Dance program gives kids better chance

A group of girls from the Dance Journey program in Yeadon gather together before they perform. — SUBMITTED PHOTO

Since opening its doors eight years ago, Dance Journey has provided local kids with the opportunity to learn from some of the best dance instructors in the region.

Through dance, the students in the program, have learned the art of modern dance while evolving into young men and women.

Located at 718 Church Lane in Yeadon, this dance company is proving that there is no limit to what the kids in its program can do.

“Dance means something different for everybody,” said Denise “Nece” Lewis, artistic director of Dance Journey. “When our children walk through our doors we don’t know what their dealing with at home, but we’re not judgmental. While they are on our watch, we want to give them the value of everything that we have.

“Dance, for me, taught me patience, discipline, team work, how to be successful and [to] want to be the best,” she added. “These are all qualities that our students may be learning. We don’t want them to be the best dancer, but the best ‘them.’ We want them to succeed on the dance floor and in life. That is what our program is all about — giving them the tools to become the better them.”

The mission of Dance Journey is that through the art of dancing, students can prepare for life’s journey by helping them become better young people and helping them reach their dreams. Dance Journey offer classes in creative movement, pre-dance, ballet, toe, jazz, modern, tap and hip-hop.

The student’s ages range from 3 to 18. The program also offers Zumba and Zumba toning for adults. Some of the students are taught by instructors, Lewis, Tenniele M. Jenkins, Shavaun Swygert and Brandi M. Merritt. There are currently over 60 students participating in the program.

The adult program offers classes in creative movement, pre-dance, ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop

modern, Zumba and Zumba toning.

“One of [the] goals for the program is that we want to get more young boys involved,” she said. “When we were at Eastwick we did have a few boys take tap and hip-hop, but it’s been kind of difficult to get boys into the program. Unfortunately, this season we did not have any boys participate in the program, so we want to get more boys by reaching out to them this summer.”

Lewis has spent over 42 years in the performing arts, beginning as a student, becoming a performer and later, an educator. She received her early training at the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts under the direction of its founder and director Joan Myers Brown.

She studied, trained, performed and taught at the school for over 33 years. In l970, she became one of the original members of the Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) where she continued working even after retiring from performing holding many positions for Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown.

Lewis said while she’s grateful for everything that she has accomplished in dance, it’s the instructor’s mission to teach the younger generation about dance and the history behind it.

“In addition to teaching the kids the dance itself we also teach them about the history of dance,” she said. “You will be surprised at how many people do not know Joan Myers Brown of Philadanco, Judith Jamison of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Arthur Mitchell of Dance Theatre of Harlem.

“All of these wonderful people have contributed to the art of dance,” Lewis added. “In our classes when they get a certain age we talk to the students about the history, why the terminology is in French, and [about] some of the greatest African Americans who have contributed to the dance. We don’t expect all students to become professional dancers, but it will help all of students be disciplined and help them succeed in life. Their journey in dance will help inspire their journey in life.”

For more information on Dance Journey, call (484) 461-1966 or visit www.dancejourney.net.

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