Dance Trax 51 studio

Journee Breaux, 3, has a bounce on the trampoline while her mom signs her up for lessons in the Dance Trax 51 studio. The troupe’s season begins Sept. 3.

NEEDLES — The season starts Sept. 3 for the popular Dance Trax 51 program of the Needles Recreation Department. Registration continues online at dancestudio-pro.com/online/dancetrax51.

Students are experiencing a great deal in the studio adjacent the Needles Recreation Center off J Street. Instructor Graci Weiss explained: “I think the most important thing they should know is that when students come to Dance Trax they are learning more than dance. In fact I would say dance is almost secondary of what we learn in this room.

“We learn how to love each other. We learn how to support one another. We learn to get over our fears. We learn how to be okay with our bodies, okay with who we are. We learn that when you work really hard you can master something. We learn that you have to show up if you want to get better. We learn about friendships.

“So my goal is not only to teach these people, and especially the girls, to be beautiful dancers, but to be beautiful people and that’s what we want them to take out the door. To be better people.”

Classes include tap, ballet, jazz, tiny tot tumbling and adult tap. Dancers get to show off what they’ve learned at community performances during the Holiday Fun Fair, Colorado River Round Up Rodeo, various school events and the troupe’s annual spring recital. This year, a select group will enter competition along with celebrity dancers from the community in Needles Dances with the Stars, during the Needles Chamber of Commerce annual awards dinner at The Palms River Resort on Oct. 5.

What does it take to be a dancer? “I think first of all you have to love music and that has to be what motivates your body to move,” said Weiss. “Just like any athlete you have to have the desire. You have to have the passion. And then you have to have the determination to work hard to meet your goal.”

How long does it take to achieve proficiency? “It depends,” Weiss said. “Some people are born with a body that knows what to do very quickly. Some people have to work harder. But it’s really a lifetime of evolution … I think we’re constantly learning. I really don’t know if you could ever say, ‘Okay, I’m done. I’m proficient. That’s it.’ I think it’s constantly being better than you were the day before.”

It’s not necessary to start children really young to become good dancers, Weiss said; and there really isn’t any age that’s too old. “We have adults that come in here and put tap shoes on and do very, very well,” she said.

“If you start younger, and you devote yourself to it, you’re going to have that experience, which is just as important as talent.

“I have, for example, a 13-year-old who started dance with me two yeas ago and she is amazing. She’s moving right up the ranks very quickly just because it’s in her. Her body just does what it’s supposed to do. She has the desire, she works on it; her body was just meant to dance. Sometimes you run into that.”

Want to learn more? Visit dancestudio-pro.com/online/dancetrax51 for registration, class schedules and more.

Weiss can also be reached via email at needlesdance@yahoo.com; or can be messaged at www.facebook.com/dancetrax.fiftyone. A fan of Instagram? Check the young dancers out at www.instagram.com/dancetraxfiftyone/.

Want to help? Dance Trax 51 has a charity arm called Cindi’s Kids that operates under the umbrella of the Needles Youth Development and Education Foundation. Created in memory of Weiss’ mother, Cindi’s Kids performs functions such as sending dancers to further education, offsetting costs including specialized shoes, and providing some arts and athletic scholarships.

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