Young Dancers Bustin’ Moves At Moline Studio

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Courtesy of The Dispatch
Photo By John Greenwood/The Dispatch

Gabriela Victoria started dancing when she about 5 years old, at parties, weddings, where ever there was music.
Several years ago she took a CD to the Moline Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley to practice the latest moves.

“We were trying to have fun, trying to learn something new,” she said.
Interest ignited among other young people, and dancing became one of the organization’s most popular activities.

Now 21 years old and a staff member, and because of Ms. Victoria’s efforts, the dance/performance studio at the club is named for her. And dancing has become a hot summer indoor activity that some Moline young people can’t seem to get enough of.

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From headspins and windmills of break dancing to the rhythmic contortions of hip hop, the Moline location is a popular spot for youths 6 – 18 years old to learn and practice the latest dance moves.
Ms. Victoria, one of the dance teachers, loves seeing their faces.

“They accomplish something they didn’t think they could accomplish,” she said.
“They are learning, creating all on their own,” said Carol Murphy, operations manager. “It’s a wonderful way for kids getting to express themselves. They are learning new moves, new steps, then we look for places we can go perform.”

At the beginning, Ms. Murphy was amazed at the moves and skills the young people demonstrated.
“The kids were coming in, twisting, doing windmills and things,” Ms. Murphy said. “I asked them who taught them these things.”

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She learned they were teaching themselves at home and in the streets. She saw dance as a way to get them interested in the organization, while also keeping them physically active.
On any given afternoon, 25 to 50 young people in three different groups will be dancing. There’s also a group of older young people who perform at community events.

Staff member Jesus Cruz, 18, who also teaches dance, enjoys demonstrating new techniques.
“Once they are done with a routine, they feel like they have accomplished something,” he said.
The facility has a portable dance floor with mirrored walls, railings and other studio items soon to be installed. There also are turntables available for young people to learn how to disc jockey, “scratch” and “spin.” A recording space is also planned.

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Dance is another way, Ms. Murphy said, to keep young people off the streets and out of gangs.
“It gives them a purpose and a drive,” she said. “They can’t wait to get in there and work on their routines.”

Antonio Varela, 16, dances with the performing group and is considering a career in entertainment.
“I like the feeling — how people look at you, clap for you — and it gives me this adrenalin rush,” he said. “(It’s) the thrill of performing. The way I feel when I’m dancing, I feel I can do anything.”

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