Never give up. That was the core message of the dance workshop put on by Coast 2 Coast: Dance Across America, Inc. to promote National Dance Week, Friday at Consuming Fire School of Dance in downtown Chadron.
Coast 2 Coast was founded by Jimmy Lyles, disc jockey owner of Jimmy Lyles Productions, Louie Perez, owner of VP Dance Academy in New York, and Ryan Dutcher, owner of RD Illusionist. All three men found a way to make it on their own in New York City, and used the dance workshop to pass that information on.
There were 10 dance students and two dance instructors who participated in the workshop, learning a short dance in 45 minutes. The goal of the workshop was less about the dance that was learned and more about teaching the young girls to never give up on their aspirations and teaching them a little bit about the different ways they could succeed in the dance world.
“The same thing that we’re going to teach to the kids tonight, they teach here,” Lyles said before the workshop started. “I know they teach it here because it is the same thing that every dance studio tries to teach: how to make the kids better adults when they get there. But hearing it from the three of us, that little extra push, you know we are three guys, and dance isn’t really a guy dominated type of thing. But we’re three guys from the dance world that are trying to prove to these kids that there are three different ways that you can make it and it all comes full circle in the end.”
Perez, who is originally from Cuba, was very interactive with the dance students. He talked to them before the workshop, bringing smiles to all of the girls’ faces. He was upbeat, and put every ounce of his energy into his dancing. The girls saw this, and their own energy was magnified as they followed his suit.
“I fell in love with dance when I was in sixth grade,” Perez said. “I was in this little production of Annie and after that I said ‘that’s it, this is the life for me. I have to sing, I have to dance, I’ve got to act, I’ve got to do everything.’”
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Perez’s love for dance started at a young age, but it was easy to see that his passion has not died down. He loves dance not only for the dancing, but also for the teaching opportunities it provides.
“My favorite part of this is seeing how motivated the kids get after class and seeing different faces and seeing the future of tomorrow,” Perez said. “I love seeing people that are going to change the world. Because every time I see a group of kids I always feel like someone in this room is going to change the world. That is the exciting part.”
The Coast 2 Coast workshop was started three years ago because the men wanted to give something back to the dance community and do something big to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the dance studio in New York.
The workshop is free to all of the students because when Perez was just getting started with dance, there came a time when he could not afford dance lessons anymore. Debbie Reynolds, who owned the studio, let Perez take lessons for free in exchange for Perez cleaning the studio every night.
Perez noted that he would not be where he is now if it weren’t for the helping hand that he received, and it is his mission to pass this on and pay it forward.
After the girls put music to their dance and practiced a few times, the workshop was finished. They ended by taking group pictures, and even a selfie with Perez.