For the first time in 10 years, many of our dancers will not be participating in a Spring Recital. This would have been our second recital since moving to our new location at 118 E. Jones St. Instead of preparing for this annual event, we have instead, due to COVID-19, turned our focus to online learning and have decided to postpone our recital until a time when we can all come together and truly focus on the spirt of recital, unity. Recital is meant to bring our students together and it just didn't feel right to do that in separate spaces. We are so glad that we have had AIDAvision to keep us together during this time, but we will be delighted when we can share space once again. In the meantime, we can celebrate the work our students, staff and family put into recital preparations each year.
While our dancers have multiple performing opportunities throughout the year, from outreach events to special performance opportunities like our Winter Showcase, "The Littlest Angel Ballet" and HS Cultural Center's "Project Dance", our Spring Recital is the one event that truly unifies the entire studio. Our three programs, Children's Program, Youth/Young Adult Program and Adults come together to present a theme based performance that allows students to showcase their skills and talents in ballet, jazz, tap and more alongside their peers from throughout the studio. Students share costumes to keep costs affordable for everyone, to keep a steady stock of costumes for our multiple events throughout the year, and to prevent home closets from being filled with costumes never to be worn again. We've never been more glad of this practice than we are this year. Our costumes will await us until next season, knowing that no-one will outgrow their costume before they get a chance to wear it.
This year we were also excited to welcome our GROOVEWORKS program to the stage. GROOVEWORKS is part of our AIDA Community Arts Program and features high energy fusion of rhythm and hip-hop inspired dance designed to be enjoyed by students of all levels and abilities. The dancers were excited to join the fun and we were thrilled to include our special guests, adults from GiGi's Playhouse Raleigh. GiGi's Playhouse is a Down syndrome achievement center and we have loved providing bi-weekly and monthly programs to their teens and tweens through the season. We were just getting ready to begin weekly classes with their adults and have them take part in this season's recital. We also offer GROOVEWORKS as an after-school club at Thales Academy.
In addition to being a unifying event for our students, it is also an opportunity for friends and families to come together to celebrate the hard work of these talented kids and adults. Families travel from all over to support their favorite dancer. We've even had recital dances Skyped world-wide! Our families are an important part of recital day and we strive to ensure that everyone gets a seat to the show. We opt out of fancy venues that demand high ticket prices and instead choose a local facility that has plenty of seating for students and families. It is also important to us that our young dancers get a chance to watch the show and see what their older peers are learning. It gives everyone a chance to remember their beginnings while also seeing what lies ahead for them in their training. We are careful to choose a venue that allows our students to sit in on the performance instead of being tucked away in a side room. This also allows our very important volunteers to see the show and not worry about missing out on a siblings time on stage.
While the kids are a huge hit on recital day, our senior tappers have been wowing the audience for going on 4 years now. Taking part in outreach events, online contests, volunteering at the studio and more, these ladies, along with their peers, have been the highlight of our performances. Not everyone who takes the classes perform, but they are always there, in the audience, cheering their classmates and the younger dancers on. They are such an inspiration to us all! I personally have gained so much from having them as part of AIDA.
Recital is fun, but it can also be a scary time. For some this is their first time on stage. We are so thankful for our class assistants who work hard to inspire their younger peers each week and while on stage. In addition to their own classes, they are also committed to helping their young friends succeed. Whether it's taking part in special outreach events for our Children's Program (such as nursing home performances) they also make time in their own busy recital day to support and encourage students. Our show wouldn't be the same without them!
Recital is also a time that we celebrate our dancers and staff. This year we would have celebrated welcoming two amazing new teachers to the AIDA team. Last summer we welcomed Meredith Davidheiser as our Studio Development Coordinator and Instructor. She has been an amazing asset to AIDA helping to build our boutique, working behind the scenes to keep our office running smoothly and has been loved by students and families in our toddler and preschool classes. She brings a gentle, loving spirit that pairs well with her background in psychology and experience in motherhood. She has provided unending support as AIDA has grown throughout the year. We are excited for her to rejoin us in the coming season. I am saddened that her first spring recital has been delayed but we know from the amazing job her students did in our Winter Showcase, they were sure to be incredible!
This year we also welcomed this young woman, Ms. Caitlyn Kell, to our staff. Caitlyn has transformed since joining us as a shy timid kid. She has become an inspiration to her peers not only for her sweet spirit and encouragement, but they have watched her overcome tremendous health battles. She hasn't missed an opportunity to continue learning and has been committed to attending classes and events. Working hard from the sidelines and absorbing everything she can to be successful despite setbacks. We knew without a doubt she was the right person for our new position as Studio Support Assistant. Families welcomed her on Friday mornings as she became a substitute teacher and provided support in the office. In addition to continuing to encourage her students with online videos, she is also working hard to complete her certification as a RhythmWorks Integrative Dance Certified Assistant. RWID instructors are trained to provide fun and functional dance movement for students of all learning needs. We are so proud of her hard work and look forward to seeing her grow further as a student and instructor at AIDA.
We also couldn't keep Wednesday nights at AIDA running smoothly without this woman, Ms. Anita Bolz. From office support, to bathroom help, tying shoes and sharing her wisdom, we have been so grateful for the support she offers as a volunteer and as one of our Sassy Senior Tappers. We are so thankful for you Ms. Anita!
Without our class assistants, we wouldn't make it from week to week. All of these ladies play an important role in the development and training of the students they work with. From L-R Top Row: Makenna Tysinger, Katie Shauger, Caitlyn Kell Bottom Row L-R: Avery Holste, Caitlin Cecich, Lily Waldron. The influence of all of these young ladies has made an impact on the life of every student in their classes. We are so thankful to them and their parents for their commitment and dedication. For most it means adding a day to their already busy schedules and we appreciate you so much!
Recital is also a time for me to thank my children, Camden and Dylan, and Anthony DiMarzio. Often unseen, their behind the scenes support has meant so much over the years. From long evenings, weekend events, stressful moments and tears, they encourage, inspire and comfort me year after year. Camden and Dylan are often found at the studio cleaning, sorting costumes, doing inventory and much more. Recital weekends find them acting as tech crew running sound and moving props. Anthony provides support on a multitude of levels, but as our acting Marketing/Technical Coordinator as well as President of Inspired Kids, he's often seen climbing ladders, painting, and working hard to produce and edit photos/videos. Their daily support allows me to do what I love and I am so blessed to have them in my life.
This will be the first time since I began dancing as a child that I will not be part of a recital or end of year performance. In my almost 25 years as a professional, I have never missed a recital. Its surreal that this year we won't have this moment, but our pride for the dancers in our 2019-2020 season is no less. We have watched these dancers grow from shy timid students to leaders. Our class assistants have stepped up once again and alongside our instructors, have developed a cast of students that would have made their families proud. We normally end our season with class parties and say goodbye until we meet again. For some it's during summer classes/camps and for some it is at the return of the next season. But for all of us, we feel accomplished and proud of what has transpired. Eager to do it again. And so, until the stage calls to us once more, we say farewell to another season and await a summer of fun with open arms. While this will look different from years past, we are eager to return to our studio home and our friends with joy and a thankful heart for all of the support during this time. AIDAvision has kept us together. We continued to "Dance On, Dream On" despite the world coming to a pause. Disappointed to miss out on recital, our students will still enjoy some of our end of season fun. T-shirts, a video, group project, a "party" and a "6 ft. apart but close at heart" kick-off to our summer programs. See you soon! Inspirationally yours,