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Dance center stages student recital

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

The students at the Eagle's Landing Dance Center recently took to the stage to show how they are "Changing the World Through Dance."

The performance, held at the Henry County Performing Arts Center June 7, included all 122 of the center's students, according to center Director Vanessa Gibson.

Because the large cast presented challenges in choreographing all the dancers, the performance was split up into two shows, Gibson explained. The first show featured routines by the younger students, between ages 3 and 6, she said, and the second show featured dance routines by students in the more advanced classes, between ages 7 and 19.

Adult dancers also performed, in styles like ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and liturgical.

The highlight of the recital, according to Gibson, was a performance based on dance routines by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. The Eagle's Landing center celebrated 50 years of dance this year with a liturgical number based on the piece, "Revelations."

The underlying message behind the theme of the performance, "Changing the World Through Dance," deals with how dance has evolved over time, and the role of dance as a medium in movies, advertising and popular culture, Gibson said. "It seems to be pretty effective," she said.

Attendance by family and friends of the performers was strong, Gibson said.

"We had somewhere between 300 and 400 people for the first show, and about 500 for the second show," she said.

Two of the students who performed were Ashley Slabaugh and Kyla Gibson, Vanessa Gibson's daughter.

Slabaugh, 16, has been a student at the center for six years.

The best thing about dance lessons at the facility, she said, is the opportunity to escape from the everyday routine.

"It's a release from everyday life, and school," the Stockbridge High School student said.

Additionally, Slabaugh said, dancing is a creative way to show specific emotions.

Kyla Gibson, a student at Centennial Place Elementary School in Atlanta, said she has taken lessons at the center "ever since I could walk."

Learning new dance steps is not hard, the 10-year-old said. "I catch on fast," she said. "The best thing about it is that it is something you can do to keep from sitting at home."

Vanessa Gibson said rehearsals for the performances began months in advance.

"We started working on the routines in January," she said. "Each class practiced once a week, [and] by April it was pretty well cleaned up."

Although they were technically ready to perform in April, Vanessa Gibson said the center waited until June, after school graduations, to stage the show.

Eagle's Landing Dance Center has its own performing company, she said, and the show also provided a chance to showcase the routines that dancers will take to the Stage One National Competition June 25-28 in Gatlinburg, Tenn.