JFK offers the gift of dance to thank the community

Published 6:02 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2020

It’s been a long year, but December is giving us a reason to believe that better things may be on the horizon.

Austin Just For Kix dancers surprised area residents with a performance this past weekend. Photos provided

Madaline Rohr, director of Just For Kix in Austin, was simply looking to find a way to get a performance in for some of her dancers when an idea from a dance parent illuminated like a light bulb. That parent had mentioned that the dancers could put together a flash mob, like the ones featuring Santa Claus that have popped up all over social media. Rohr took that idea and ran with it, ultimately deciding to give seven special Austin residents a special showing this past weekend.

“I wanted to make it safe and personal,” Rohr said. “I thought about individuals in the community who have really been affected by COVID. We wanted to give them a thank you. The kids nominated who they wanted to dance for and we voted for the winners in class. It was really hard to narrow it down because the kids had so many good nominations.”

The JFK dancers traveled by caravan on Sunday and they popped up on the lawns of a group home with disabled residents, Nexus-Gerard Family Healing and the homes of Ann Weydert, a nurse at Banfield Elementary, Farin Delany, a counselor at IJ Holton Intermediate School, Felicia Nelson, a nurse, Austin Packer dance coach Kayla Sellers and Dewey Schara, the principal at IJ Holton.

Rohr did her research with families to make sure the visits would be a surprise to everyone and it worked to perfection. Schara was pleasantly surprised when he saw a few IJ Holton students in his front yard, but when he found out they were there to thank him, he was blown away.

Austin Packer dance coach Kayla Sellers and her family react to the Just For Kix dancers who showed up to surprise her this past weekend. Photo Provided

“I will admit I got emotional.  With distance learning at the schools I haven’t seen our students for what seems like forever,” Schara said. “Their performance was stellar. Really, I could not have asked for a better Christmas present. I will never forget this. Madaline, Marny (Rohr) and Just for Kix get what serving the community is all about and that’s what they teach their dancers. I am sure their performances have been canceled or rescheduled due to COVID-19 so this is an incredibly creative and impactful way to showcase what they do. I can tell you that this educator was ‘taken to school’ and shown some serious Holiday Spirit.”

Rohr said the reactions to the JFK dancers showing up was priceless, and certainly worth all of the planning that went into the day.

“I can’t even put into words how amazing it was when the people walked out,” Madaline said. “They were really confused that there were 20 dancers in their yard decked out in Christmas gear. When we explained to them that the kids picked them, I think that was the Christmas gift.”

The two-minute performance was a product of a few zoom practices and the first time the JFK dancers did it together was this past weekend.

The dancers, parents, and people who were visited, all were able to gain a greater appreciation for the holiday season, even in the midst of a pandemic.

“We tried to keep it fun and we weren’t too picky with them because it wasn’t a competition or anything. We taught a fun routine over zoom and we didn’t actually see it until we did in person. It went well and they picked it up,” Madaline said. “The girls loved it and the parents were emotional. Everybody could feel how cool and special it was. I think it’s something that they’ll remember forever and they’re already asking if they can do it again next year.”