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Not for Profit: Music in Motion

April 21, 2007 — Nineteen talented young ballerinas from St. Croix will spend part of their summer vacation on the mainland perfecting their dance skills at the Academy of Ballet Florida.
The gifted students from Music in Motion dance studio in Frederiksted auditioned for the academy's principal. Representatives of the academy were so impressed they accepted all of the students into their summer dance program. The academy accepts only 100 students from all across the nation into this program.
"Having our students now being accepted into international schools through the audition process proves that Music in Motion trains students for the professional world of dance," says Charlita Schuster, artistic director and dance company founder.
In January, Music in Motion sent an audition video of seven St. Croix dancers to the academy. Academy representatives were so intrigued with the video they came to St. Croix in March for a live audition and accepted all the girls in the young and gifted class ages nine and up.
The academy, located in West Palm Beach, has trained ballet students for 35 years. Their performance group, Ballet Florida, was founded 22 years ago. It is the only professional dance company in Palm Beach County.
Schuster founded Music in Motion in 1983 to provide local dancers with first-class ballet instruction. It's an accredited ballet school under the Vaganova Method, and Schuster is certified from the Philadelphia Academy of Ballet.
The dancers receive rigorous training in classical ballet at the studio, located at 7A Estate Whim. There are two instructors: Schuster and her daughter, Jah-Neisha Withey. Currently 134 girls are enrolled, ranging in age from three to 18. Some of the advanced students also study jazz, tap, modern, hip-hop and cultural dance such as African, quadrille, calypso and Spanish. According to Shuster, many of the girls plan on careers in dance.
The school and Schuster have gotten more notice in recent years because of their traveling troupe, Music in Motion Dancers. The group is made up of girls who, according to Schuster, "are dedicated and love to dance." The troupe performs at cultural events and ceremonies all over St. Croix.
Music in Motion is now in the process of raising funds for the girls to attend the program. The group is hoping to raise enough for tuition and lodging. Some funding is coming from the Law Enforcement Planning Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts and the V.I. Council on the Arts. The girls plan to do several food sales, popularity tickets and other types of events before their June 17 departure. The group will sell food at the Music in Motion annual Children's Spring Festival on May 19 beginning at 8 p.m. at Island Center. For further information or to make a donation, call 772-5440.
"Through local and stateside training, we are providing a base for local youth to pursue professional dance careers if they choose," Schuster says. "We have some very gifted students here that deserve the best training."
Eleven-year-old student Lili Taylor has danced most of her life.
"I have been dancing since I was three and I love it," she says. "I can't wait to go to ballet school in Florida! Without Music in Motion I would never have had this opportunity. I love this dance school."
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