Local dancers celebrate on stage despite COVID-19 delay

ABOVE: Angie Ver Ploeg, on the far right, directs her younger dancers at their postponed recital on Thursday, June 11. The dance recitals were moved to Lynnville’s Old Settlers Pavilion after a nearly three-month delay due to COVID-19.

                A series of changes from start to finish made Angie Ver Ploeg’s spring dance classes one for the memory and record books. Ver Ploeg’s two dance classes were finally able to perform their recital in front of family and friends on Thursday, June 11, in the Old Settlers Pavilion in Lynnville.

                Ver Ploeg boasted her largest number of dancers this past season, and for the first time ever in her dance teaching career, she split the girls into two groups by age. The younger group consisted of 16 tiny dancers ages four to seven, the most Ver Ploeg has ever had in one class. This group in particular was a tight-knit bunch as there were three sets of sisters and two sets of cousins dancing. The older group featured eight girls in grades second through fourth.

                Both classes learned choreography and routines of ballet, tap, and jazz to popular songs from the soundtrack of “Frozen II.” “It’s neat that on the class’s five-year anniversary, we did ‘Frozen II,’ reflecting back to the theme the class started with,” said Ver Ploeg. Her first dance class in 2015 revolved around the original “Frozen” soundtrack.

                Before the coronavirus shutdown, dancers in both groups had been meeting once a week since February at Lynnville City Hall for 45 minutes to practice their performance. Just when they were near the finish line in mid-March, classes were put on hold and the recital postponed due to COVID-19. During the time they were unable to meet as a group, Ver Ploeg emailed videos of the choreography so the girls could practice at home. Finally, three months later than anticipated, dancers who were able met one time – on Wednesday, June 10 – for a quick refresh before performing on stage in the pavilion to wrap up the extended spring dance season.

                “I was so thrilled to get to use Old Setts Pavilion stage for this performance and I plan to pursue that in the future if possible. It happened out of COVID-19 necessity this time, but was a wonderful space for us to allow the audience to spread out and it offered great acoustics and lighting, plus it was easier to see everyone with them being up on an elevated stage,” said Ver Ploeg.

                The younger girls took the stage first, followed by the older girls, who had the bonus opportunity of improv where they performed solos, duets, and trios of freestyle dancing. Both performances received rave reviews and crowd applause. Ver Ploeg rewarded each dancer with a special treat and gift after the recital.

                Ver Ploeg has been providing spring and fall dance classes at Lynnville City Hall for children ages four to 10 since 2015. Past themes for the dance classes have revolved around the soundtracks from “Tarzan,” “Trolls,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Greatest Showman,” as well as praise and worship songs and a theme of Disney princesses.

                “My goal for these classes is to offer affordable, local, and fun dance for the young girls in the area. I know if they get more serious about dance, they'll have to go somewhere else, but I can certainly offer a great starting point to try the basics in a non-pressure atmosphere,” said Ver Ploeg.

                Ver Ploeg’s classes are laidback and she is very accommodating to every personality. The classes are offered at low cost and parents do not incur additional costs for costumes. “The focus is to make it affordable and fun for the girls,” said Ver Ploeg.

                “Having two daughters in the class myself, I know they have really enjoyed dancing with their friends over the years,” said Ver Ploeg. “Getting to dance with these sweet girls once a week honestly brings me so much joy. It is something I truly look forward to because seeing their sweet smiles just brighten my day.”

                Ver Ploeg always connects with past dance families when she is ready to offer a new dance season, and also advertises in the Hometown Press. Stay tuned for information about the fall season.

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