Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Celebrate the Beat honors local kids |

Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Celebrate the Beat honors local kids

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I don’t think you can be sad and dance at the same time. I witnessed this as I watched youngsters from around Eagle County practice at the Avon Elementary School prior to their performance at the Vail International Dance Festival.

These kids exude happiness and joy with every step and their energy is contagious. I had a smile a mile wide while watching them dance their little hearts out.

Celebrate the Beat is responsible for those smiles. Tracy Straus and her team work countless hours for many weeks to get the kids ready for the big show. This group has traditionally been the opening act in the Vail International Evenings of Dance I, and they have the privilege of performing on the same stage as world-class dance stars.

Celebrate the Beat has been part of the Dance Festival for almost a decade and has impacted kids from all over the world in such positive ways. Celebrate the Beat has had a huge impact on the youth in the valley.

Vail International Dance Festival Artistic Director Damian Woetzel and his wife, Heather Watts, are responsible for bringing Celebrate the Beat to the area. Watts proposed the idea and Woetzel brought it to the Vail Valley Foundation and in no time at all the VVF said “yes.” Celebrate the Beat fits in perfectly with the VVF’s educational programs in how it helps kids succeed through the arts.

The mission of Celebrate the Beat sums it up nicely: “To provide the highest quality in-school and after-school dance programs for all children that will improve their physical health and well-being, inspire them to believe in themselves and establish a standard of excellence that impacts all aspects of their lives.”

Confidence, courage, pride and energy … those are just a few of the words kids have used to describe how Celebrate the Beat makes them feel. It helps kids develop a sense of admiration for the arts as well as an affinity for physical activity.

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