Kudos for Celebrate the Beat | AspenTimes.com

Kudos for Celebrate the Beat

Dear Editor:I am writing this letter to sing praises for the Celebrate the Beat program. As a mother of three boys who attend the Aspen Community School, I’m overjoyed that Tracy Strauss (from the National Dance Institute) and her program, Celebrate the Beat, are at their school for the sixth year running. This is exactly the kind of program that our children need. Celebrate the Beat (CTB) offers children the rare opportunity to work with professionals. The opportunity for anyone, let alone children, to work with truly dedicated and inspired professionals from any field is a gift because the foremost goal is excellence. Through the direction of these professionals, the children are able to work for and accomplish amazing feats.The professional dancers demand the utmost cooperation from the children – to engage their ears, their minds, their bodies without distraction or compromise. In three short weeks, the children, who are addressed as “dancers,” experience transformations – some small, some large – from breaking down barriers of self-doubt to discovering untapped abilities. By adhering to the high standard set before them, the dancers are able to perform a truly amazing show. CTB provides the stage for excellence in action. Another wonderful aspect of this project is that participation is often collective. Entire classes (in our case, the entire school) participate. Since everyone is dancing, there is no labeling. And children who otherwise never would have chosen to participate get to experience the program and usually discover that not only is dancing something they can do, but is something they really enjoy. Over the years, I’ve observed many rehearsals. The atmosphere is serious, yet joyful; demanding, yet achievable; focused, yet free. Attention is given to the smallest details, and the dancers learn that in this way only can excellence be achieved. As I watch the dancers gaining a heightened awareness of music, rhythm and of their own abilities, it is not unusual for me to have watery eyes as I revel in their contagious exuberance, unity and fluidity. Watching children uncover their own excellence can help us to discover more of our own. What a gift for all of us!On a sour note is the fact that the Aspen School District was extremely inhospitable this year. In past years, at least a few classes have participated in CTB, but this year, not only did they not welcome the program (Ms. Strauss has a waiting list of 30 to 40 schools wanting her program), but they would not allow the Aspen Community School access to the district theater unless it absolutely didn’t coincide with the school day. (They also tried to charge ACS for its use when ACS is in the district!) This created massive rehearsal challenges for the participating students. It is unfortunate that some won’t at least tolerate excellence when it is in one’s midst.A very hearty thank you to anyone who has supported this incredible program for our children.Jennifer LaneCarbondale

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