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Dickinson dances to the movies

Burn the Floor dancers practice a hip hop routine on Tuesday in the studio for the upcoming spring recital.

By Linda Sailer

Burn the Floor Diversity in Dance will showcase the talents of its students during its annual spring recital Saturday, May 19.

"Our theme this year is "Music, Movies and Musicals' -- we have a 19-minute opening number that sets the pace for the top-selling movies over the last 20 years," owner and choreographer Nikki St. John said.

The choreography blends 13 musical clips from the movies.

"For example, 'Rocky' came before many of the dancers were born, and we were able to share the importance of Sylvester Stalone," she said. "We ordered boxing gloves as a unique use of the hands."

Her students will be dancing to the contemporary movie "Avatar." Jameson Varpness, Dickinson State University music major, will play the Avatar theme on piano.

"The students are actually learning how to dance to a live piano," she said.

The show also will feature tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip hop and ballroom. It will feature dancers from age 2 through adult.

Several numbers are performed by her elite dance teams -- those children that St. John refers to as talented and gifted.

"We changed the studio's name to Diversity in Dance because our dancers are not only very talented, but also casual recreation -- we have the whole shebang," she said.

Costuming will complement the performances. For example, the Avatar dancers will perform in one-piece unitards with their faces painted blue.

The youngest dancers like the clip from "Ghost Busters," because they can simulate ghosts with bed sheets, St. John said.

She relies on a second teacher, Debbie Jarrett to teach beginning hip hop and ballet/jazz.

Jarrett, who studied dance as a youth, joined the studio three years ago when her daughter and son were dancers.

She described the studio's dancers as filled with energy, motivation and loyalty.

"The talent is amazing -- we've got the little ones who are excellent -- by the time they get to Nikki it will be amazing to see," Jarrett said.

She described the performance as offering something for everyone -- from the little ones to the older generation.

"I'm excited for my grandma to come -- she'll love the show," she said.

St. John sees dance as a growing art in the Dickinson community.

"It's the regular hometown folks," she said. "Dance helps children with self-confidence. Children of all ages are battling bullying, but in our studio we have zero tolerance for bullying. We try to encourage children to become friends with one another. It's a safe haven to come and express themselves."

The performance starts at 7 p.m. in Trinity High School Auditorium.

Tickets for the performance may be purchased at the door or in advance at the studio, 40 First Ave. W. or the American Bank Center.