By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – Students at the North Mississippi Dance Centre are dancing for a good cause.
The students are participating in Hope for the Holidays, a danceathon and performance to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“We had a sign-up sheet out there, and we had 82 kids sign up,” said the dance studio’s Beth Richardson. “It’s all about teamwork: The choreographers picked their teams, the parents are very involved making costumes, the children are getting sponsors.”
All of the work going into the benefit is not a part of the dancers’ or choreographers’ regular classes.
The dancers are taking extra classes on Sunday afternoons, and the choreographers and teachers have donated their time creating new dances and teaching classes.
“Most of them are dancing to holiday songs or traditional Christmas music. It’s really been a lot of fun,” Richardson said. The dance styles range from ballet to hip-hop to jazz.
The students are busy getting sponsors. Some have created websites or Facebook pages where folks can donate, or they have family members sponsoring them for each hour of dance practice and performance they complete, Richardson said. One dancer has had a bake sale to raise extra cash for the hospital, too.
Dancers are also on teams, like Angels 4 Hope, Rockin’ Rudys, Team Anna-Hannah, The Drummer Girls, Roxie’s Rockettes and Roxie’s Mod Squad.
Those who want to donate can give to a specific dancer, a team, a choreographer or to the cause as a whole. Every dollar donated, Richardson said, goes straight to St. Jude.
The donations – both in terms of money and time – have been overwhelming, she said. Tupelo Community Theatre donated The Lyric for the final performance, and parents are busy working on costumes.
“Our goal is $7,500; we already have $3,000,” she said.
One of the North Mississippi Dance Centre dancers, 10-year-old Anne Reagan Sanders, knows first hand the importance of St. Jude.
She was a patient there from 2004-2007, fighting leukemia.
“We go back every year for check-ups,” said her mother, Brandi Sanders. “That’s why we want to give back. The hospital is so kid-friendly. It’s geared toward kids first.”
Anne Reagan is one of Roxie’s Rockettes.
“We’re dancing to a jazzy Christmas song,” she said. “It’s really fun.”
Richardson said she looks forward to raising more money for St. Jude and showing off what the students have learned.
“Any time you can work for a greater cause, you’re blessed,” she said. “We’ve been experiencing these generous hearts working together, and it’s just amazing.”
• What: North Mississippi Dance Centre’s Hope for the Holidays performance
• When: 3 p.m. Dec. 15
• Where: The Lyric, Tupelo
• Cost: Free
• Info: (662) 680-9041
• Extra: Donations will be accepted at the performance, too. One of the dance groups, the Rockin’ Rudies, will perform at The Mall at Barnes Crossing at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8, and donations can be made there