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Education through dance

Drew Butler
drew.butler@ardmoreite.com

Local dancers will come together Saturday evening at the Washington Theater for a very special performance, The Debbie Show. The event will feature a wide variety of dance styles including solo performances, duos, trios and larger group numbers. The performance will be raising money for the Debbie Collins Dance Fund, a nonprofit focused on creating opportunities for young dancers to continue their dance education.

Local dance instructor Shannon Crites said the Debbie Collins Dance Fund was created to honor the legacy of longtime dance teacher Debbie Collins who passed away from breast cancer in 2001.

“Right after Debbie passed in March of 2001, a group of friends came together and said we would like to do something in her name,” Crites said. “We wanted to do something to help the community, so we formed a 501c3, and it actually all started with this benefit show.”

Crites said the organization awards scholarships to students looking to continue their dance education outside of the traditional studio setting. This can include conventions, master classes, dance camps and even college scholarships if the student is attending for dance.

While the majority of students receiving the scholarship come from the Ardmore area, Crites said it is open to young dancers from across the nation. Students from as far away as North Carolina have received money from the organization.

Crites believes their annual fall dance intensive has helped spread the word about the organization. The Debbie Dance Intensive began in 2010, and has now grown to fill the Ardmore Convention Center every year. Students come from hundreds of miles to attend.

“We have kids that come from all over Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas and other states to come to the Debbie Dance Intensive,” Crites said. “The groups that we bring in to Ardmore are absolutely unbelievable.”

Crites said the show this weekend will be an excellent way for the community to support young dancers.

“It’s great for everyone all the way around,” Crites said. “The kids have worked really hard, and it’s going to be so cute and fun. It’s another performance opportunity for the students and a great way for the community to support arts education.”

The Debbie Show is taking place at the Washington Theater at 6 p.m. on Saturday, January 18. The show will feature approximately 25 separate numbers and last an hour and a half to two hours. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door. All proceeds will benefit the Debbie Collins Dance Fund.