ADU brings talents, hearts to fundraiser for Family Promise

Excited about Artistic Dance Unlimited’s upcoming benefit performance for Family Promise are co-founders Alette Chase, left, and Ursula Margolis, right, with Kathi Parkins, center, Family Promise executive director.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Excited about Artistic Dance Unlimited’s upcoming benefit performance for Family Promise are co-founders Alette Chase, left, and Ursula Margolis, right, with Kathi Parkins, center, Family Promise executive director.

When young dancers from Artistic Dance Unlimited perform Wednesday, June 1, at the Clayton Center for the Arts, their actions will speak louder than words.

“We think it’s important to teach them that it’s not just about the competition, it’s not just about winning,” says Ursula Margolis, co-founder with Alette Chase of Artistic Dance Unlimited. “It’s about using your talent to give back to the community.”

Margolis and Chase also direct Artistic Dance Unlimited, a dance studio based at 314 Gill St. in Alcoa.

The 7 p.m. June 1 showcase is called “Dancing for a Cause: Family Promise of Blount County” and is a benefit for Family Promise, an agency that assists families affected by homelessness. Tickets are $15 at the Clayton Center box office and

Margolis and Chase had been thinking about organizing a dance concert as a fundraiser for a worthy cause for some time. They met with executive director Kathi Parkins and settled upon Family Promise less than eight weeks ago. The event has come together quickly and smoothly.

Chase says it’s as though they were “led” to form the partnership with Family Promise.

“We really wanted to do something for charity, and we really wanted to do something that will benefit children in the community,” she says. Chase was acquainted with Parkins through their church, Fairview United Methodist, which is a host church for Family Promise. So when she asked fellow church member and Blount Moms Today editor Sarah Herron to recommend a charity and Herron immediately replied, “Family Promise,” Chase knew, “OK, that’s it.”

Chase says it was an easy sell to the members of ADU’s competitive performance company.

“They are excited about doing this for Family Promise,” she says. “We talked with them about how these are children who don’t have their own bed to sleep in. Obviously, the children that we teach, they do have those luxuries of having their own home and having their needs provided for, and then on top of that they get to take dance lessons.”

Individuals and community groups also have stepped up with sponsorships. Blount Excavating and Dr. Brent Collins are gold sponsors. Other sponsors include Women’s Care Group, the Graves Family, Little Scholars Christian Academy, KenJo Markets, Maples & Vines Eye Center, Mike and Brenda Lewis, Cate Russell Insurance, Kevin and Chelly Clayton and Green Bank.

Margolis says about 55 dancers age 7 to 18 will participate in settings ranging from solos, duets and trios to the entire troupe. All of the dances are new this year, and the troupe has performed them at various competitions and the Fantasy of Trees.

“We’ve got a lot of diversity,” says Margolis. “There’s a lot of great choreography.

“We do have one dance that we’ll perform at the very end of the show that has all 55 dancers together on the stage. That’s our production number, ‘Night at the Museum.’”

Chase is excited about one number that seems especially appropriate for the program.

“One of my junior dance-company members does a solo to a song called ‘Dreamer,’ and that song is about a homeless child who is in a shelter and is dreaming of better days,” she says. Emma Grace Liner is the dancer in the piece, which Chase choreographed.

“It’s just funny how things worked out,” says Chase. “That was choreographed before we ever even entertained this idea of doing this charity event, and now we’re doing it for Family Promise. So I’m excited about that because that one truly is what Family Promise is about.”

Parkins is happy with the way Blount County has supported Family Promise without any kind of wheedling.

“Family Promise is incredibly blessed that while basically we’re not looking, there are organizations within our community who are seeking to help homeless families,” says Parkins. “We didn’t go out and solicit this. We aren’t going out there saying, ‘Hey, will you help us out and do a fundraiser for us?’

“They just see the need, and they answer the call. I think that’s incredible how those things just happen.”

Family Promise of Blount County has served 27 families, including 45 children, since opening its doors in June 2009.

“Now that we are more well-known in the community and work with other agencies, we get 35 to 45 phone calls in our office every month from families who are in a housing crisis,” says Parkins. “We stay full most of the time, with a waiting list.”

Last month, Family Promise became a United Way agency.

“They’re the wind beneath our wings,” Parkins says. “They lift us up, I feel like.

“It’s not just about the money; it’s about the affiliation with the United Way. Our United Way of Blount County has a very positive reputation and influence on a lot of people. Just being part of United Way is a very positive thing for Family Promise.”

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