With the Olympics quickly approaching, all of the attention is focused on the athletes as they push themselves to earn gold. But it isn't just athletes that will be making the trip to London in a few weeks. Pottstown Dance Theater owner Michelle Wurtz and 22 of her hand-picked dancers will be attending the 2012 Summer Olympics to help entertain the crowds.
Wurtz has spent much of her life dancing. Her older sister participated in dance as a youth and Wurtz followed her footsteps. It was suggested by her doctor that she take up dance as a cure for a foot issue and after one class, Wurtz fell in love with dancing. She went to a performing arts college, the University of Arts, and majored in dance. When she graduated, she had the highest GPA for dancers. After college, Wurtz lived in Belgium for a while, which helped her understand European cultures, so when she started returning to Europe, it was 'not as much of a culture shock.'
Wurtz has taken nine trips in as many years to different European countries to share American arts and learn about the dancing culture in those countries. Her most recent trip was to Poland, from which she just returned from a few days ago. 'It's good for us to see what's going on in Europe and vice versa,' Wurtz says of the importance of teaching the American arts to Europeans. According to Wurtz, Europeans are like 'sponges' when it comes to learning about American arts culture. 'They treat artists the way we treat sports stars,' Wurtz said.
How a dance crew from Pottstown, PA got to the Olympics is almost an Olympic-sized accomplishment in itself. A search committee from the American Alliance of Performing Arts Educators heard of Wurtz's work and sent her a letter, requesting that she come to London. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance that is 'such a cool opportunity for students.'
Now she and her dancing entourage are preparing for their August 6 departure to the Olympics. The group consists of 18 girls and four boys and according to Wurtz, they are 'the only group to have a break dancer.' The selected dancers started practicing in January of this year, an hour and a half, three times a week to get ready. The reason for the long practices is because the dancers will be giving a half-hour non-stop performance called Evolution of Dance, with 11 different styles of dance being demonstrated. The dance types include African, ballet, modern, Irish, step, tap and musical, theater, jazz, hip-hop, and break dancing. There will be substitutions throughout the performance, so everyone will have a chance to rest and then everyone will be on the floor for the finale.
In addition to dancing, the group will be taking a walking tour around London, including a visit to Buckingham Palace. It's a short distraction before getting back to the task at hand, which is making sure that their dance routine is ready to go for the world.