Feet stomping, hands clapping, bodies swaying to the music, the dancers worked on getting their routine down Friday afternoon in the rehearsal room.
That’s not unusual to see in Styles Dance Centre, 1501 Main, but for these students, it wasn’t an everyday occurrence.
About 27 individuals served by Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas joined with students of the dance studio to practice for the second Dancing Together for DSNWK.
The show will feature the 99 members of Styles Dance Centre performing competition pieces. For the finale, DSNWK individuals will take the stage to perform a routine to “The Greatest Show,” from the film “The Greatest Showman.”
“I always look for something that is more of a joyful song and truly builds inspiration within all of my dancers,” said Alyssa Dechant, owner of Styles Dance Centre.
While not many of the dancers said they had seen the musical about P.T. Barnum, they quickly picked up the spirit of the upbeat song, cheering as they got through each segment of the routine and eager to get to the next.
The program was started last year by Macey Pfeifer, an employee at the dance center, as part of a Fort Hays State University Field Work in Leadership Studies class — often called Leadership 310 for short from its course number.
After last year’s show, many of those in the dance were immediately asking when they could do it again, said Sara Biggs, individual services coordinator with DSNWK.
“We’ve had a lot more interest this year from community members, DSNWK families and Styles Dance Centre. It’s grown tremendously from last year,” she said.
Last year’s show raised $2,000, which DSNWK used for a fun day for both children and adults in its service.
A team of three Leadership 310 students — Raenee Patterson, Chloe Brown and Kerby Kelly — took on the challenge of improving upon last year’s success.
“They wanted to make it a bigger event,” Patterson said. “Styles wanted to raise as much money for DSNWK as they could because they know it’s kind of overlooked sometimes if you don’t have someone with special needs in your family.”
Patterson said she has a cousin with Down Syndrome and has seen what DSNWK does for people in her hometown of Norton.
“Things like this are what help them stay funded and let them do cool activities,” she said.
The Leadership 310 team has gotten local sponsorships for the event and donations for a silent auction that will precede the show. A group of parents has also gotten donations for a meal for all the dancers the day of the show.
Dechant said the show is a way for her students to give back the community.
“I just think my students here are so fortunate to be able to get to do this,” she said of learning at her studio. “I just wanted them to be able to realize that and be able to give back to those that may not get to do this every day.”
Biggs said it’s opened new doors in the community for DSNWK.
“Some of the families might not have any direct contact with someone with a disability,” Biggs said. “It’s a great opportunity to mix the young generation with our population. It’s been enjoyable to see those friendships grow.”