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It's Fun to Dance at the Tarrytown YMCA

The Tarrytown YMCA may seem like an odd place to house a professional dance company but co-artistic director Jane Alexandre says it’s “completely great.”

“You have all these students here who get to be around a professional company and the activities of a professional company, but by the same token, the people who run the company get to be around all these students,” Alexandre, a Tarrytown resident, said. “It gives us all this creative energy and push to be around, to be here and to be working with this many students.”

Evolve Dance was founded in 2006 and is a non-profit dance company. In addition to professional training, the company also runs the Y Dance Program. Company members teach classes in ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, tap and even aerial silk dancing, which was inspired after a company member saw a Cirque du Soleil show.

Evolve Dance also has apprentice ensembles for adults, teens and children.

While the dance company works on some of its own material, co-artistic director and Tarrytown resident Julie Johnson said one of the big things it does is collaborate with different kinds of artists. One upcoming event features a master class in West African Dance and Drum. Chiku Awali, a Rockland County based group, will be at the Tarrytown YMCA from 2:30 to 4 p.m. to teach participants.

Company member Colleen Cintron, who lives in New York City, said she joined Evolve after meeting Johnson in college.

“She was saying she had this idea, wanted to make this piece. I said ‘I will dance for you!’” Cintron said.

Being a part of the company has been a positive experience, Cintron said.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said. “I enjoy the process of it. I enjoy working with a lot of different people and a lot of opportunities have come through working for Evolve.”

One of those opportunities was traveling to Ghana to participate in a dance and cultural exchange. Evolve dance learned  traditional West African dance, drums and drum carving while teaching “Western-based” dance forms such as salsa.

“It was just a really amazing interchange of ideas and traditions and history,” Johnson said.

Evolve Dance is continuing its international outreach. Alexandre said it’s trying to go to China next year to visit an arts organization.

One of the great things about the company, Alexandre said, is that “nothing is set in stone.”

“We will see something and respond to it,” she said. “Maybe we’ll see something we need and respond to it or Julie will get an idea and we’ll respond to that… Because it’s an artist-centered organization, the impulses come out of people in the company.”

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