Stomping out a beat

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Christal Holmes, left, and Thea Crawley lead the students as they practice for the Step Show. Christal Holmes, left, and Thea Crawley lead the students as they practice for the Step Show. Students get ready for the spring Step Show

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Stomping a hardwood floor and raising their hands high, students of all ages thundered through the Middle Township Middle School gymnasium last week, grinning fiercely and using their feet to pound out the beat to Katy Perry’s latest hit.

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire

‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar

“We try to find songs that inspire the kids,” said Thea Crawley, a teacher’s aide and advisor to the township’s Step Show. “That’s why we’re starting off this year’s program with ‘Roar.’”

The Step Show is an annual event for Middle Township schools, and it’s open to students from kindergarten through the 12th grade. This year, about 60 students will be part of the show.

For 90 minutes and 22 dance routines, students will dominate the stage at the Performing Arts Center on April 25 at 7 p.m. – sometimes gliding through a lyrical dance, other times stomping out a hip-hop beat.

“The Step Show is about the kids,” Crawley said. “It’s about making them comfortable with themselves and their talent.”

Christal Holmes, a teacher at Middle Township Elementary No. 2, started the Step Show for the schools 22 years ago, and even then it was a popular event. “We had about 50 kids dancing,” Holmes said.

Seventeen years ago, Andrea Davis, a teacher at Middle Township Elementary No. 1, and Crawley joined the production as advisors. This year, Kirstin McNeal and Kimberly Shelton have signed on as parent volunteers.

Each year, Crawley, Davis and Holmes help the children choreograph the routines and they encourage input from the students. “The kids will come up with an idea or a song, and we help them with the dance steps,” Crawley said.

Each song is carefully vetted by the teachers before it’s added to the show, Davis said. The advisors read the lyrics and pay close attention to the meaning of the tune.

“As long as the kids and their parents can walk away with something good, we include the song in the dance,” Crawley said.

The students have practiced together since October. They danced just two nights a week through February. But at the beginning of March, they’ve stomped the floors of the Middle School gym three nights a week.

“For the week before the show, we’ll practice for six hours every night,” Crawley said.

Part of the money raised by the Step Show pays for the costumes for the dance recital. “Each dance has its own outfit,” Crawley said.

Other funds are used to take the children on a trip to Morey’s Pier for the Education Extravaganza scheduled in May. The Education Extravaganza is day of workshops and entertainment open to students in grades 3 through 12. The program includes seashore ecology, basic physics, peer leadership on the beach and a peek behind the scenes of the ghost ship.

After the workshops, Crawley said the students will be free to spend the day on the pier.

“Any money that’s left over is rolled over into the next year.”

The show typically raises $1,200 to $1,500, Crawley said.

The program is a mixture of different songs and styles. This year’s tunes include “Roar,” “What does the Fox Say?,” “Break Every Chain” and “Remember the Name.”

“The Step Show is open to everyone,” Crawley said, “and it gives the kids something to do and show off their talent,” Crawley said.

“It’s a full dance show,” Davis said. “We’ll have dance routines that span a wide range of dance styles, including lyrical, hip-hop, jazz and liturgical.”

WHAT: Step Show

WHEN: April 25, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Middle High School Performing Arts Center

COST: $5 at the door

Students practice different styles of dance at the Middle Township Middle School gym for the Step Show scheduled in April. Students practice different styles of dance at the Middle Township Middle School gym for the Step Show scheduled in April. Students practice different styles of dance at the Middle Township Middle School gym for the Step Show scheduled in April. Students practice different styles of dance at the Middle Township Middle School gym for the Step Show scheduled in April. Students practice different styles of dance at the Middle Township Middle School gym for the Step Show scheduled in April. Students practice different styles of dance at the Middle Township Middle School gym for the Step Show scheduled in April. Students practice different styles of dance at the Middle Township Middle School gym for the Step Show scheduled in April. Students practice different styles of dance at the Middle Township Middle School gym for the Step Show scheduled in April.


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