Highlighting the creative efforts of 39 local dance students, the Chitwood Studio of Dance will hold its 48th annual recital at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Friday at Jacoby Auditorium on the Umpqua Community College campus.

The dancers, ages 7 to 18, will perform 16 dances from beginner to advanced levels of ballet, tap dancing and jazz.

Several of the dancers won a $1,000 first-place award for a Russian dance routine in the Acts 30 Talent Competition, sponsored by the Umpqua Valley Youth for Christ, held in March. They competed among 30 two-minute acts in front of a large crowd and three judges at the Roseburg High School Rose Theatre.

The major performance in this year’s recital is “Fresh Aires of Mannheim Steamroller,” a 17-minute original ballet that features ballerinas, jazz dancers and penguins. The performance will be directed by Susan Chitwood and will end at around 9:15 p.m.

Chitwood is a local resident who grew up in Roseburg and began her dance training at the age of 9 with the Ralph Patterson Roseburg School of Dance. She eventually taught ballet, jazz and tap at Patterson’s dance studio for five years before she ventured to New York City as a young woman to study dance at the School of the American Ballet. While there, she was asked to teach.

“That gave me all the confidence I needed to be a teacher,” Chitwood said.

But soon an illness in her immediate family caused her to return to Roseburg, where she again taught at Patterson’s dance studio for several years. She then opened her own Roseburg dance studio in 1969 and has been teaching ballet, jazz and tap dancing locally ever since.

Dance has been Chitwood’s passion her entire life. She prefers to teach beginning to advanced classes for children 7-years-old to adult, because they possess the seriousness required to learn the discipline.

She teaches dance classes six days a week at her studio, located at 3782 Hooker Road in Roseburg. She requires that all her students take at least two lessons of ballet each week in addition to any other dance classes, because she believes ballet is the basis of all dance.

Ballet is important to Chitwood because it provides excellent physical training while teaching students good posture and muscle alignment. Students also learn about music and how to move to music. Professional athletes, like football players, study ballet to learn coordination and muscle control.

“It’s a very strong discipline,” she said.

The Chitwood dancers will also performance at noon on Saturday at the Umpqua Valley Arts Association’s Summer Arts Festival.

After a week off, the Chitwood dance studio will continue with summer lessons from July 3 — 28. The studio will then take a month off in August and return to begin lessons again on Sept. 3.

Tickets for the two performances are $5 per seat and will be available at the door at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Friday at Jacoby Auditorium, 1140 Umpqua College Road, Roseburg.

For more information, call Susan Chitwood at 541-673-5792.

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Education and Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Vera Westbrook is the education, nonprofits, and arts and entertainment reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4216 or by email at vwestbrook@nrtoday.com.

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