Modern dance at Holton Center: More like a sisterhood

“5, 6, 7, 8!” said dance instructor Armani White as she led her all-girl modern dance class into their routine. Durham Parks & Recreation offers teens (whether the teens are experienced dancers or not) affordable modern dance classes at the Holton Career and Resource Center.

White and her dancers meet every Wednesday night in the auditorium of the Holton Career and Resource Center. The class emphasizes contemporary, lyrical, jazz, and other dance styles for girls between 13 and 18 years old.

“Most of the girls have never danced before, so, I like seeing them start from the bottom and grow,” said White.

White, 22, is the owner of Royal Legacy Dance Company in Durham, a majorette dance team girls ages 5-17. White is trained in modern, hip hop, jazz, and more.

She said her company also uses the building for classes, and one night while they were practicing, Durham Parks & Recs said they needed an instructor for its modern dance class and offeredher position.

Durham Parks & Recs has about 25 performing arts classes from ballet to West African drumming classes.

“It gives children something to do, and it’s affordable,” said Amaris Stephens, whose daughter Synia dances with the group.

Stephens likes the fact that her daughter can burn tons of energy doing something she loves.

“She has to drop off all of that energy somewhere, why not here?” said Stephens as she chuckled.

She said the girls met over the summer when they first started, and described them as more of a “sisterhood” instead of just a regular dance class.

“I love coming here on Wednesdays because we learn a lot from Ms. Armani, and we have fun,” said 13-year-old Essence Jacobs. “I was excited when my mom signed me up for the classes in the summer because it was something different to do.”

Recreation Supervisor Keith DosReis, Jr. said there’s an end of the year celebration where students showcase their talents and what they’ve learned in the classes. He said about 750 people attended at the last showcase.

The average cost for the dance classes is about $8 with a “play more” card, which gives participants a 10 percent or greater discount on all recreation programs, and you must be a Durham resident.

“This is their home, we need them to know this is their home,” said Dos Reis. “We just want to get the word out into the community in order to give kids something to do and somewhere to go.”

Dos Reis said the performing arts program started about3 three years ago. He said he plans on doing more promotion and partnering.

“This building isn’t just a school, there’s so much that we have to offer here,” said Dos Reis.

White’s class will travel to Washington, D.C. in March to watch a professional dance team perform. She said she hopes the girls will gain inspiration and knowledge from it. She wants her dancers to be technically trained in every style of dance to prepare them for auditions.