Young tap dancers, graceful ballerinas and even ‘groovy grannies’ took the stage at the Merced College Theater on Saturday for the annual Kaleidoscope Dance Performance Showcase.
The event featured dancers of all ages from local dance studios including Denisa’s School of Dance, Mariposa Academy of Performing Arts, Merced Academy of Dance, STEPS Dance Studio, Dancer’s Studio, Belly Dance Merced and South Pacific Dance Company.
With a total of 23 dance numbers, performers charmed the audience with their sharp moves and creative routines. Around 60 dancers were present for both the 2 p.m and 7 p.m. shows.
According to Denisa’s School of Dance owner Denisa Rice, Kaleidoscope – which started more than 20 years ago – allows studios in Merced, Atwater and Mariposa to display the talent of local dancers.
“We’ve got some top-notch dancers,” Rice said. “And this is the one (show) where we all come together.”
The proceeds from the show, Rice explained, go toward scholarships for dance students at Merced College. Funds are also used to help with renovations in the theater.
In preparation of Kaleidoscope, dancers put in months of practice, and hours of hair, makeup and wardrobe decisions.
Dawn Silva, a parent with Denisa’s School of Dance, said being a dance mom takes a lot of patience and organization. “It takes a lot of work – there’s a lot of practices and many late nights,” Silva said. “But it’s worth it because (the dancers) make very good friends and it keeps them involved in something they love.”
Silva said it’s also important for parents to note the quality of instruction that is available locally. “We have some really good teachers here – we don’t need to go to bigger cities,” she said.
Her daughter, Shayla Silva, 11, has been performing since she was 2 years old. Shayla said Kaleidoscope is one of her favorite shows to participate in because she gets to see the work of other studios.
Although Shayla’s been performing for years, she still gets a bit nervous minutes before she takes the stage. “I just have to tell myself to take a deep breath and have fun,” she said.
Others who didn’t have the same level of dance experience were also eager to perform. For many dancers of Belly Dance Merced, a class taught at Merced College, Kaleidoscope was their first time ever being on stage.
Michelle Pecchenino, 50, signed up for the class in the fall, never imagining she would end up performing in front of an audience. “Performing tonight is optional for us,” Pecchenino said. “I took this as a fitness course. ... Belly-dancing is an excellent workout.”
Pecchenino said her favorite thing about belly-dancing is that it doesn’t really matter what age or size people are, it’s a dance everyone can enjoy. “This shows you can start dancing at any age,” she said.
Traditional Tahitian dancing, hip-hop numbers, Bollywood performances and lyrical dancing were also part of Saturday’s shows.
The studios will perform again at the Merced College Theater for the Festival of Dance in June.
Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or email@example.com.