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Community Sends Off Girls to 'Dance for Joy' in London [Photos, Video]

The dancers at the ballet school Dance for Joy in Mohegan Lake will perform at the London Invitational Dance Festival this week, Aug. 4 and Aug. 5.

While Mohegan Lake is the proud home of one Olympian – field hockey player  – she won't be the only local in London this week. 

in Mohegan Lake will be performing at the , taking place at the same time as the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The trip was coordinated by the , which recognized the Yorktown studio as a distinguished dance studio and approved the company's inclusion into the festival following an audition in 2010 at Lincoln Center.

'Dance for Joy' director Roberta Humphrey found out about the honor when she received a letter from the AAPAE in September 2009. Since then the girls have been rehearsing and fundraising to afford the trip. 

Friends and family celebrated the girls and give them a proper send off before they left for London Tuesday night. During the dress rehearsal, the dancers showed off what numbers they had been rehearsing for months. 

"It is very exciting," Humphrey said of the trip. "We still do not believe it."

To prepare for the dance festival, the girls had several performances throughout the year and a company class followed by rehearsal every Saturday. Humphrey said the dancers will be performing one new piece and five others they had already been performing. Now, everyone is looking forward to being in London where people from all over the world have gathered. 

"We are more than excited to have this opportunity to perform on a world stage," Humphrey said. "We have no idea how many people will be watching, but every performance is a great experience, whether it be for a nursing home or on a stage in London. My hope is that the girls will indeed 'Dance for Joy.'"

In London, the troupe will be performing at Warwick Castle on Saturday, Aug. 4, and on a stage in Island Gardens, which is a park on the Thames River, on Sunday, Aug. 5.

The six numbers the girls will be performing are: Coffee in a Cardboard Cup (musical theater), Dreams (ballet), Kaleidoscope (contemporary ballet), Imagine (ballet incorporating sign language), Springtime (ballet), That’s Entertainment (rockette type kickline number).

Among the dancers is 14-year-old Rose Grace, who is Yorktown supervisor Michael Grace's daughter. The student has been dancing with 'Dance for Joy' for the last 10 years and is looking forward to going to London and making people happy through her dancing. 

"I feel like it's a good place to get out all of your emotions and get an exercise while you're having fun," Grace said of what she loves about performing.

Samantha Nelson, a 15-year-old student at , said she has been dancing since she was 2 years old. It's a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to go to London during the Olympics and perform at a dance festival, she said.

'Dance for Joy' is a ballet school that is dedicated to the commitment that ballet can be a wonderful part of every child’s life, Humphrey said. 

"We have girls who are all sizes and shapes, they dance at a very high level, but they also have lives outside of dance," she said. "My company girls are a most wonderful group and I think it is because they are well rounded young people that they truly perform with joy and happiness."

The money collected through fundraising would cover each girl's land package, while each girl has to pay for her airfare on her own, Humphrey said. Organizers have held dinners, wine tastings, sold ads for their Nutcracker performances and  to the company. The girls have raised more than $50,000.

The following girls are members of Dance For Joy and will be going to London: 

Carmel- Geena Caporale

Cortlandt Manor- Alexandria Bernardin, Emily Bilotti, Jessica Boyle, Elizabeth Bynum, Samantha Confalone, Suly Cox, Cara Murray

Crompond- Rose Grace

Garrison- Leora Matalon

Mahopac- Deanna Myskiw

Mohegan Lake- Ayanna Louise Gibson, Kayla Dustin, Rozie Kwechin, Samantha Nelson, Victoria Velazquez

Putnam Valley- Emily Azcue, Holly Jones, Morgan McNamara, Eva Rabson, Amelia Spittal, Mariana Silva

Shrub Oak- Emily Cregan, Olivia Nygard, Erin Spedaliere

Yorktown Heights- Julie de Marte, Jamie Griffin, Meaghan Kaiser, Isabel Keane, Jenna Kelly, Marianne LaCalamito, Kaitlin Lecce, Eleanor Lougee-Heimer, Carly Negrelli, Jenna Schneider, Lauren Scinto 

Dance for Joy is located at 1893 East Main St. in Mohegan Lake. For more information call 914-526-4486.

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Marianne Oros August 01, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Congratulations and good luck to Dance for Joy and their young dancers-- it's a terrific dance studio.
lynn August 01, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Congratulations to Roberta and all the dancers what an honor. Good luck!!
Cindy Rubino August 01, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Congratulations to Miss Roberta and all the Company girls!!! It is a fabulous dance studio and it is a truly well-deserved honor for you all!

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