Dance school raises money for UNICEF at first-ever ‘Tap-A-Thon’

Performers at the Gervais School of Performing Arts watch themselves negotiate tricky combos in the studio's floor-to-ceiling windows at the first annual Tap-A-Thon on Saturady. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

A typical tap dance routine lasts four or five minutes, but a group of local tap dancers at the Gervais School of Performing Arts in Valencia danced and jived for over ten hours on Saturday night.

The school’s first annual Tap-A-Thon featured a group of studio regulars, dubbed the Dapper Tappers, who continuously tapped from 1:30 p.m. Saturday to 12 a.m. Sunday to raise money for UNICEF.

“This is our special event called the Tap-A-Thon,” said Joanne Gervais-Ainsworth, owner and lead teacher at the Gervais School of Performing Arts. “UNICEF has told us that all the money we raise today they will quadruple.” 

Kathryn Metcalf dances to a 1920’s themed tune at the Gervais School of Performing Arts’ first annual Tap-A-Thon in Valenia on Saturday. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

Dancing for ten-and-a-half hours is a nearly inhuman feat, and no individual performer danced for the entire duration. Rather, the studio took it in shifts – ensuring that at least one member was dancing at each passing moment.

Gervais-Ainsworth hoped that this massive undertaking would garner donations.

“Ten and a half hours is a long time so it seems to be worthy of a donation,” she said. “Three isn’t really worthy of a donation, maybe eight, but I think 10-and-a-half is definitely worth the donation.”

Ava Lopez raises her hands to the beat of the music at the Gervais School of Performing Arts’ Tap-A-Thon on Saturday night in Valencia. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

Procuring donations such as these is a cornerstone of the Gervais School’s philosophy.

“We don’t compete in dance competitions,” said Gervais-Ainsworth. “We do mostly community service. Our focus is doing service for others.”

The studio hoped to raise over $1,000 by the end of Saturday night.

The studio will donate this money to the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, which provides humanitarian relief to mothers and children in developing countries. Gervais-Atkinson cited a benefit concert that her school performed two years ago to raise funds for children affected by the civil war in Syria as a major influence on Saturday’s event.

“We don’t focus our performance efforts on winning awards for our own selves,” she said.

“We focus our performance efforts on raising money and awareness for other people.”



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