Dance shows highlight local talent

The art of dancing relies on discipline, creativity and the kind of pure passion that drives someone to devote so much of their time to perfecting those intricate moves when others might opt for something easier and more immediately gratifying. Two area dance studios will showcase how that hard work pays off performances Thursday through Saturday.

That dedication inspired Institute for Dance Studio director Kathy Palmo to ask her students why exactly they loved to dance.

“It’s kind of the age-old question,” she said. “They all answered that question this year. They wanted to share.”

The institute’s latest show, “For the Love of Dance,” developed from there. During the show, the students — who range in age from 3-18 — will reveal their answers, from the desire to express oneself to reveling in the social aspect.

Palmo shared dancer Jane Cadwell’s answer: “She loves to dance because it can change a bad day into a good day.”

The show features 56 dance numbers. The studio’s teachers used their varied backgrounds to envision their own routines spanning all the major dance styles, including ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop. A kickline will kick off the show.

The dancers began learning their parts in March. Advanced students dedicate 16-plus hours a week to classes, not counting rehearsal time.

“They are here because they love it and they want to share it,” said Melissa Cantrell, board president. She said the dancers learn the value of self confidence, teamwork and commitment along the way, even if they ultimately decide to pursue other interests.

It all culminates with taking the stage in front of 400 people and the thrill that comes with it.

“That’s where you get your gratification from, hearing that feedback, hearing that applause,” Palmo said. “It’s their Super Bowl.”

Off to Neverland

With “Pan and Tink: The Dansical,” Dance Works reimagines the adventures of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and company. It’s the third production in a series inspired by owner Emma Mead’s favorite childhood books, with stories she hopes will inspire others.

“We create and expand on the storyline to make it our own,” said Mead, known as Miss Emma to her students.

The classic nature of “Peter Pan” makes it accessible for the parents and grandparents in the audience, as well as the children. Mead and her dancers created new characters and streamlined certain storylines as they worked to convey the plot largely through movement.

Each of the studio’s 250 dancers plays a role in at least one of the production’s four performances. The show incorporates ballet, acrobatics, hip-hop, jazz and other dance styles to help bring the story to life.

“We use all the different genres of dances mixed together with lots of different, fun music, and then connect it to the storyline in a magical way,” Mead said. “It’s lots of fun, for sure.”

The production marks Dance Works’ first performance at the Kimball Theatre. Mead hopes the audience will revel in the joy radiating from the dancers on stage, perhaps even inspiring some new dancers as well, as the story reminds us all of the value of childhood wonder.

“I want to inspire the dancers to never grow up and continue to think through the eyes of children and enjoy the magical side of life,” Mead said.

Want to go?

“For the Love of Dance” runs 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday at Crosswalk Church, 7575 Richmond Road. Tickets are $15, available at

“Pan and Tink: The Dansical” runs 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday at the Kimball Theatre. $20 at the door.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by email at, by phone at 757-790-3029 or on Twitter @sethbirkenmeyer.

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette