Weekend of iDance
WORTHINGTON -- Over the past 16 years, Kay Williams Prunty has kept up with the 200-some students she teaches annually, even as the 20th century has given way to the 21st and kids have grown increasingly tech-savvy.
"These dancers keep me young, and I definitely try to be current with what is going on with them, and with trends in dance, too," Prunty said.
So with earbuds regularly sprouting from the heads of adolescents and adults alike, Prunty chose the theme "iDance" for her 16th consecutive dance concert, which takes place this Friday and Saturday at Worthington's Memorial Auditorium.
"I asked dancers and their families -- including some grandparents -- what their favorite songs were, what they like to listen to on their iPods, and that's the music being used for this show," explained Prunty.
"There is 'Unchained Melody' by the Righteous Brothers, 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy' for a fast-paced tap number, 'Love Me Tender' by Elvis, and a bunch of '80s songs -- probably due to a lot of the parents having come of age during those years," she said. "But there are a couple songs by Adele and Lady Gaga, so we're also up-to-the-minute."
Dance Academy classes begin at Prunty's studio each September and culminate with the May performances, with dancers from ages 3 to 18-plus demonstrating their skills and dance routines ranging in style from ballet to tap to jazz to modern.
"The students have been working like crazy, and it's so fun watching it come together at the end," said Prunty, as the past few weeks have brought extra rehearsals. "I have such hard-working dancers who have really put in the time, and I want them to enjoy and feel the love of the stage because there's nothing else like it."
With her brother, career Air Force serviceman SMSgt Scott Williams, being deployed to Afghanistan at the end of May, Prunty has planned a special moment in the show honoring Scott and his son (who is a Marine), as well as other military members and veterans in attendance.
"This is an opportunity to honor those who give so much in service to our country," said Prunty. "We have at least three dance families with members in active service, so service people and veterans present are invited to come up on stage to be recognized during 'God Bless the USA.'
"Service people or veterans interested in being part of that can pick up an instruction sheet in the lobby when they arrive, or ask an usher for one."
Another popular element Prunty has included in her shows over the past several years is a "Dads' Dance," which features volunteer fathers of dancers busting their own moves (while trying not to twist a knee or injure their middle-aged backs).
"We have 16 dads dancing this year, and several of them are first-timers, but I'm not revealing what song they'll be dancing to in advance," teased Prunty.
The community-minded Prunty has also chosen a local charity as the beneficiary of her dance audiences' generosity.
Love INC of Worthington, a ministry of 17 local churches that networks existing church ministries and community agencies to fill the gaps in services for those in need, will receive the health and beauty items Prunty is hoping attendees will donate.
"We want to help Love INC fill its 'Personal Needs' closet, so we're asking people to bring a bottle of lotion, shampoo or conditioner, a toothbrush, deodorant, Q-tips, soap, anything in that realm, when they come to the show," said Prunty.
In return, donors will receive tickets at the door, and a few lucky donors will win in a drawing for gift baskets that will take place at intermission.
"We have some amazing products in the baskets from Culligan, Rickers Photography, Pampered Chef by Heidi Ahlers, Jared Ahlers Automotive, Subway, Red Rock Holdings of Brewster, Lakeshore Clips and the Dance Academy," noted Prunty. "We just really like to find a way to give back to the community within the context of the concert."
Prunty also gives credit to the five high school senior dancers she will bid farewell after this weekend's performances, a few of whom have danced in Prunty's program since they were about 4 years old.
"My seniors this year are Emily Anderson, Brittney Thiel, Grace Harms, Kelsey Simons and Haley Gravenhof," listed Prunty. "It's always hard to say goodbye, and I will miss them.
"It's true of all my dancers, but watching these kids grow up has been such a blessing, and having had this time to work with them is something I will always treasure."
The Dance Academy's "iDance" performances are Friday at 7 p.m. and 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Auditorium. Tickets remain available for advance purchase at Center Sports in downtown Worthington, or may be purchased at the door 30 minutes before each performance.