December 17, 2017
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Top Hat Dancers “Making Spirits Bright”

Community Author: Sandy Sanzaro
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Contact: tophatii@aol.com
Emily McIntosh Photography
Emily McIntosh Photography

On December 9th, the Top Hat II Dance Team will gather on stage at the Collins Center for the Arts for the Opening number of the studio’s annual holiday show, “Making Spirits Bright”. During recital weekend, all dancers will be focused on giving their best performance. When not on stage, however, the dancers work together on various projects to brighten spirits throughout the year.

The studio’s annual “Wear What You Want Week” was dedicated to hurricane relief. Dancers who made a financial donation or contributed to the collection of soap, toothbrushes, shampoo and other personal care items could wear Halloween costumes, pajamas, or sweatpants to class, rather than the leotards that are usually required. Dancers and parents contributed generously, and Senior Team dancers sorted all of the items brought in during the week, filling 8 shipping boxes.   Chad White, father of dancer Kelsey, delivered the boxes to the Scarborough Walmart, to be shipped to Puerto Rico with other items collected by Deb Roberts. Deb organized the collection in memory of her son, Michael Holland, who died in the sinking of the El Faro in 2015.

Top Hat II’s Senior Dance Team added to the hurricane relief project by sponsoring a Halloween themed dance party for younger students and their friends. The Dance Team purchased the food and supplies so that all funds raised at the dance party could go to the project. The teens decorated, sold snacks, directed contests, and danced with the 3rd – 6th graders.

Monetary donations during “Wear What You Want Week,” along with the money raised at the dance party, totaled almost $900, which will be sent to help hurricane victims on the US Virgin Island of St. John. Leah Boucher, a former dance team member who is currently a senior at UMF, attended a training institute on St. John, and has learned that the research facility was completely destroyed, along with many other properties on the island.

Top Hat II also provides support closer to home. The studio directors lead by example, making an annual $500 holiday donation to an organization that provides services for children, families or animals. On December 15th, members of the dance team will entertain children, senior citizens and health care providers in the Bangor area during their annual “mini tour “. The tour includes performances at schools and health care facilities, including the Elizabeth Levinson Center, where the dancers perform and bring gifts for the residents.

Efforts to help others continue in the spring, when the Top Hat II Dance Team will host the 3rd annual benefit performance that includes dancers from area studios. John Bapst Memorial High School has provided their auditorium for previous shows that have raised several thousand dollars to assist the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Bangor Humane Society, and Embrace A Vet programs.

Dance is the common interest that brings members of the Top Hat II Dance Team together, but they soon find that they can use their talents and time to do more than entertain audiences at large auditoriums. It turns out that a job well done for someone else can be even more rewarding than applause at a sold out show.