experience in all of those styles.”

The tap number, Turner said, is one style she’s thrilled to have been able to incorporate into this year’s show and something she plans to continue to include in the future.

“One thing that I’m really excited about this year is that we added tap into the production,” she said. “And we’re going to keep tap in every year. A lot of high school show choirs do tap and they do tap dance for their musicals. But for students now at studios, tap is just kind of getting to be a lost art. High school dance teams don’t tap. The kids think, ‘that’s what people used to do for dance. Nobody does that anymore.’ But it’s really cool when you get a lot of tap dancers together and you hear a large group of them. So we plan to keep tapping because it makes them very well-rounded dancers because it really helps their rhythm.”

The tap number is just one of several dance numbers in the show, following the journey of Dorothy after the tornado drops her house not in Oz, but in New York.

“We have Dorthy, we have a lion and we have a scarecrow,” Turner said. “The house lands in New York City, by Broadway, rather than in the Land of Oz. And Dorothy is worried she’s going to miss her dance recital back in Green Bay. She meets people along the way — the lion, the scarecrow, the good witch — and the bad witch gives her trouble along the way as she’s trying to get back to Green Bay.”

Turner said rehearsals began many months ago for the core group of performers in the production, but the production is really an all-studio effort with many other students involved in at least one number in the show.

“We have 17 main members… and 10 junior company members,” she said. “The junior company members are ages 5-8 and the main company members who play all the character roles are ages 8-18. We also have an overlap where many of our competition team members who are not in our production companies were invited to join us for one of the songs that we have in the production, so we have 10 additional students from our competition team performing. In total we have about 37 performers.”

Many members of the studio put in their time and effort to make the production a success, and in turn Turner said the productions, which Dance Unlimited has put on for three years now, provide support for the studio.

“This is just our third year doing this,” she said. “We’re a pretty young studio and we’re growing. Last year we put on Malana, and that was actually the Moana story. And the year before that it was the Lion King story… We’re trying to get our name out there so that we’re recognized and so people from the community can start looking forward to our annual production.”

If you’re interested in supporting Dance Unlimited, tickets for this year’s production are on sale now at ashwaubenonpac.org. More information about the show and studio can be found on Dance Unlimited School of Performing Arts’ Facebook page.

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