PUBLISHED: 12:28 PM on Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Dance group: just says no to drugs

Photo Courtesy of Amanda Gragert
  Dancers sing about love and friendship to help say no to drugs.
It's a natural high for the girls in Janice D. Holst's dance class.

More than 20 girls ranging in age from 5-17 have given up their Sunday afternoons and much free time during the week to rehearse for the annual Red Ribbon performance. Red Ribbon Week is recognized throughout the United States as drug awareness program.

"We've been doing the Red Ribbon performance since 198 as something to do in the community," Holst said. "It's always a surprise to me how excited the girls get and how they react. The ones who have done it in the past and aren't dancing anymore will still come out and help us. They stay involved."

The dance group will share their collection of five dance and song numbers to area schools Oct. 20-21 before performing at the Red Ribbon Rally from noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23 at Mendenhall Mall.

Photo Courtesy of Amanda Gragert
  Kaitelyn McDonald, left, and Julia Fontana finish a song.
"I like doing the Red Ribbon show because it's helpful hearing the message about saying no to drugs from teachers and other people, but some people learn differently and seeing a performance can be better for some people," said Tracy Lazero, 17.

Angie Hales, 12, said the program is useful to the dancers and the audience.

"We're spreading the message about drugs but we are also teaching ourselves how to keep our bodies healthy," Hales said.

Holst said the girls perform all year for occasions such as Flag Day and Valentine's Day, as well as perform in competitions in Seattle and Las Vegas, Nev.

Photo Courtesy of Amanda Gragert
  Dancers performing in the Red Ribbon Rally are, from left: front, instructor Janice D. Holst, Kaitelyn McDonald, Joni Skrzynski, Nicole Solanoy, Angela Endicott, Isabella Bugayong, Dylan Skryznski, Noalani Davenport and Adrianne Sypeck; back, Kyndra Blacks, Felishia Hope, Sydney Holst, Sarah Endicott, Shanlee Porter, Ashley Gundersen, Eileen Keim, Tracy Lazaro, Carlie Kollar, Erika Holst, Megan Hales, Christina Lara, Emily Sullivan, Hailey Quinto, Julia Fontana and Miranda Vaughan.
She said she teaches the girls to respect each other.

"Sometimes they'll say that a girl will never be a dancer or something like that, but we don't judge here. I tell them that it's not about being a dancer but what you can learn," Holst said.

"A girl who has had dance might simply learn to appreciate dance or the arts or might hold her head up high and not be intimidated when she has to give a presentation in school. It gives them self confidence."

Holst said it can sometimes be difficult to manage a large group of girls in various ages, but they respect her and listen to her instructions.

"I like dancing because it sort of warms up my spirit," said 5-year-old Shanlee Porter.

Girls learn a variety of dance styles such as ballet, dance and tap.

"Tap is my favorite because you can make a lot of noise and be creative with the noise you make," said 8-year-old Eileen Keim.