April Thomas has always been passionate about dance. In 2009, while still living in Louisville, April started the Sassafras Dance Company. As her class schedule steadily grew, she had the idea to launch a performance troupe that would raise money for charitable causes. The troupe began performing as the Pink Ladies, raising money for breast cancer research. When April brought her company to Paducah in 2012, she didn’t know what to expect and was overjoyed by the financial support she received from the community.
Today, she and best friend Marci Paris are partners in this venture, teaching dance classes a few nights each week and introducing their dance troupe to audiences at charitable events all over the community. Though initially focused on raising funds for breast cancer related issues, the Pink Ladies are now part of a larger movement, raising money for all sorts of causes.
“Since opening the Sassafras doors, we have worked with lots of amazing non-profit organizations, helping contribute to their fundraising goals through performing, not only at their events, but hosting our own events, as well,” April says.
Excited and dedicated to their cause, Marci and April work closely with dance choreographer Kelly Davis to create shows that entertain audiences and inspire more people to open their pocketbooks for a good cause. Sometimes the inspiration for their choreography comes from surprising sources.
“Sometimes inspiration comes from weird places. It might come from a movie or a dream or even a color,” April says. “Even one song can inspire an entire show.”
Audiences enjoy a diverse group of amateur dancers, in all shapes and sizes, each sporting bold colors, sometimes including pink wigs, and an array of zany costumes. No one is left out.
“We don’t judge. We just want everyone to have a good time while they’re dancing,” April says.
April and Marci are overwhelmed by the generosity and support of the community. But it’s been the support of their families that has probably made them most successful.
“We both have supportive husbands who love music and love to help us with the shows,” April says. Marci has even seen interest budding in her own children, as her four year-old daughter Emma loves to mimic the moves she sees her mother practicing. Sassafras Dance Company holds classes at the Paducah Jazzercise studio located at 3420 Lone Oak Road on Monday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m
As interest has grown, they have added a class on Thursday nights at 7 p.m., called Dancin’ Divas designed for ladies over 40. They have also added children’s classes to the lineup through a sister organization called Fluid Performing Arts.
The group is hosting One Groovin’ Night, an event to raise funds for St. Jude’s Hospital on October 18 at 7 p.m. at Walker Hall. Entertainment will include performances by the Sassafras Dance Company and a contest to crown the person who is best at doing “the Hustle.” Guests are encouraged to dress in ‘70s garb. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at www.dancewithsdc.org.
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