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Young Audiences student dancers meet Hollywood choreographer

Published: March 16, 2012

Young dancers from Woodmere Elementary School and Lincoln Elementary School for the Arts got a unique opportunity last week to ask Hollywood director and choreographer Adam Shankman what it’s like to be a professional in the entertainment industry.
The question-and-answer session was arranged by Young Audiences of Louisiana, which provides the after-school dance programs at the schools.
Shankman’s donation through his organization, The Dizzy Feet Foundation, helped make the tap programs at Woodmere and Lincoln possible.
On Saturday, March 3, Shankman saw a special performance of student tap, ballet, and African dance and drums at The Healing Center before fielding questions from students. One of the groups he saw was Woodmere’s African dance and drums program, which was recently nominated for a Big Easy Award from Gambit Weekly.
“The showcase was incredible; the children are so good and worked together like professionals,” said Jenny James, Program Director for Young Audiences of Louisiana. “The questions they asked Adam were quite intelligent and thoughtful.”
Student questions ranged from asking about Shankman’s professional life to what he likes best about dancing.
“When I’m dancing, I feel most like myself,” he said. “The most beautiful thing about dance and making music is that you can do that for the rest of your life.”
He said dancing teaches discipline, dedication, cooperation and many other skills that can be used throughout one's life.
Shankman also fielded poignant questions about whether he ever thought about quitting.
After a pause, Shankman said he’s felt discouraged before, but being around students like these inspire him to keep going.
“I had a bad day at work yesterday before I flew here...and I thought about giving up. But today, I saw you guys and stopped wanting to give up.”

The Dizzy Feet Foundation was founded by producer Nigel Lythgoe, “Dancing with the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba, actress Katie Holmes, and Adam Shankman in an effort to improve and increase access to dance education for disadvantaged youth.

Young Audiences of Louisiana has adapted and evolved over the past 50 years to serve the ever-changing needs of students in our community. Today, it employs over 220 local artists who reach over 100,000 students in Louisiana through performances, residencies, and extended learning programming. In afterschool and summer programs alone, Young Audiences serves over 2,000 students free-of-charge in the greater New Orleans area. For more information visit www.ya4la.org

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