Dynamic Dancers group after they practice with Denise Baller from Dancing with Denise (pictured on the far right) for their June 3 recital in Webster, New York. Loraine “Pat” Richards, the group’s coach, is pictured in the back far left.
All photos courtesy of Perdita Stapleton.
The Dynamic Dancers are so much more than a dance group. They are a part of an active mission of their group’s president, leader and matriarch, Loraine “Pat” Richards. She gathers her girls together to build confidence, team work and self-esteem while exposing them to the world through the vehicle of dance.
“I’ve always wanted to start a traveling dance group. As a member of the St. John Carnival Committee for several years in pageantry, I knew I could easily find choreographers to help create dance moves for my girls,” said Richards.
“In the end, the girls and I combined their individual talents, including gymnastics to create their dances.”
Richards started the dance group with seven girls. One of the first trips she took her dancers to was to Puerto Rico to familiarize them with another culture. The exposure gave the girls a greater appreciation of family and helped Richards to the decide to commit to the challenge of leading the girls towards excellence with the help of their parents.
Now, the Dynamic Dancers have twenty-two girls ranging from ages three to thirteen years old and growing. Richards does not turn away any girls who may have interest in joining the group. She encourages the girls to remember the Dynamic Dancers motto, “We are one group! We are sisters! We rule the world!”
Richards is committed to her dance students and wants to make sure they work hard at their education. With their parents’ permission, she checks up on her dancers at school. Most of them are on the honor roll, but it is not a requirement for being a part of the Dynamic Dancers.
It is important to Richards to teach the girls to give back to their community. To date, the girls have prepared and shared care-packages for the homeless of St. John; participated in a trash pick-up program sponsored by the Department of Tourism; planted mangroves at the University of the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas campus) with the Marine Biology Department and contributed their time annually to the St. John Cancer Fund.
For this year’s, Light Up the Night fundraiser for St. John Cancer Fund, one of the girls carried the torch on the parade route to the Winston Wells Ball Field. The girls continued to participate by walking laps around the field to raising funds and awareness for cancer victims and survivors until it was their turn to perform.
During their performance, there was a huge down pour of rain. Richards was concerned about one of the girls who was not feeling well. When asked why they continued dancing in the rain, the young dancer responded, “the [cancer] survivors were watching and those who were not watching were up in the sky crying. So, we had to dance for them.”
The Dynamic Dancers have performed at many events on St John. A few of their recent performances took place at St. John Arts Festival in February, the Governor’s Christmas 2016 Party and Coral Bay’s Annual Bizarre Bazaar last December.
As a traveling dance group, they are pleased to have been invited to Webster, New York this summer by Denise Baller, owner of Dancing with Denise. Denise and her family were recently on island for over a week helping to prepare the Dynamic Dancers for a dance number in the upcoming recital “Under the Sea”.
Fourteen of the older girls, chaperones and Richards will travel for the June 3 recital in Webster, NY. The girls will be performing to the Calypso song, “My House” by Farmer Nappy. The girls will be in New York for a week, May 31 through June 7.
During their visit, the girls will participate in several other activities. Denise has planned for the Dynamic Dancers to perform at the family owned water park, Sea Breeze, before enjoying the parks many water rides and slides. The Seneca Park Zoo is their next stop before culminating their activities at the famous Niagara Falls.
Before the group’s invitation by Dancing with Denise, the group planned a Caribbean cruise which includes some of the younger girls not traveling to Webster. Richards hopes to keep her promise to make the cruise happen.
The Dynamic Dancers and their families have been working hard to raise money through food, cake and water sales. Sponsorships and/or donations are needed to make the team trips possible.
For those interested in supporting the Dynamic Dancers, stop by their fundraising Cake Sale this Saturday, April 29 at the Marketplace in Cruz Bay. The girls will also be hosting a fundraising water sale on Saturday, May 6 in Franklin Powell Sr. Park.
To make contributions, contact Loraine “Pat” Richards or Lydia Baxter at the contact information below.
Loraine “Pat” Richards: 340-626-4804 Lydia Baxter: 340-513-9934
Checks can be made out to: Dynamic Dancers, P.O. Box 999, St. John, Virgin Islands 00831.
Dynamic Dancers is a non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.