Sarah Mausolf
smausolf@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

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September 1, 2010
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Eagle County kids invited to White House

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - Luisa Taal has never met the first lady, but she has a good feeling about her.

"She looks really nice," the 11-year-old said.

Taal will get to see Michelle Obama in person Tuesday. She and fellow valley resident Colby Lange, also 11, have received an exclusive invitation to the White House to participate in a dance workshop.

The first lady is putting on the event to honor dancer Judith Jamison. She's set to retire. Jamison has served as artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years.

Obama invited the National Dance Institute, a children's dance program in New York, to bring some of its kids to the workshop. The National Dance Institute, in turn, invited Celebrate the Beat to pick a handful of students to participate in the workshop.

Taal and Lange are among just four students from Colorado who will be calling on the White House. It promises to be a rare opportunity.

"Only 80 children are attending so it's definitely intimate," Celebrate the Beat Artistic Director Tracy Straus said.

Celebrate the Beat leaders chose Taal and Lange for the event because of "their strong dedication, positive attitude, and exemplary commitment to the program," a press release said.

Both students have been involved in Celebrate the Beat since the beginning of third grade at Avon Elementary. They performed in a Beatles-themed show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in May. Lange kicked off the show with a rousing hip-hop dance.

He was in disbelief when he received the invitation to the White House.

"Once I figured out it was for sure going to happen, I just lit up," he said. "I was super excited."

Lange, who just started sixth grade at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, has never been to Washington, D.C., before.

"I'm really excited just to be in Washington, D.C., see all the sights and meet Michelle," he said.

Taal, now a sixth-grader at Berry Creek Middle School, can't wait to peek inside the White House.

"It's a once in a lifetime experience," she said.

The workshop will bring together some of the finest dancers from across the country to work with the children. The event will include a performance celebrating the best in American dance. Vail International Dance Festival Director Damien Woetzel will direct the workshop.

Celebrate the Beat serves about 1,000 students in Eagle County elementary and middle schools. Local musicians and dancers visit the schools to work with students once a week. They put on a performance at the schools at the end of the year. Through Celebrate the Beat's summer "Pop Hop" program, students in the community take a dance class every day for a week, then perform what they learned at the Vail International Dance Festival.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Sep 1, 2010 12:11AM Published Sep 1, 2010 12:05AM Copyright 2010 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.