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Legacy Dance Company teaches with empathy

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Legacy Dance Company (LDC) of Glenwood Springs is preparing for its fifth annual dance recital — “Legends of Dance” — which will take place May 6-7 at Glenwood Springs High School, starting at 6:30 p.m.

LDC hosts dance classes for everyone from 18 months of age to 18 years and above. These types of dance courses include ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, modern movement, hip-hop, acro, conditioning and progressing ballet techniques.

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Bella Barnum-Collier, the company’s owner and executive director, referred to their updated mission statement, “creating great dancers but even better people.” This came from meeting with her team of dance teachers.

“We really like to take the approach of achieving great technique. But, ultimately, we are here for them emotionally: to support. We want [dancers] to have the best experience possible,” stated Barnum-Collier. 

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She and her team sat down with The Sopris Sun to talk about the direction that the company has taken in their teaching style, and what plans they have for their students. Joining Barnum-Collier was her sister and co-teacher, Bailey Barnum, Jameson Osbourn, Laura Huwa, Nicole Zinn and Riley Terry. 

Each teacher credited students’ successes to empathic approaches to learning. Teachers started doing mental health checks with their students, having open and honest discussions about negative experiences in dance and helping students stay grounded. All of this provides the students with as positive a start as possible as they launch their aspiring dance careers. LDC often takes difficult moments that students experience — in or out of the studio — as teaching moments, which they can later tie into their routines. 

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“We go beyond teaching dance,” explained Barnum. “There have been times where we will sit with a student, one-on-one, or even with the class and talk them through stuff; teach them life lessons.”

The staff at LDC also credited their working relationships as a factor that sets them apart from other dance companies. Osbourn proudly proclaimed that there is “a wonderful ebb and flow” as educators teaching new generations of dancers and learning for themselves. 

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“I don’t think a lot of companies would talk about what we do, those faults in front of one another. We embrace that,” Osbourn continued. “It gives us the ability to graph how we want to lead our dancers.”

Terry shared that sentiment, stating that providing a “solid emotional cushion” and safe environment for students to be open and honest is extremely important to her, especially given how vulnerable it is to perform.

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LDC also offers summer camps, competes in regional and national competitions and frequently performs for local and private events.The sites of some of their most prominent performances are Strawberry Days, the Hotel Colorado Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the St. Stephen Catholic Church Winter Gala. They recently partnered with Aspen Dance Connection for a celebration of tap dancing, described by Barnum-Collier as “small but mighty,’ with plans of returning as an annual event. 

“We want to provide the students with more opportunities, that’s why we’re doing things like the tap festival and taking them to conventions,” Barnum continued. 

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Other elements that the company is hoping to include in the future are teaching more classic tap styles, incorporating musical theater programming, ballroom dancing and more. 

The upcoming “Legends of Dance” recital will feature a plethora of different styles of dance which the company has been focusing on, along with a condensed version of the second act of the classic ballet “Swan Lake,” featuring students from kindergarten through middle school. 

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For ticket information, upcoming event announcements, or to enroll in classes, visit: 

Tags: #Bella Barnum-Collier #Dance #Legacy Dance Company #Myki Jones
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