Taylorsville youth dance company plays the Mid-Valley main stageDec 04, 2022 11:27AM ● By Carl Fauver
Hailey Thomas, Whitney Boyle, Lyla Mitchell and Clara Hedquist (L-R) were among the dozens of dancers – including several moms and dads – who performed on the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center main stage recently with the Taylorsville-based Express Dance Company. (Mindy Dearden)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
All those coronavirus-delayed years we watched Salt Lake County’s Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center rise from the ground next to Taylorsville City Hall, we knew the $45 million structure would eventually be home to lots of entertainment activities. We knew, for instance, the Taylorsville Arts Council would take advantage of it to host many of their shows.
But it wasn’t immediately clear just how much MVPAC could provide a thrill for other young performers – until Stefanie Bassett rented the main stage for the girls who make up her Express Dance Company.
“It was such an amazing experience for the girls and their families,” Bassett said. “The (MVPAC) facility was awesome. Putting our dancers in such an exciting venue was so much fun. We called the performance ‘Panic! At the PAC 2022.’ And we’ve already reserved our date for ‘Panic! At the PAC 2023’ for next October.”
About 60 people performed during Express Dance Company’s hourlong show, including several enthusiastic adult women and a handful of (possibly less enthusiastic) dads.
Krista Rudd was in the audience to watch her daughter Megan, 11, dance with her dad, Marshall.
“Megan has been dancing with Stefanie for about three years,” Rudd said. “We’ve had her in other studios. But we’ve enjoyed our experience with (Express Dance Company) the most. Stef really gets to know the girls. Megan had a little solo in one of her dances. She wasn’t thrilled about it. But Stef calmed her down, encouraged her – and Megan crushed it.”
Megan also added, “I think Stefanie is really nice; she helps you do your best.”
A 2001 Hunter High School graduate, Stefanie has been dancing nearly her entire life.
“I have danced since age 3 and have taught dance since I was 15,” Bassett said. “I was a member of the Hunter High (Silhouettes) drill team for three years. Later I was on the Utah Valley University Dance Team. We competed in the national finals in Florida two times. Dance is truly like oxygen for me. It’s a void that I need to fill. And I believe dance is for everyone – not just certain body types. It’s for anyone who wants to exercise and be social.”
Another parent who likes how Bassett approaches things is Shawna Harmon, whose daughter Amelia, 9, has been in the Express Dance Company for three years.
“Stefanie is so good with the girls – she listens to their needs and is very attentive when she speaks with them,” Harmon said. “Just before the (MVPAC) show, she gathered the kids together to give them a great pep talk. She wants them to improve – but is very positive. All the girls were so proud to perform on a big stage, with the spotlights and a crew working backstage. This was Amelia’s first time to perform before an audience. It was wonderful – the best recital I’ve ever attended.”
“I have learned so many new dance moves and my technique has improved,” Amelia Harmon added. “Stef is kind and helpful – and knows how to dance.”
Stefanie Bassett also volunteers as a member of the Taylorsville Arts Council. About the time she got her Express Dance Company up and running the “first time,” COVID-19 showed up.
“We practiced outside at the park during COVID – and we did put on Halloween shows, but outdoors,” Bassett added. “We’re continuing to rebuild the program. My focus with the kids is not on being perfect. It’s more about helping them learn to dance what is in their heart.”
Express Dance Company will be pretty quiet through the December holiday season, resuming with weekly practice sessions starting in January. They will make use of the large Centennial Room inside MVPAC, with it’s long wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors.
“It is such a beautiful facility, and I am so grateful we can use it,” Stefanie added. “The girls can watch their techniques in the mirror. And they love being in such a fancy setting.”
Going forward, Bassett says she would be open to including boys in Express Dance Company. But, so far, she’s not had males or their parents show interest – even in her own family.
“I have six kids, ages 14 years to 18 months – but only one is a girl,” Bassett concluded. “Sofie is 6 and she’s my only dancer.”Meantime, if you are involved with another community group that would like to make use of the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center, rental information is available at saltlakecountyarts.org/venues/mid-valley-performing-arts-center/#rental-information