In May 2015, Val Jones, a local professional dancer and choreographer, began teaching tap classes at the Bravo Theatre to help dancers prepare for try-outs for the upcoming Lakeside Little Theatre show “Stepping Out.”
These classes grew, with more dance enthusiasts joining for the fun and exercise of tapping. Jones then brought her maid’s 10-year-old granddaughter and 9-year-old grandson into the classesthat were comprised mostly of older, English-speaking women.
Unfortunately, the music the young children liked did not match that of the women dancers. And then there was the language problem – these children were Spanish speakers, while most of the women were not.
Two years ago, D’Le Beatty-Tobias, another local dancer, created a special class for these children, in Spanish and with music geared to their tastes.
The children brought their friends and the class grew. Now, the class consists of seven girls and two boys, age 9 to 17, including two who come in from Guadalajara each Saturday morning for their class. The children receive financial assistance, with their shoes and performance costumes provided by the dancers in the adult classes, and Beatty-Tobias teaching for free.
The Saturday morning class has now grown to two classes: beginner and intermediate. The original two young tappers (now age 13 and 12) assume leadership and mentoring roles with the younger children.
The children are given rules that must be followed. They must attend four classes in a row before “earning” their tap shoes. These shoes are expensive, costing up to 1,400 pesos a pair, so, the children demonstrating they are serious is important. If children miss three classes without an excuse they are out.
Beatty-Tobias says the children have gained much confidence from attending these classes – opening their eyes to the possibilities in their lives they never had seen before.
The sponsorship goes beyond providing shoes and costumes for the children’s shows. They attend cultural events and see more of the outside the world. Recently, they have been taken to the Jalisco Ballet gala and the Hernandez School of Ballet performances.
This project is about giving back to step ahead: the adults giving to these children and the community, while the children learn to accomplish more than they thought possible, grasping the fact that nothing is free, and that they have to work to get what they want in life.
The children tappers would love to have you come and see them perform in the Lip Sync 11 shows scheduled January 18, 4 p.m., January 19, 6 p.m. and January 20, 2 p.m. at the Auditorio de la Ribera in Ajijic. They have been rehearsing for many months.
This show is a benefit with all proceeds going toward the remodeling of the Auditorio de la Ribera.