Community Events

Local Y now offering dance classes


Most adults listen politely but pay little attention when a teenager comes to them with a business suggestion. That wasn’t the case when 17-year-old Isabel Allen dropped by Atmore Area YMCA recently to discuss the possible establishment of a dance program at the local facility.

“Ms. Allen came to the YMCA unannounced and asked if we were interested in having dance classes at the YMCA,” said Paul Chason, the Y’s chief executive officer. “Wow, did I perk right up. We had a very good discussion about some of the things she has done previously.”

Chason said the two talked about Allen’s work with Greater Escambia Council for the Arts, where she performs in plays, works backstage and assists in various behind-the-scenes roles. By the time she left, they had reached an agreement under which Allen would conduct dance classes at the facility.

“I was very impressed with Isabel’s preparations,” Chason said. “She made a very good sales pitch that answered many questions upfront and was well prepared to answer my questions. Since our initial discussion, we have moved quickly to make this opportunity a reality. I believe she will be a great addition at the YMCA.”

Allen will begin her Y tenure by conducting dance classes during the summer camp program for A.C. Moore Elementary School students.

The teen, who has been dancing for 12 years and involved in teaching dance for three years, said her parents pointed her toward the YMCA as a possible outlet for her dancing abilities.

“We moved here from Birmingham, and I found out that there was no dance program in Atmore,” Allen recalled. “My parents suggested that I check into the possibility of teaching dance at the Y, and Mr. Chason was very receptive.”

Chason said the agreement also included the continuation of classes beyond summer camp, providing the Y with a regular dance program.

“This is an unexpected, but welcome addition to the camp,” he said. “However, the primary focus is her scheduled dance classes that are external to the summer program. We hope the dance program will grow and allow many children in our community an opportunity to explore their skills as a dancer.”

Allen will offer classes to youngsters 4 years old and older. The age groups for which instruction will be available are 4-6, 7-10 and from 11 up. She said she would provide instruction in ballet, jazz, tap and lyrical dance, which is basically a combination of ballet and jazz.

“Lyrical dance is fun, because it’s not so much in the box,” Allen explained. “It’s more like a creative experience.”

For the time being, classes will be conducted in the old library area at the Y. Chason said he hoped the program would be successful enough to eventually have its own dedicated area.

“When the program grows, we envision preparing a room upstairs with the desired wooden floors to make this an even better offering,” he said. “We look forward to making this a success for Isabel and the YMCA.”

Registration for dance classes is presently ongoing. To find out more about the registration process or about the new program, call 251-368-9622. To register, stop by the Y’s 501 South Pensacola Avenue headquarters.