East Bay dancers kick in with teamwork


Dance instructors encouraged each of their girls to walk with confidence, deliver high kicks and show “big teeth” in hope that they will win the upcoming National Dance Week competition.

In recognition of the 85th anniversary of the legendary Rockettes dance troupe, six local dance studios teamed up on Friday, Nov. 23 to make a video they’ll submit for a competition for National Dance Week. For their selected category, the longest kick line, approximately 160 girls ages 9 and older, met at Colt State Park where their routine was videotaped for the nationwide competition.

“We wanted to show a collaborative effort among the six schools in the Bristol Warren area,” said Lisa Carissimi, director of Danceworks in Bristol. “Team work. That’s what being a Rockette is all about,” she said.

The girls and their instructors from Danceworks, Shannon’s Studio of Dance, the Ballet Center, and Extensions School of Dance from Bristol, and Just Dance of Warren, and Rosemary’s School of Dance Education with studios in Warren and Tiverton worked individually on the choreography of the two and a half minute kick line routine for weeks leading up to the taping, hoping they would all be in synch collectively. Since none of the studios could accommodate such a long stretch of young women kicking in unison, they needed to find a place to perform the feat.

“We wanted to do it at a football game, but by the time we were ready, there were no more home games,” Ms. Carissimi said.

The Thanksgiving Day game could have been an option since it was played in Bristol, but too many of the girls had holiday plans and wouldn’t be able to make it.

Colt State Park on the balmy day after Thanksgiving was the next best choice.

Before the actual taping, the instructors, including Ms. Carissimi, Shannon DeFusco, Garance Nienhuis, Sherry Winn, Michelle Spina and Bethany Medeiros each spaced themselves along the line, leading the girls through the routine. When the videographer arrived, they took their places and, to a recorded tune beckoning the rhythm of the Charleston dance, the girls performed flawlessly, walking with confidence, kicking high and in unison and smiling brightly.

The digital recording will be submitted to the National Dance Week organization to be reviewed among the competition between Dec. 3 and 8.

“We’ll see what happens,” Ms. Carrissimi said.

kick line


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.