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Dance studio welcomes graceful and gifted students

by jmaloni
Sat, Oct 23rd 2010 04:00 pm
The teachers and students of `Graceful & Gifted.` (photo by Joshua Maloni)
The teachers and students of "Graceful & Gifted." (photo by Joshua Maloni)
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by Joshua Maloni

Thursday happy hour has a whole new meaning.

Just past the Town of Lewiston, in a bay down the street from a bar and a gas station on Saunders Settlement Road, you'll find young women rocking to the music of Justin Bieber, Missy Elliott and Kelly Clarkson each Thursday night. But, unlike other people their age out at that time and listening to those musicians, these girls aren't buzzed on alcohol. Rather, they're high on dance -- training with different steps, laughing, and learning how to overcome their shyness.

Each week at 6:30 p.m., Time to Dance offers "Graceful & Gifted," a program for individuals with special needs. Susan Farley-Akin's award-winning studio serves as a place for these women to practice coming out of their shells, so to speak, leave the care and worry of the world behind, and just plain have fun.

"It's really cool; it's really awesome," says student Venessa O'Connor, who studies ballet and hip-hop. "You can be yourself here."

Dancers practice under the guidance of Akin and her two instructors, former Peach Queen Charmese O'Callaghan and Lewiston resident Maureen "Moe" Brett. They learn new techniques, work on routines for area talent competitions, and sometimes even engage in a "battling circle."

O'Connor says all three instructors "are wonderful teachers. They're very understanding."

"I love it here," adds student Juanita O'Harrow.

Time to Dance offers classes for ambulatory and non-ambulatory individuals ages 3 and up. Both day and evening courses are available, and include different forms of dance.

For the "Graceful & Gifted" teachers, their work is far from a "labor" of love. O'Callaghan, who led a recent "battling circle" dance-off, admits, "I'm having more fun than they are."

"It makes me feel at peace and very happy with what they get out of it," she says.

For more information on Time to Dance programs, call 946-7909 or visit the studio at 5000 Saunders Settlement Road, bay No. 3.

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