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Dance Off

Dancing Stars of Humboldt returns



On Saturday, 21 dance groups and soloists will hit the stage at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts, each hoping to take home prize money to further their goals in professional dance.

Dancing Stars of Humboldt will give the audience a vibrant spectrum of dance, from Irish step to ballet to hip-hop. Modern, jazz, tap and belly dancers will add to the mix, as well as traditional dances from Ethiopia and Québec.

Last year the show sold out the Arkley Center. Co-producers Melissa Hinz, a dance teacher and choreographer, and Rima Greer, a choreographer, costume designer and talent agent, are looking forward to a repeat of that success with the rich variety of local performers. They've also added to their roster a trio of executive producers: Shoshanna of Redwood Raks World Dance Studios and director of Ya Habibi Belly Dance, Debbie Weist of Dance with Debbie, and Kevin Sharkey, owner of Threadbare Dancewear. Humboldt residents are constantly reminded of what is lacking in rural communities, from Internet access to sufficient health services. But we do have talented performers in an energetic dance community. "The goal," Hinz explains, "is to give the dancers and audience as professional an experience as possible."

"People often see dance performances as recitals," Hinz says. Recitals are mostly geared for parents of young dance students, displaying the progress of a performer. Dancing Stars, however, is a show for the entertainment of the audience. It also has to appeal to people who wouldn't sit through a whole evening of one kind of dance.

The show is also an opportunity for local dancers to see the business end of professional dancing. Hinz, who has worked in dance and musical theater in New York and Chicago, explains that some dancers become passionate and say, "I want to be a dancer," without knowing what that means. It means going through steps, including developing choreographies, perfecting technique and, ultimately, passing auditions. The January auditions for Dancing Stars of Humboldt had more than 30 applicants vying for a place on the program.

Auditions a part of dance life. They often aren't pleasant — certainly not the rejection. But rejection isn't personal. "I've been to hundreds of auditions. I've known very few audition judges who were mean. Mostly, they're just focused on their production. You may have talent but you may not be a good fit for the upcoming show," Hinz says. And that's something dancers need to understand.

This year, the dancers will also be competing for a cash prize. According to the press release, there'll be an Audience Choice award for one dancer — a scholarship to help advance his or her pursuit of the art.

On Monday, Greer shared the long list of performers host James Gadd will introduce: Academy of Irish Dance, HSU's Jazz Dancers, No Limits Jazz, Dance with Debbie, Melissa Hinz and Ty Vizenor, Harmony Sorter, Stephanie Carter, Jenica Palmer, Rebecca Nugent, Shoshanna and Ya Habibi Belly Dance, Isabella Buckman, No Limits Tap, 555 Contemporary Dance, Marina Lopez and HSU's Demolishon Hip Hop. There'll also be two groups assembling just for the show, with Rose Myers, Raven Arnold, Morgan Hartlien-Allen, Harmony Sorter, Melissa Hinz and Hollie McGovern in one, and Jonny Wisan, Lisa Drew, Lily Ryman, Rebecca Nugent, Morgan Hartlein-Allain, Emma Radley and Gina Grebe in the other.

Dancing Stars of Humboldt is at the Arkley Center for one night only, Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. ($15). Call 442-1956 or visit

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