Rounis sports her "Feed Your Creativity" t-shirt, which was included for anyone who donated $20 or more.
Melena Rounis, a Cirque dancer in “The Beatles LOVE,” put on the third annual Step Up and Dance fundraiser on Nov.19, which raised more than $700 in a few short hours to help feed hungry families in Nevada.
Rounis’ recipe for this event has proven true over the years. For participants, it’s simple. Pay a $10 minimum donation and take your fill of half-hour-long master classes in a variety of styles. This year, teachers included Rounis herself, fellow Cirque dancers Katy Tate, Sheila Joy and Fred Odgaard, Tyrell Rolle of “The Lion King” and master locker Scoo B Doo. Around 50 people showed up to dance and donate.
Participants could pick and choose from the smorgasbord of styles, which spanned the genres from old-school hip-hop and locking to burlesque, jazz and funk. Dancers of all ages and with varying experience levels got down for a good cause and Rounis said she was thrilled with the turnout this year.
“I think this year was great because it had a perfect dynamic and a great number of people,” Rounis said. “There was space for everyone to dance, so I think every year has been a success. I’m not humble at all,” she continued, laughing.
Katy Tate, dance captain at “LOVE,” taught what she called a “Lil Wayne” contemporary combination and concurred with Rounis about the importance of outreach. “How great is it to be able to do what you love and support those in need?,” she asked.
Tate said that thinking of others is important for more than just charity. “If you’re thinking about yourself the whole time, you only have a fraction of a class,” Tate said, encouraging dancers to watch and learn from each other in dance classes.
Katy Tate combined classical movement with contemporary style in her combination to Lil Wayne's "How to Love."
Tyrell Rolle of “The Lion King” voiced a similar message during his funk class. “You shouldn’t be a one-sided dancer,” he said emphatically. “Whatever it is, commit to it.”
And Rounis, despite dancing 10 shows a week for Cirque, is committed to Step Up and Dance. Another workshop is taking place on Dec. 18 at Drive Dance Center in Vancouver, a dance studio Rounis co-founded. “I think it’s going to be huge,” Rounis said. “I’m already out of posters and fliers and they’ve only been promoting for a week! But that’s a good thing.”
Despite challenges of working around professionals’ schedules and organizing events remotely, Rounis said she has high hopes for the fundraiser in the future. “Honestly, since I’ve started this event, it just keeps getting better each year,” she said.
Although it might seem like a long time before the next Step Up and Dance event, check out the photos below in the meantime.