Typically, around 20 professional dancers grace the stage during an Of Moving Colors performance. They dance in modern and contemporary styles, showcasing advanced movement.
But once a year, the performers on stage get larger in number and smaller in stature. For its annual show “Kick It Out,” Of Moving Colors invites local children around Baton Rouge to perform onstage with professional dancers. They trade the company’s usual contemporary choreography for a full-scale theatrical dance production.
The show is celebrating its 10th birthday this year with an “Around the World” theme, bringing music and tradition from 10 countries to the Red Stick.
The company, along with around 100 guest performers, prepares for the production for about three months. The professional dancers are each tasked with choreographing a different age group, working with them multiple times a week to prep for the January performance.
As Of Moving Colors Artistic Director Garland Goodwin Wilson explains, the show began as a way to get the company involved in the community.
“I have always been passionate about connecting the community with the artists of the city,” Wilson says, thinking back to the event’s beginnings in 2009. “We were doing outreach for children all around the city at that time, but we didn’t really have a master project. We decided this would be a great way to bring the community further into our organization and our organization into the community.”
Her late mother Margaret Goodwin was a big supporter of the organization, and her love for entertainment of the 1950s helped inspire this large production incorporating character jazz dance styles and children of all dance abilities.
From the start, “Kick It Out” has offered children in Baton Rouge—regardless of background, ability or funding—the chance to dance alongside pros. The first production began with about 33 children and has grown on all fronts. Wilson explains the number of dancers, caliber of each performance, and the scale of the production has steadily grown since the program began, along with the size of the audience.
“Many of the children that started with us 10 years ago are still with us today,” Wilson says. “We basically have watched these children grow into young adults over a decade.”
Kerrington Griffin is a great example. She danced in “Kick It Out” years ago as a child performer. Now she is on the other side as an apprentice dancer, performing and working as a teaching assistant to the professional dancers. She is the first former student to dance with the professional company, and Wilson says it’s something that makes her more motivated to continue growing the organization.
But beyond the dancers, Wilson says the show benefits the audience. Besides it being one of Of Moving Colors’ most popular productions, viewers are able to see dance theater as an art form.
“I do believe that live art has a transformative power that affects a city,” Wilson says. “Many people say that art is just the icing on the cake, but I would have to argue that it’s the sugar in the cake that holds us all together.”
This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.