Dancers from Stanley’s Danse Élan Dance Academy will perform “The Glasswinged Butterfly” next Saturday at Denver’s Rock Springs Nature Preserve. All proceeds from the performance will benefit Hesed House of Hope, Lincoln County’s only homeless shelter.
It’s not just any dance recital. The performance was adapted from the children’s book of the same name by academy owner Jamie Roumayah. It is not performed on a stage with a still audience. Like so many butterflies, dancers drift along the nature trail at Rock Springs Nature Preserve performing vignettes along the way.
In the book, written by Helene Pam and illustrated by Sheleen Lepar, a transparent butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. She first dances with other more colorful butterflies, then realizes that she is different from them, not as colorful or as beautiful. The glass-winged butterfly goes on a journey, meeting other animals along the way, slowly acquiring their colors in its wings.
She first encounters a red bird, then lions, a frog, then dolphins. Over time, all the colors that have been added to its wings make the butterfly too heavy to fly. A rain comes and washes the colors. The butterfly learns that true beauty comes from within. There really are transparent glass-winged butterflies in nature. They are common in Mexico, Panama and Colombia and can be found as far north as Florida.
Roumayah and her family moved to North Carolina five years ago. This is not her first dance studio, and in previous studios she periodically held charity shows. At Dance Élan, she formed the contemporary youth company Danse Élan.
“Part of our mission is to provide educational experiences for our dancers,” she said. “In addition to this, we provide non-competitive performance opportunities for the benefit of women and children in our community. Just before COVID hit, we did a stage adaptation of “The Giving Tree”. I didn’t own the studio at the time, but I ran the company. We collected supplies and money for the Hope House Foundation in Huntersville.
Hesed House was recommended by the parent of one of Roumayah’s students.
“I didn’t even know Hesed House,” she said. “This family volunteers and raises funds for them. I wanted to do something this year for an organization that serves the women and children of Lincoln County. That’s what I liked about the Hope House Foundation, it’s a similar concept to Hesed House.
The children dancing in the show are extremely enthusiastic about using their gifts and talents to help others, Roumayah added.
The Glasswinged Butterfly will be presented on Saturday, October 2 at 1 p.m. at Rock Springs Nature Preserve, located at 6684 Pine Ridge Drive in Denver, from the outdoor classroom. There is excellent signage with directions. Tickets have no fixed price – whatever amount the buyer wishes to pay and are available online at https://www.danselan.com/tickets or by calling (980) 247-0475. All proceeds benefit Hesed House of Hope. The 1 p.m. performance is already nearly sold out, so Danse Élan has added an additional performance at 2 p.m. This is not a seated show – the audience will have to follow the dancers to watch the show. The paths are paved so it is wheelchair accessible. There is ample parking but get there early as there is a five to 10 minute walk to the start of the performance.