CARIBOU, Maine — Abby and Paige Small began their Small Steps Dance program in 2006 when they were just 13 and 11 years old, respectively.
The sisters had danced competitively in Edmundston, New Brunswick, for a number of years and wanted to be directly involved with sports and dance, so they drew up a business plan and presented it to Kathy Mazzuchelli, director of the Caribou Parks and Recreation Department. Mazzuchelli was an important part of the inception of Small Steps Dance, because she encouraged and supported the business plan that Abby and Paige had presented. More than 100 dancers signed up to participate. People of all ages, from 2 to 71 years, participated weekly during that first summer, and by request, what started out being a summer program, progressed into an affordable, age-appropriate, year-round dance option for the community.
The Small sisters have learned quickly about responsibility, accountability, finances and leadership and the process also has allowed them to experience special moments that they will remember forever.
“Each class I learn so many new things about children, engaging with adults, and also about myself. I value my time in class because for that hour with the kids, I am able to be a part of something special and unique to that environment,” said Abby.
Another aspect of Small Steps Dance that is very important to the two sisters is allowing the families and friends of participants to sit in on practices and watch what the children are learning.
“We want the families and friends of these dancers to be able to experience these moments as well. Spectators are encouraged to pull up a chair and watch the practice. It is not unusual for a grandparent to be snapping some pictures of their grandchild stretching or dancing during class,” added Paige.
A recital is held every year to showcase what the Small Step dancers have accomplished through long hours and dedicated practice. This year their show is at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, at the Caribou Performing Arts Center. Some participants have only a few lessons before performing on stage. The dancers each have their reason for being involved. “We have dancers with special needs and it really doesn’t matter, because when the music starts playing, they are all doing and enjoying the same thing,” said Abby.
“It’s not about doing the moves flawlessly; it’s about having fun and enjoying what you’re doing.” Paige added.
For more information on the Small Steps Dance show, call 551-2050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.