A few years ago a family of four moved to Costa Rica, and began their new life.  But the mom found that she wanted more great activities for her kids to enjoy, so she decided to reach out and create them.  Which were the humble beginnings of a fabulous community project found in the Pacific Southern Zone called Jungle Dance.

Kelly shares about her journey to creating something really awesome in her community.

What started this project?

When my family and I moved here in 2009, there really wasn’t much in the way of after-school activities for the children. Before we moved, I was working for the YMCA teaching kids fitness, swimming, and gymnastics. I love kids, every job I have ever had has been working with children. They fill my heart with happiness! In my former life, I taught environmental education for years with the National Audubon Society, and the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center.

What is your vision?

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Jungle Dance uses a combination of many styles such as hip hop, jazz, world dance, and free style. We use the music to find our inner rhythm, learn how to move our bodies in different ways, follow set choreography, follow our own natural movement, and most importantly have FUN!

What have you accomplished so far?

Jungle Dance has definitely grown over the last 6 years, and I’m proud of the kids and how far we have all come. Our first performance was in the small room at Iglesia de la Costa in Uvita, and then we moved on to what is now Ballena Bistro just outside of Uvita.  This will be our 3rd or 4th year performing at Roca Verde located just outside of Dominical.

Your successes and challenges so far? 

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Successes? Pulling off a great show every year! We are thankful for the years that Iglesia de la Costa let us use their room in Uvita. This year we moved into Starlight Studio in Dominical. Hardwood floors, mirrors, and a great location! We share space with Happy Feet Ballet, Fitness Vida, The Perfect Space, and more. There is something for everyone, adults and kids.

Challenges are abundant in the jungle…as a home-school mom, it can be a challenge to find the time to create and choreograph 4 classes of dance to put on a great show. I love it though, and now I have my daughters help!

Why did you choose Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as the next project?

There really isn’t too much opportunity for acting and theater in this area for children. Last year my younger daughter said to me, “Mom, I want to play Veruca Salt.” And I thought why not? Let’s do it!!! All the stars aligned. I met a family in Texas who just happened to have a script for me.  Then I was fortunate enough to meet Sharon Boucher, who lives in Ojochal part-time. She has two theater production companies in Los Angeles, and she had just produced Willy Wonka!! She helped me cast the show, gave all the kids some singing and acting training.  What a gift to have her! Unfortunately she is not here this time of year, but we are looking forward to her return mid-December.

jungle Dance in Costa Rica
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The Jungle Dance version of Willy Wonka is not your typical production. I chose not to follow any rules, and just go for it. We are a dance group, and that is all we have been until now. The audience will have to use their imagination. We are a small company that doesn’t really have access or funds to create big sets, and special microphones and lights, etc. Normally I keep things very low budget, and so we make and create our costumes. This year we did get excited to theme the show with Wily Wonka costumes, but I still try hard to make it affordable. That is important to me.  There are lots of dance performances in the show of course, and now my students are getting a great experience at acting and singing.

What do you still need to make this happen? 

More time!? We all have busy schedules, so fitting in enough time for rehearsal can be tough! The kids need to practice their lines and songs at home, and we have been meeting on Mondays and Saturdays for dance rehearsals. I will definitely need the help of all the parents to help pull this off, come show time.

How can people get involved? 

I welcome all help! Anyone with theater, singing, or dance experience is welcome to get involved. It takes a village right?

How can people get their tickets? 

Tickets are c2,000. They can be purchased at Starlight Studio in Dominical on Monday and Tuesday afternoons, or they will be available at the door at Roca Verde on the night of the performance.  The dance performance will be held on December 3rd at 4pm.

Any ideas, or projects in mind for the future? 

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Sharon Boucher who owns 2 theater production companies in Los Angeles will be back early next year, and the two of us are collaborating on a production of “Grease”. She will direct, and I will choreograph. Tentative date is set for June 14, 2016. Mark your calendars. Having Sharon here to work with our kids is such a great opportunity! Willy Wonka is just a warm up!

What are your closing thoughts? 

More than anything else, I just want the kids to have fun! I ask them to focus, practice, and work hard.  But enjoying themselves, and finding the freedom to express themselves through dance is way more important than perfection.

Be sure to mark December 3rd on your calendar, and come out for a really great evening in Dominical.  You can contact Kelly at [email protected] and 8301-5713.

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