To dream of dance

Before the applause for performing for an audience, dancers must sacrifice for their art. STARS OF TOMORROW. The Tutterow Dancers of Largo Parks, Recreation and Arts. pages 8-9

By Times Staff Writer
Published September 30, 2007

What does it take to be a Tutterow dancer? Passion, patience, dedication and a little bit of sacrifice, say students from the Largo studio.

It's a challenge to juggle school, homework and extracurricular activities with practices. But they say the rewards far outweigh the sacrifices. Whether they're performing ballet, tap, jazz or hip-hop, all the dancers enjoy the response they get from their audiences.

"I love dancing to the lyrics and feeling the music through my body and basically telling the story of the lyrics through my dancing," said Largo High School senior Amy Weisickle, 18.

The studio hosts classes for students ages 3 to adult. It has been affiliated with the Largo Recreation, Parks and Arts Department since 1976 and is named for founders Gayle and Phyllis Tutterow.

Next year, the group's performance company, the Tutterow Stars of Tomorrow, will head to Europe to perform for U.S. troops and study under professional ballet dancers in Germany.

On a recent Monday afternoon, the Stars dancers were at the Largo Community Center practicing their Rockettes-style kicks to work the kinks out of a routine they'll perform over the winter holidays.

For many of them, dance is a lifelong pursuit. Director Debbie Kennedy is in her 32nd year with Tutterow. Assistant director Mandy Beamer, 30, started dancing at the studio when she was 7. Several of the students have danced together for more than a decade.

"It feels like a family," said Seminole High senior Sam Aho, 17. "Everybody cares about you and what's going on with your life."

To learn more: For information, call 585-1232 or visit the Web site at www.tutterowdancers.com/default.aspx.