February 01, 2012 - Jonelle Pariseau has a lifelong passion for dance and she wishes to share it with children and teens who want to experience it all from practice to performance, but don't have the financial means to make their dream come true.
Jonelle Pariseau (center), a 2006 OHS graduate, is hoping to start a free dance program for 10 deserving youths. With her are two of the young ladies who would participate in this program, OHS junior Cecilia Wonch (left) and Daniel Axford kindergartner Zoe Siglow. The other young lady is Jonelle’s sister, Lauralei Pariseau, a junior at OHS. Both Cecilia and Lauralei are on the OHS dance team. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
"I've been working hard to pass on an appreciation for dance not only as an art, but as part of a rounded childhood experience," said the 2006 Oxford High School graduate.
That's why she wants to start Kids In Dance Succeed (KIDS), a program that will provide free weekly dance instruction to 10 youths, ranging in age from 7 to 17, who can't afford the cost of lessons, costumes and a recital.
"To participate in traditional dance programs, it takes a lot of capital," Pariseau explained. "For kids who don't have it, it's hard to know they can't be a part of something like that."
Dance programs usually involve tuition ranging from $100 to $500 per month (depending on the level of involvement), plus about $100 for a costume and $20 to $50 in miscellaneous recital fees, according to Pariseau.
The culmination of the KIDS program would be a community performance at which the dancers would showcase their skills and enjoy the thrill of being in the spotlight. This would take place in late summer.
"Kids get so excited when they get to go on stage and perform," said Pariseau, who owns Studio 8 Dance Arts Center of Southeast Michigan, located in Oxford Township. "They feel such a sense of accomplishment. It will give them a chance to bond as a team." In order to get her KIDS program off the ground, Pariseau needs to raise a total of $900.
"The $900 pays for anything that we would need for the performance (such as venue, music, stage lighting and costumes) at the end of the program," Pariseau explained.
The instruction, choreography and practice space will all be donated by Pariseau and her supporters.
She's currently collecting contributions through the Kickstarter website (www.kickstarter.com), which helps people obtain funding for all types of projects involving music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.
"They serve as the host, so to speak, for your project," Pariseau said.
Basically, anyone who wants to donate to the KIDS project can visit the Kickstarter website, learn more about it and make a contribution via their credit card.
"You have 45 days to reach your goal," Pariseau said. "If you don't reach that goal, you don't get any money at all. Those who have pledged, their credit cards aren't charged."
As of early Wednesday morning, Pariseau had raised $679 of her $900 goal. She must receive the rest by 11:34 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. "If I don't get the funding, I can't start the whole process," she said.
As someone who's been dancing since age 3, Pariseau knows firsthand how it can enhance kids' lives and set them on the path to success later in life.
She said dance helps improve social and teamwork skills, refine motor skills, sharpen critical thinking, promote physical fitness and build self-confidence.
"They learn a lot from it," said Pariseau, who's served as coach, choreographer and mentor to the Oxford High School dance team.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.