UDT hosts dance clinic for kids
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Western Illinois University’s University Dance Theatre (UDT) gave children ranging from first through twelfth grade a chance to learn and show off their dance moves at a one-day dance clinic Saturday.
“This program is to get kids from all over the community together and learn about University Dance Theatre,” said dance instructor Diana Defelice-Pirro. “This clinic is easily accessible to most people, it’s only one day and lasts from midmorning to the afternoon.”
The one-day program’s theme was “A Day of Magic,” allowing children to learn and dance along with student dancers from Western’s UDT. It was open for children from the surrounding schools in the Macomb district.
Co-event organizer Dawn Tonkinson said she has been very excited about this event and hopes the kids get as much out of it as the dancers do.
“A big part of this program is building a bond not only with the kids but with the community,” Tonkinson said. “This clinic can help the kids look up to someone and have a role model. A lot of these kids are an only child, and for them to be able to come and interact with college or dancers helps them grow as individuals.”
Angela Carlson, a mother of a four-year old repeating participant agreed and said that this has opened her daughter’s eyes to not only dance but college as well.
“This is my daughter’s fourth time attending the clinic and she really enjoys it,” said Carlson. “Dancewise, the program has given her a new perspective in seeing what comes after high school if she chooses to continue dancing. Also, her interacting with the college students has got her thinking about college and her future.”
Associate professor and codirector of University Dance Theatre Heidi Clemmens said the clinic is a learning event for everyone involved in the clinic.
“The clinic is not only beneficial to the kids, but is also a great learning experience for the college students,” said Clemmens. “Our students get the opportunity to get some hands-on experience teaching children, organizing an event and interacting with kids.”
It was a three-hour event, and before it ended, the children had the chance to put all of their new dancing skills to the test and perform in front of their parents.
UDT is a professional company made up of students and professors. Members are required to practice and have the opportunity to perform in up to five dances per semester. UDT members perform in the Homecoming Parade in the fall and also during Greek week in the Spring.
“UDT is Western’s official professional company,” said Defelice-Pirro. “We are required to train twice a week and a level two or three dance class. We also have casting auditions where professors choose whether they want to have you in their dance. We perform in Hainline theatre and we also perform in other events such as the variety show during homecoming, as well as Greek week.”