Youth dance troupe wins Putumayo contest |

Youth dance troupe wins Putumayo contest

Moving Ground Dance Ensemble, a local youth performing group, recently won the grand prize in a dance contest hosted by Putumayo World Music, a multi-cultural music producer based in New York.

The contest entry was “Oh Siambe,” a contemporary Afro-fusion style dance piece the dancers recently performed in the community showcase, WinterDance, at Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. (You can find the Moving Ground Dance Ensemble’s winning video at

Ensemble director Marianne Reagan had been working with the eight girls since they were tots – they now range in age from 9 to 12 – and three years ago started them performing in local dance concerts.

“They’ve been going along through a creative movement program into creative dance, which leads to modern dance,” said Reagan, who operates her studio at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center in Grass Valley.

Her girls “are very dedicated,” practicing weekly, some attending ballet classes elsewhere, and all of them stepping it up to twice-weekly rehearsals when they are preparing for a show.

The local venues and appreciative audiences have created “a wonderful opportunity” for the girls, she added. “We’ve had lots of fun.”

Dancers include Delpine Griffith, Junet Bedayn, Zoe Brownwood, Bella Brownwood, Jenica Hierman, Olivia Chamberlain, Willow Muir and Vanessa Christdahl.

Reagan maintains a tradition of using multicultural music for her WinterDance pieces, and was looking for a work to accompany her Kwanzaa theme for 2009 concert. She wanted “Abduke,” recorded by the group Bakka Beyond on Putumayo’s first CD produced for children. She had borrowed a copy from the Nevada County Library, but wanted her own.

The CD is out of production.

“I inquired of Putumayo,” Reagan said. In the process, she notices a link on the record label’s Web site for a dance contest, enlisted the help of People with Cameras to record a video of the girls, and sent it in.

“We won the contest!” Reagan recalled. Their prize was 17 Putumayo CDs – the label’s entire collection for children.

Putumayo World Music, started in 1975, brings rhythmic compositions from around the world to a contemporary audience. It sells its releases through a proprietary network of more than 3,000 book, gift, clothing, coffee and other specialty retailers in the United States and abroad, according to the company Web site.

Those prize CDs now are in Moving Ground’s lending library.

“It’s added such richness and variety to our music at the studio,” Reagan said.

Reagan looks forward to at least one more chapter in the story: She’s hoping her little troupe could perform with Bakka Beyond next time the band comes to WorldFest at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

To contact City Editor Trina Kleist, e-mail or call (530) 477-4230.

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