2008-06-28 / Top News

Dance Classes Planned With Help of Local Grant

By Caitlyn Kienitz

Mackinac Island students, along with dance instructor Jo Cooley of Mackinaw City, strike a pose to start the hip-hop routine they learned during a demonstration Thursday, May 22. The demonstration gave students a taste of dance classes that will be offered in the fall with the help of a Youth Advisory Committee grant. Mackinac Island students, along with dance instructor Jo Cooley of Mackinaw City, strike a pose to start the hip-hop routine they learned during a demonstration Thursday, May 22. The demonstration gave students a taste of dance classes that will be offered in the fall with the help of a Youth Advisory Committee grant. Excited students darted back and forth across the gymnasium floor as they learned new dance moves as part of a demonstration Thursday, May 22. The demonstration served as a preview for youth dance classes scheduled for fall.

About 15 students are expected to attend when school resumes in September, said Allison Sehoyan, who helped organize the program. While 10 students attended Thursday's demonstration, she said several others were excited about the class but were unable to stay after school Thursday.

A grant from the Mackinac Island Community Foundation's Youth Advisory Committee will pay $72 for each student enrolled in the classes, which Ms. Sehoyan said is enough to fully cover the cost of the class for any interested student. She said she sought the funds because Community Foundation grants have helped other organizations in the past.

"We thought it would be something they would be interested in because it would bring so much to the students," she said of the Youth Advisory Committee, which is comprised of students who manage an endowment to enrich the quality of life on Mackinac Island.

Mackinaw City dance instructor Jo Cooley will visit the Island weekly next fall to teach dance classes to youth. Students learned a brief routine during the demonstration.

Ms. Cooley works with a group in Mackinaw City that performs dance routines at high school basketball games. She has a master's degree in dance education from the University of Michigan, owned a dance studio in Tecumseh, and has taught at small community colleges and in Mackinaw City, St. Ignace, and Petoskey. She also has choreographed school and community musicals and hosts a summer dance workshop with her daughter, who is a Radio City Rockette.

The fall session is expected to last eight weeks. Ms. Cooley expects that the class will be split into two age groups.

"We're going to be age appropriate," she said. "The type of teaching should be different."

Some of the girls at the demonstration were interested in ballet or tap, she said, so the older students will likely start with one of those.

Sign-up for the dance classes will begin in early fall.

"I was happy to come over there," she said, adding that the students seemed excited about dance. "It's always nice," she said, "to have kids who are happy to be there."

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