PROVIDENCE, R.I. — More than 285 dancers graced the Providence Performing Arts Center stage in celebration of the 12th annual Shooting Stars School of Dance recital Saturday, June 19th.
The program came to fruition more than 12 years ago after Newman YMCA Director of Arts and Humanities Ashlee Bourque asked her bosses at the YMCA to teach dance classes to earn internship credits back when she was a student at Dean College. “I started the dance program over 12 years ago to earn enough hours for my internship and the program became so popular that my boss at the time asked if I can make enough to support my salary, I would be offered a full-time position,” said Bourque. “The June show was planned back in October 2020, before I went on maternity leave.”
“The program started out in high schools and moved to the Park Theatre in Cranston,” said Paula Roy, Operations Director at the Newman YMCA in Seekonk. “With COVID, we ended up having it at the Newman YMCA gymnasium in Seekonk. This year, securing it in Providence Performing Arts Center was huge! The dancers and families were excited.”
According to Roy, the first show had more than 600 people and the second show had more than 300 in attendance. “Pre-Covid, we sold more than 1,200 tickets,” said Roy. “We didn’t have as many dancers participating in the show as before Coronavirus.”
Despite the pandemic, this year’s show was able to showcase the amazing strength, resilience and passion of all of the dancers, staff and families. “I’m just super grateful to the families and proud of the dedication of the dancers. It was a strange year for all of them to continue to stick it out,” said Bourque.
For Roy, the most exciting part of this year’s recital was witnessing the jubilant facial expressions of the dancers and their families. “Being at PPAC for the girls was the most exciting part of the recital,” Roy said. “Coming out of Covid and dancing at PPAC was special. I heard one of the girls say, ‘I couldn’t believe I was dancing on the same stage other famous dancers were on.”
According to the Shooting Stars School of Dance Facebook page, dance classes are offered for toddlers up to adults for beginners through advanced, and in a variety of different genres. The program was originally designed to help teach children to dance, build confidence, establish proper dance techniques and maintain a healthy lifestyle through physical movement, while focusing on the YMCA values: Respect, Responsibility, Caring and Honesty.
Bourque tries to incorporate some dancing techniques that she learned after several years of experience as a cheerleader for the New England Patriots into her own dance school. “Any time you work for any other organization, you’re learning and growing as an individual. If anything, the experience working as a cheerleader for the New England Patriots helped me grow professionally on a more individual level and I was able to bring that to my dancers.