“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” could be the motto of the Palmetto Dancers, an organized dance team for teens and tweens.
This energetic group is headed by Sue Stanny, the former owner of a dance school in Pittsburgh, Pa., who has brought her talents to the Lowcountry. Sue said that she started the group because she wanted to offer Beaufort parents “an affordable alternative to traditional dance schools.” She was able to do that by using ARTworks, a community arts center, as the home and practice space of the group, which has allowed her to keep costs low — a $25 registration fee and a $20 monthly fee.
Carol Doe, the mother of two Palmetto Dancers, says that cost was a big factor in her decision to enroll her daughters in the group, but now she sees other benefits.“I can see them working together better, even at home. Her daughters, however, have other reasons for participating. Jamila, a shy girl with beautifully braided hair says, “I like to do spins” and her older sister, J’Lyn” interrupts “and high kicks! Those are fun!”
Another unique aspect of the Palmetto Dancers is that they are not a competitive group. They don’t require a closet full of fancy costumes or traveling to regional meets. “This is dance for the sake of fun and learning to work as a group”, says Sue. “Working toward a performance is important, so we look for opportunities to perform in local parades and festivals and we expect a long-term commitment, so that the group can perfect their routines.”
On a recent Thursday night, the Palmetto Dancers were practicing a jazz and hip hop dance routine to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”. Music blared from a portable stereo on the side of the stage as the girls tirelessly twirled, kicked and posed to the beat.
As the group continues to grow and learn, Sue says that she plans to incorporate more techniques and props such as baton twirling and pom poms. “I wanted to start with the basics and then work up from there. Ultimately, we will divide up into different age groups and skill levels. That’s why we’re having the open houses, to show what we do and sign up new members.”
For now, though, the girls onstage in their matching pink T-shirts seem happy practicing and perfecting their dance moves, with only the occasional misstep or burst of giggles.
The Open Houses will be August 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. and August 23 from noon to 2 p.m. at ARTworks, 2127 Boundary Street in Beaufort Town Center; the dancers accept girls ages 4 – 18. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-379-2787.