‘United We Dance’: Local girls host dance camp
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE-VAIL ” Two local Battle Mountain High School graduates, Sarah Thomasen,19, and Katie Denton, 18, are uniting the youth of the valley under one common passion ” dance.
Thomasen and Denton organized United We Dance, a summer dance camp for girls between the first- through eighth-grades. They spent one week at the Battle Mountain High School gymnasium jumping, turning and kicking with enthusiasm. The camp will perform a choreographed routine Wednesday at the Vail America Days 4th of July parade.
“The best part about it is the smiles on their faces” Denton says.
Throughout the week, Denton and Thomasen watched the girls grow as dancers. Despite only having seven days to teach dance technique, facial expression and flexibility, they saw rapid improvement in the young dancers.
“When they’re young, they soak up information like a sponge. They begin to create habits that are beneficial to their technique,” Thomasen says.
For Denton and Thomasen, it was a challenge to teach to all levels of dance experience. The choreography for the parade was created to cater to the girls’ tastes and was altered based off of the students’ response to the music and their ability. Denton and Thomasen chose music from the National Dance Association, where they have previously attended summer camp with the Battle Mountain Dance Team.
“The up-beat tempo will be fun for the crowd and the girls, who have to hear it about ten times that day,” Denton says.
Teaching a group of 18 girls not only how to dance, but to perform in front of people is quite a task to take on. Denton and Thomasen have shared five of their summer days to inspire young girls the way they themselves were inspired many years ago.
Thomasen says it was the loving encouragement she found at the Eagle Valley Dance Academy in Edwards from teacher Sheryl McQuaid that inspired her to teach dance.
“I hope to teach kids not only how to dance, but inspire them to love it like I do,” Thomasen says.
Both of the girls were trained in classical ballet at the academy of dance. Both Denton and Thomasen co-captained the Battle Mountain Dance Team while they were in high school. Denton led them to win the U.S Championships.
In theater, Thomasen danced in local productions of “Fame” and “Guys ‘n’ Dolls,” while Denton is also a local starlette. Over the past few years, she’s starred in s Battle Mountain High School productions of “The Whiz” and “Footloose,” as well as shows at the Vilar Center such as “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Godspell,” “You Can’t Stop the Beat” and “Evening on Broadway.”
They say it wasn’t until they started pursuing dance outside of the Vail Valley that a whole new world of dance was opened to them. When Thomasen was in the seventh grade, she commuted to Denver’s “Startstruck Academy of Dance” to work with choreographer Lisa Holtz Odell (featured on the cover of Dance Teacher Magazine, April 2004).
“She constantly motivated me to push harder than I’ve ever pushed before,” Thomasen says.
Both Denton and Thomasen took Odell’s choreography to competitions such as the L.A Dance Force (LADF), where they medaled in duets and solo performance pieces.
Denton says she too learned a lot from dance experiences outside the valley. At the L.A Dance Force competitions, she learned that there was “more passion to dance than just cheesy smiles.”
Denton will be joining Thomasen at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles, where they are both dance majors. Thomasen is auditioning for the Colorado Nuggets team this summer, but says that she also wants to explore all types of dance production, performance and choreography in the future. Denton’s dreams are to become a recording artist someday by using her acting dancing, and vocal talents as a “triple threat,” she says.
Check out their choreography and give your support to the local dancers at the 4th of July Parade in the Vail Village. It starts at 10 a.m. in Lionshead and winds its way to Golden Peak.
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