Story and photos by Joshua Maloni
Plastic trophies are nice, but the dancers participating in this year's Lewiston Kiwanis Peach Festival are working toward something even better: the maternity ward at Mount St. Mary's Hospital.
In an effort to shorten Saturday morning's Peach Festival parade, chairman Jerry Wolfgang and fellow Kiwanian Terry Nobles elected to cut out the dance competition. More than that, though, they decided it would be better to showcase the dancers Sunday afternoon in a non-competitive, fundraising format.
"They're thrilled about it," Wolfgang said. This new format "is to give the dance companies an opportunity to perform in front of family, relatives and friends, and have that good opportunity of performing on stage in front of a large group."
From noon until 3 p.m., six local dance schools will perform for about 25 minutes apiece. In between routines, the dancers will walk into the crowd with a bucket for donations. All funds will go toward the health center's youngest patients.
"It's kids giving to kids," Wolfgang said.
"What better thing to teach kids at a young age?" he asked.
Wolfgang enlisted Adell Hoover Wizner of Adell's School of Dance on Military Road to help coordinate the showcase.
"I felt it would be a great opportunity for the kids to work together for one cause," Wizner said.
With more than a half-dozen schools competing in last year's parade (at almost three minutes per team), "It kind of got time-consuming," she said.
Plus, Wizner pointed out, September is the start of classes at most dance studios. In many cases, students are just beginning to learn routines.
"We decided to do something more community-based," Wizner said. "We didn't want it to be about competition."
The previous parade format, she said, "puts too much pressure on the kids."
Now, participating dancers can walk comfortably in the parade Saturday morning and perform a routine of choice on Sunday afternoon.
Wizner said the showcase "is for a great cause" and also "a great form of advertising" for the schools involved.
Dancers, she noted, can do what they love to do without any added pressure of competing for a prize.
"It's really exciting," Wizner said.
Click to watch Adell's dancers perform
Participating dance showcase schools (tentative) and order of appearance:
•Adell's School of Dance
•Lewiston Dance Center
•Janet Dunstan's Dance Academy
•Curtain Call Academy
•The Dance Shop
•Niagara Dance Centre
Jerry Wolfgang and Terry Nobles arranged the schedule based on a blind drawing.