Local kids set to sizzle in Celebrate the Beat | VailDaily.com

Local kids set to sizzle in Celebrate the Beat

Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

Tracy Straus and a handful of Celebrate The Beat dance instructors have the undivided attention of 120 kids, which explains why they speak clearly and succinctly. You don't have their attention for long.

Friday night, 120 Celebrate the Beat kids are the opening act for Vail's International Dance Festival.

Watching them you understand that Ron "Prime Tyme" Myles started like this. In fact, Myles will be surrounded by Celebraters when they take center stage in the Ford Amphitheater.

"What you're about to experience will blow your mind," said Tracy Straus.

Crispy Fingers

At Thursday's rehearsal, one kid was wearing a T-shirt reading, "Don't forget to be awesome!" These kids don't need to be reminded. They just are.

They exude enough energy to power a medium-sized industrial nation.

They also have "crispy fingers." If you're a dancer, that's a good thing. Hayden is the Crispy Finger Kid, even with his broken arm.

They learn all kinds of wonderful stuff, such as never give up. Ever.

"If you make a hoo hoo, keep going," Straus said.

It's pretty amazing that they can get 120 kids doing the same thing at the same time. It's even more amazing that they can get 120 kids to stop doing it and be quiet just by rhythmically clapping their hands.

The real miracle, though, is that 120 kids are working together and there's not a single cell phone in sight.

"They love what they're doing," Straus said.

If the kids' massive smiles are any indication, and they are, she's correct.

"Hard work pays off"

Celebrate the Beat instructors love being on stage, and they make the kids love it too.

CTB lessons teach the stuff you want kids to learn.

There's a sense of tenacity, of "stick-to-itiveness" that tends to be missing in so much of our instant-gratification world.

"Hard work pays off," Straus said. "They learn, 'I will succeed." They can use that to excel in every aspect of their lives."

They also learn a little about how to compartmentalize.

"If they're having a bad day, they learn to leave it outside when they walk through those doors, to put everything else out of their minds," Straus said.

Every kid can do it, Straus said.

"We never give up on them," she said.

Kids rotate from back to front during different rehearsals, so every kid gets to be in charge. They carry that back into their classrooms with the attitude that if they can be in charge of dozens of dancers, they can assert themselves in a classrooms.

"Classroom teachers constantly tell us about quiet shy students who emerge as leaders," Straus said.

Nine years, thousands of kids

Celebrate the Beat showed up here nine years ago when the Aspen/ Santa Fe Ballet hired Straus to launch an outreach program in Colorado's underserved schools. When it comes to the arts that was most Colorado schools.

Straus is the former Associate Artistic Director of the National Dance Institute in New York City.

They started with 120 Roaring Fork Valley kids in five schools. They're up to 4,000 kids in 25 U.S. schools, and seven Mexico schools.

Celebrate the Beat classes are in schools throughout the day.

"That reinforces that the arts are as important as any other subject," Straus said.

It's for kids ages 5-12 from both of your major genders, who are taught by professional instructors.

Colleen MacComber runs the Mexico program. That means she teaches kids to dance in Colorado and Nayarit, Mexico where, if MacComber's T-shirt is correct, it's called "Celebrando el Ritmo."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.