Dance Force honored with concert, award ceremony

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The Dance Force dance troupe won first place in the 2015 Bud Billiken Parade, and are being honored Saturday night in Chicago. (WLS)

Some young Chicago dancers are getting ready for their own concert and award ceremony. Dance Force won first place in the 2015 Bud Billiken Parade dance team category.

They are show-stoppers for sure; a dance company that represents students at 40 different Chicago schools. Together they are an award-winning team of young people who bring pride to everything they do.

Four nights a week kids ages four through 17 from all across the city gather at in a his Wrightwood neighborhood dance studio to practice what they call their passion and their family.

"It's not just a dance group, it's a family. It's like, we go places together, we travel together, we do everything together, we win shows, we are one," says Jeanettie Merchant, Dance Force head captain.

Dance Force has been around for more than a decade. They beat out hundreds of others and by being named best dance group in 2015's Bud Billiken parade.

"Because of the energy that they have, their commitment not only to dancing but also to all the other activities," said Marc Stengstacke, executive director of Chicago Defender Charities.

The parade has long symbolized the return to school and has sent a message of peace, which is something the group takes seriously.

"We make sure that homework is being done, the whole 9 yards when it comes to school. It's more dedication. If you want to dance then you got do good in school," says Kentrele Schipp, Dance Force program director.

"Us as children we need to get out of the street and start doing things that's positive. So I feel like dance is positive," says Keenan Coleman, Dance Force boys captain.

Artistic Director Matthew Thomas runs a tight ship and but he welcomes all children of all abilities.

"We've seen them grow, go through puberty, and learn and get better and start off with two left feet and end up with these amazing performances now," Thomas says.

And he's also taught them about leadership.

"I lead by example. I tell everyone when they're wrong, I make sure that everyone is doing what they're supposed to be doing including myself," says Taylor Williams, Dance Force co-captain.

"Dance Force is a good team, we get along sometimes, we like play around and then we get right back to work," says Jakayha Seals, Baby Force captain.

Members say they plan on keeping their No. 1 title for a while.

"We hold our heads high of what we can do and what we are capable of doing," Merchant says.

Saturday night the students who make up Dance Force will be honored for their year of hard work. They will be receiving some very special awards and they will be showing off some of the moves that got them that first place title in the Bud Billiken Parade. Plus there will be a sneak-peak at some of their new work.

It's all at Lindblom High School and ABC7's Jim Rose will be hosting.

Related Topics:
societydanceawardbud billikenstudentschicago public schoolscommunityChicago - West Englewood
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