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YMCA Dance Recital Dazzles Crowd at Royal Life Center
6/2/2016 4:37:51 PM

Photo by Calvin Gathers

Photo by Calvin Gathers

Photo by Calvin Gathers

Photo by Calvin Gathers
By Kurt Walker

A capacity crowd of well over 1,300 spectators were in attendance of the 14th Annual Cannon Street YMCA Dance Recital Program this past Saturday at the Family Life Center at Royal Baptist Church in North Charleston. The dance program was developed by YMCA’s Artist Director, Myra Chamble Haney, a New York native who wanted to bring about change when she moved to Charleston. “I wanted to develop a program that would give our young ladies a chance to learn dance in a quality and affordable setting,” stated Haney.

When she began the program, its initial class had twenty-two students. This year's program started with 183 students, 160 of which toughed it out to perform in this past Saturday’s recital program. Dancers ranged in ages from three-year olds to eighteen and some of the numbers were not limited to female students as males joined in a few numbers. Haney has danced for over forty years of her life and has used the dance platform to impart several important life skills and lessons to her students. “It is my desire to teach discipline and education, a cultural education, and to be well-rounded,” said Haney.

The Cannon Street YMCA organization will be celebrating 150 years of service to the community this year and the dance program is one of its CEO’s, Paul Stoney, favorite programs. “The dance program along with several of our other programs such as the Y Prince and Princes, Y-Achievers, and or sports programs at our Cannon Street and Berkeley County location fosters and promotes our core principles in the positive development of not only our children, but parents and families as well,” stated Stoney.

Community Collaborations

The recital, due to its success, has outgrown many of its past locations. So much so that it has often had to spread the recital over two evenings to accommodate the crowd. “Presently, we only market to parents and families due to the fact that if we made tickets available to the public, it is likely that many family members would not be able to see the performance, and we try our best to keep it moderately priced so that it mains affordable,” stated Cedric Webber, Program Director of the Cannon Street Y. Moving the program to the recently-opened Family Life Center at Royal Baptist Church fit right into the plan of its Pastor, Reverend Isaac Holt. “When we built the Center, we envisioned it holding events such as this, that would be in the community and located where many of the families reside and can conveniently get to… and provide them a space with the quality and comforts that you find in venues located downtown and here in North Charleston,” stated Holt.

Dance Dads

Although mothers, aunts and grandmothers support and assist with the coordination and logistics of the program, several dads have stepped up to assist Haney and her staff. Darwin Grant has had his daughter Elizabeth in the program for nearly a decade and was on hand as a volunteer at Saturday’s performance. “We put down 1,300 chairs and look at the amount of people standing…this is a great program and to see the amount of people in support here at Royal is beautiful,” said Grant. Keith Jones was also on hand to support his daughter Imari and stole a glimpse of her when able, as he was busy ushering patrons to whatever seats became available during the two-hour performance.

“Now you know why you don’t see me on Saturdays…I’m at the Y either picking her up of dropping her off and sometimes staying to help out,” stated Jones. He also assists with directing traffic at the Y when students are being dropped off for rehearsals and making sure they get safely into the building facility. The program begins in September and runs for nine months culminating in the May recital.

How You Can Help

Although the program is successful on many levels, there are still some areas that can utilize your support. Venues that can house the recital are few and far in between in either size or cost effectiveness. The program is in need of sponsorships to offset facility costs and scholarships for the students to cover the monthly expenses. Rehearsal space is often sometimes an issue as the program has grown and can often conflict with other events at the Cannon Street location. The Y would like to continue to grow the program and not turn away any child if at all possible.

Please contact the Cannon Street YMCA at 843.577.9622 and online at

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