Swing dance troupe set for cruise
You could simply call it dancing, but what the Razzmatazz Swing Dance Troupe does is so much more.
“The kids like all the tricks and stuff,” said troupe leader Dominique Del Chiaro. “It’s like being a semi-acrobat, and that’s what gets the crowd excited.”
The Nevada County troupe was busy practicing twirls, twists and flying-through-the-air feats this week at the L.O.V.E. Building in Grass Valley’s Condon Park, getting ready for a special crowd. On Sunday, it will board a cruise ship in Los Angeles to perform during a week’s sojourn along the Mexican Riviera.
“The program is called Stars At Sea,” Del Chiaro said. “They get discount tickets and they’ll do two performances on the ship.”
The troupe is excited about the cruise, but you get the feeling watching them perform they would enjoy swing dancing anywhere, anytime.
“It’s the excitement, being able to work with a partner, a team, and flying through the air is really fun,” said Becca Malech, 15, of Smartville. “It’s a great way to express yourself.”
To Del Chiaro’s assistant Parker Kellen, 21, of Grass Valley, “It’s the single most important thing in my life.” Kellen is the senior performer with the troupe and also teaches dance at area schools.
He got into swing when he went to dance at the St. Joseph’s Cultural Center and got discovered by other troupe members.
“It makes me feel more healthy and free,” Kellen said. “There’s nothing to compare it to.”
Mariah King, 20, used to take photos of her sister in the troupe before she became a member.
“Now I go dancing every Friday night in Sacramento,” King said. “It’s a great way to exercise and let the music take your feet where they want to go.”
Josh Rice, 16, of North San Juan, joined upon his stepmother’s suggestion.
“I showed up for the first class and I really, really loved it,” Rice said. “I’d always enjoyed dancing, but didn’t know how. It was nice to learn a form of dance and develop it.”
“It’s always been a teen-age dance,” Del Chiaro said of swing. “It was developed by teenagers” in the mid-1930s and continued to evolve through the 1950s Elvis era.
“It’s more than a sport, and it’s more than dancing,” said Del Chiaro, “It’s professional performance.”
Del Chiaro is a former professional swing dancer who performed in Reno and brought Razzmatazz here in 2002, after starting it in Truckee.
“I’ve never had kids, but I’ve always had kids” with the troupe, said Del Chiaro, 41. “I’ve learned the secret to not getting old and that’s to dance and hang out with teenagers.”
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, contact email@example.com, or call 477-4237.
How to join
Members of the Razzmatazz Swing Dance Troupe pay a monthly fee for instructions and costumes. The troupe also will have a camp this summer, starting July 9. For more information, call troupe leader Dominique Del Chiaro at 477-0767, or log onto the Web sites razzmatazzswing.com or salsasierra.com.
– Dave Moller
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