An Austin-based dance team is just a few hundred dollars short of funding their trip this past weekend to perform in the “drop everything and dance” competition in Atlanta.
“We want to represent not only Chicago, but the Austin community as well,” said Latricia Walker, founder and director of Final Explosion Dance Studio.
The trip will shine a light on the positive things happening in Chicago, Walker said, and hopefully counter some of the negativity too often associated with the city.
The dance team is made up of 13 girls and four boys between the ages of 4 and 18.
All summer, the students have been raising money by passing out promotional flyers and asking residents for donations, Walker said, but they were still $272 shy of their $3,000 goal as of Friday, Aug. 28th.
“All of our contributions have been coming from fundraising on Central and Madison,” Walker said.
Raising most of their goal would not have been possible if it weren’t for community help, she said.
Most of the dancers’ moms and dads are either low-income or single parents, Walker said, and community donations would help alleviate much of the travel expense they would otherwise have to pay for themselves.
Expenses include a plane ticket, a three-day hotel stay, rental of a 15-passenger van for transportation around Atlanta, plus other costs such as food. The team also plans to take a trip to an amusement park after participating in the dance competition.
“Most of the things our kids want to do, we can’t afford,” Walker said. This is why help from the community is necessary.
Kimberly Brown, mother of two of the dancers, said groups like Final Explosion Dance Studio are key to keeping kids out of trouble and off the streets.
“This was a way that I was able to keep my kids involved because I’m a working parent,” Brown said.
Her kids enjoy performing, which is why it’s important that she keep them active in the dance group, she said.
“It’s not like they’re asking for gym shoes or something like that,” Brown said. “It’s something that they want to do. So with the community’s involvement, it would be a great help to keep the kids motivated and keep them active.”
The Final Explosion Dance Studio, which opened in December 2008, has competed in several dance competitions over the years.
But Walker said last year she decided the group would no longer compete for prizes but rather attend dance events for the experience and to network.
“I’ve learned that the kids have more fun when they are going to perform instead of all the pressure from competing.”
In addition to showing what positive things are happening in Chicago, the dancers also look forward to networking with other teams, and learning new moves and increasing their fan base, Walker said.
Check out some of the dancers’ past performances on YouTube.
Donations may be made through a gofundme account, or by contacting the studio at (773) 658-3246.