Hop 'til you drop

Hagerstown youths get set for dance contest

Hagerstown youths get set for dance contest

July 28, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Rain poured down during a recent practice, but a group of about 20 children bounced into headstands, freestyle dance and back flips in the courtyard of North Springs apartments as a Caribbean, reggae, hip-hop music mix blared from a portable compact disc player.

It's the last HoodHop practice before the neighborhood dance-off, and they have to practice their routine 20 times, said Anna Shetler, their dance instructor.

About 80 local children have been practicing their dance moves for seven weeks this summer, leading up to a final dance competition on Saturday.

Children from the Fairgrounds area, Wheaton Park and North Springs participate in HoodHop, created and managed by Shetler, 19. The neighborhoods will battle each other in a dance-off. Each of the six dance teams has about 15 children.


"I want to win," said Tyler Stubbs, 9. "If we don't, I'll be mad."

During this practice, Tyler is in a row of five boys at the front of the dance group. Two columns of girls perform their choreographed moves on either side of the boys.

Kiarra Jackson, 9, said she has been dancing in her house her whole life. She said she likes HoodHop "because it's better than (dancing) in the shower."

Shetler dreamed up HoodHop after creating the dance program "Noise" in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club.

Several of the HoodHop dancers were in "Noise," and traveled to the Apollo Theater in New York City to compete in a dance competition.

Michelle Velez, 10, danced at the Apollo with "Noise," and called the experience "crazy."

"We cried after we did it," she said.

Shetler said she hoped HoodHop helped children keep busy this summer.

"I love teaching dance to them," Shetler said. "They're good kids. It gives them something productive to do. They're out of trouble for one hour a week."

Shetler trained in hip-hop dance and jazz for six years. She now teaches dance in Hagerstown, and studies education at the University of Maryland in College Park.

She eventually wants to buy the old armory on Potomac Street and turn it into a dance center, Shetler said.

Local dance teachers and choreographers volunteered to judge Saturday's dance-off. The Olympia Trophy Company donated trophies, and Accent Imaging donated ribbons for the HoodHop victors.

If you go

What: HoodHop

When: Saturday, 4 p.m.

Where: Doubs Woods Park

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