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Scores turn out for Jackson charity dance
As scores of adoring fans stepped into the klieg lights of Club Yuma Fitness and Sports Center they learned to "moonwalk" like the "King of Pop" while the Michael Jackson Charity Night raised funds for terminally ill children Friday.
The concept was the brainchild of Nancy Patterson, Club Yuma director who was really inspired by Michael Jackson's memory, she said. For a $10 cover charge more than 50 dancers, "cut the rug" to the strains of Jacko's videos as Patterson and her crew taught fans how to get their groove on in the spirit of Michael Jackson.
All proceeds go to Gotta Dream, the Arizona-based charity patterned after the Make-A-Wish foundation that fulfills the dreams of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
"We knew how much people loved Michael and knew they'd come out," Patterson said. "But this is all about community and we're keeping all donations local. So we're continuing Michael's legacy because he donated millions of dollars to charity and so we're trying to follow in his footsteps."
Brigitte Lundy, a Club Yuma instructor, talked dancers through the paces of Jackson's "zombie dance" before pumping up the volume of "Thriller" to make it easier for them to pick up on the steps, she said.
"I try to bring out each individual's personality and make them more confident as dancers. Hopefully they catch on to some of Michael's moves. You start off copying. But the goal is, you always want to make it your own."
Lundy, who teaches kid's hip-hop dance in the day, said she is ecstatic to be part of a club that is a family and that all the staff and members are a "tight" unit.
Christopher Smart, 15, a Kofa high School sophomore agreed, as he admitted he got swept up in the tide of the good vibes Club Yuma exuded with their Michael Jackson Charity Night.
"It's a lot of fun here even though I'm not much of a fan."
Smart was initiated to the event by club member and classmate Santos Rangel, also 15. Santos said he spotted a poster announcing the gig and had to bring his boon companion to share the fun.
Santos said Club Yuma instructors were really sharp and nearly as good as the Michael Jackson videos. Santos added, he wanted to attend one of Jackson's concerts but sadly the singer died in June, before Santos had the chance but he will always remember Jackson as a great humanitarian.
"Like Michael always said, 'before you judge me, try to love me.'"
Dressed in a Michael Jackson felt fedora and a chic silk scarf, Club Yuma instructor Lisa Nelson shouted for her dancers to "gimme some of that attitude." Nelson said she was trying to rally everyone to kick it up a notch as the opening bars of "Beat It" came blaring through the speakers.
"It's a confrontational song. It's kind of mad. And I was just trying to get all of them (dancers) to get into the atmosphere. They've all done pretty well so far."
Nelson added that all the club's attendees showed potential, even if they do not win a spot on "So You Think You Can Dance."
"It's all about getting active and staying in shape. And there's no better way to do it than dancing to Michael's music."
William Roller can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858.