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Troy School of Dance dancers show their stuff from New York to Nassau

From New York to Nassau, dancers from the Troy School of Dance have put their talents on display and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Three dancers with the Troy School of Dance Senior Company just returned from four days in New York City attending classes at the renowned Broadway Dance Center.

"You have to be good to be able to take classes at the Broadway Dance Center," said Laura Brown-Givins. "The classes target professional dancers or those who are working toward careers in dance. It is a real honor to be able to take classes there."

Brown-Givins said the dance center has 50-plus dance instructors on staff and people come to the center from all across the country and around the world.

Nikki Knox, Kristin Railey and Kaylee Barnes attended the Broadway Dance Center in an effort to improve their dance techniques, to see how they measured up against professionals and to see how serious they are about dancing.

"The girls held their own with the professional dancers and model who were there," Brown-Givins said. "They worked out with one dancer who is performing in on Broadway in '42nd Street.' They did extremely well and we all found out how serious they are about dancing. It was a grueling two days because they had such a busy schedule. It was hard work, but they learned a lot about dancing and about their commitment to it."

The dancers took 10 classes in a two-day span and were in class from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.

"They took five classes a day and each class was an hour and a-half to two hours," Brown-Givins said. "The took classes in jazz, hip-hop, lyrical dance and tap. We decided not to take ballet because we will have a ballet mistress at Troy School of Dance this year."

Being exposed to the dance routines of professional dancers and having an opportunity to learn by watching them learn was a unique experience for the dancers from the Troy School of Dance, Brown-Givins said.

"The girls learned that it's a big world of dance," Brown-Givins said. "And, although we were in New York for only four days and I wanted the girls to have an opportunity to experience the big city. So we took one day, just to sightsee."

The group visited the Empire State Building, Central Park, Ground Zero and attended the filming of a television show.

"We attended a

performance of 'Moving Out,' which is a dance musical that was nominated for several Tony

Awards. The music was Billy Joel arrangements. We all enjoyed that."

The New York trip was an all-around good experience for the girls," Brown-Givins said. "It was their first time in New York, their first time in a big city without their parents and and a chance to be independent. They had to manage their own money, travel around the city by cab and be involved in a regimented schedule of classes. They handled it real well. I was very proud of them."

And equally proud of her girls, was Trish Ratcliffe, director of SheBANG!!, the championship clog dance company.

Ratcliffe and a large group of parents chaperoned 27 cloggers on a cruise to the Bahamas. The clog dance company was the featured entertainment aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise liner on Saturday, July 26.

"Many people on the cruise had never seen clogging before, but they were very receptive and seemed to enjoy it," Ratcliffe said. "They were very complimentary of the performance."

SheBANG!! performed for 30 minutes before a packed house.

"We opened with 'Bahama Mama,' a number we put in especially for the cruise show," Ratcliffe said. "Everyone really liked that routine. It included a lot of lifts and stunts and it was a crowd pleaser."

Ratcliffe said she was somewhat surprised when the show opened and so many people were there to see SheBANG!! perform.

"The girls had gone around the ship inviting people to see them perform and we were pleased that so many came," she said. "We performed at 10:15 and that was a good time because everyone had finished dinner. People were hanging in the doors to see them."

SheBANG!! performed 10 routines, two of them with the entire clog dance company.

The opening and finale involved all the cloggers and other routines were performed by the three groups of cloggers.

The cloggers held a practice session on Saturday morning to work out the technicalities of being on stage on a cruise ship. Other than the practice session and the performance, they were on vacation.

"They got to tour Nassau and some of them went snorkeling; some went shopping and others went on other excursions," Ratcliffe said. "Everyone had a great time. This has been a very good year for SheBANG!!

"They have entertained at local functions and taken their road on the road to places like the Miracle Strip Amusement Park in Panama City and Walt Disney World. In October, they will perform at the Dixie Stampede and the Country Tonight Theater in Gatlinburg. It has been a really good year."