News Column

Reading program session in San Dimas bursts into a dance

July 7, 2013

YellowBrix

July 07--SAN DIMAS -- Randy Gershman, 6, shook his shoulders, rolled his head and exhaled deep breaths. His sister Lizzy, 4, mimicked dancer/actress Galyn Gorg's movements as she, too, warmed up to "Dance Around The World" without leaving the confines of the Plummer Community Center.

Children danced for joy during the first entertainment session recently for the San Dimas library's summer reading program. The summertime celebration, coordinated by children's librarian Galen Gillotte, continues through Aug. 14 for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary-age children.

Gorg worked with local little ones with the same excitement marking her professional work with choreographers Michael Peters and Debbie Allen, actors Will Smith, Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and Cuba Gooding Jr., director Francis Ford Coppola and entertainers Stevie Wonder, ZZ Top and Al Jarreau.

Every child experienced "dance fever." Numerous moms and dads also got into the act, some so flexible doing leg squats and lifts they were obviously into Pilates and Zumba.

The program was a family affair for the Ebiner siblings. Collette Ebiner, 3, snuggled into the lap of big sister Camille, 15. Sebastiaen, 1, darted around dancers, Zelie, 9, and Estelle, 6, threw themselves into the rhythmic challenges of West African dance and the fluid grace of European ballet.

"Come, tribal members, come!" Gorg shouted above the children's giggles as they bent

low, following her advice to "connect to the Earth" and release their energy. "Imagine there's a big fire in the village. The moon is full. We are happy, so we dance! We dance to celebrate life and because we have plenty of food!"

Kente-cloth-clad children danced in a circle, bending backs, twisting torsos and stomping feet. The smiles on 7-year-old Julia Arqueta's and 6-year-old Julian Castro's faces didn't fade as they slipped into tutus and pointed their feet as though they were posing for New York Ballet publicity shots. Soon, children were leaping and landing solidly on their feet as Gorg told them "Ballet is light and beautiful, but it takes a lot of leg strength to perform."

Avery Rivera, 3, turned his baseball cap sideways, 7- and 8-year-old sisters Haleigh and Sydney Jacobs adjusted white cat eyes' shades, Julian donned dark glasses and 8-year-old Tyler Tan wrapped his arms around his hoodie-clad body as they moved into hip-hop mode. Confidently cool, they then unleashed floor spins, mid-air leaps and movements fit for contortionists as Gorg implored "Love the music. Feel the beat."

Just when one thought it couldn't get wilder, Gorg and her little dancers dove into the Brazilian samba. It was carnival time as soon as Mayra and Emma Juarez, 11 and 6, and other children put on feathered and multi-hued masks and draped themselves in colorful costumes. As the music throbbed, parents jumped up to dance with their offspring, Gorg and dance assistants Rachel Dawson and Katie Birgen.

Breathless and happy, Gorg said the children's response to dance was much like the feeling she experienced at age 9 when she took her first dance lesson.

"Bam! I was hooked," she recalled.

The dance-talent gene of their mother and grandmother, Gwyn Gorg and Frances Yates, was passed on to Galyn and her sisters Gentry, Sunny and Tagi. Galyn is a master of African, jazz, tap, ballet, Haitian, Afro-Cuban, samba, hip-hop, hula and funk dance. She teaches and choreographs dance, does children's show as a Dream Shapers performer and appears in feature film, television and video productions. She has danced at the Grammy Awards and World Festival of Sacred Music and performed for UNICEF, Humanity Unites Brilliance, the International House of Blues Foundation and LA Opera.

"Music and dance are the beauty and heart of our lives, spiritual gifts God gave us to nourish us," Gorg contended. "Children should dance because it's healthy, lets them express their individual genius, inspires them, builds their self-esteem and brings diverse people together."

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(c)2013 the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.)

Visit the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.) at www.dailybulletin.com

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