AYER -- When the Global Dance for Kindness -- an annual event with simultaneous participation by thousands of people in over 100 states and 50 other countries - comes to Ayer's Main Street on Sunday, Nov. 11, students from Page Hilltop Elementary School will be there, stepping up for the cause.
Start time is 1 p.m.
This marks the third year the school has signed up for this global event, ongoing for the past seven years under a shared banner: "One Day ... One Dance ... One Heart."
As in the past two years, Page Hilltop dancers will set the tempo with an original routine choreographed for the big day. Not the same as last year's, it's a debut performance with a new song.
Students who have signed up for the event are practicing with Alyssa Taft, a Page Hilltop paraprofessional and accomplished dancer who studied with the Boston Ballet. Others who register at www.danceforkindness.com/register can join in via an online dance tutorial. The fee is $10.
But this dance is a come-one-and-all kind of event. Any kind of dance will do and everybody's welcome to shake a leg for the cause, no skill or experience called for and registration is not required.
No dress code, either, but participants are urged to sport theme colors: orange and blue. Official tee shirts will be available for sale.
According to Page Hilltop Principal Fred Deppe, even the fee for practice session access can be waived if necessary. Life Vest Inside, the non-profit group that started the worldwide Kindness ball rolling and coordinates the global dance event, won't turn anyone away for "lack of funding," he said.
Deppe is an enthusiastic promoter for the Global Dance for Kindness and its overarching message and brought Page Hilltop into the official loop three years ago.
Now, he's made the message a mission at Page Hilltop, where kindness is more than a mantra; it's a school project, all year, every year.
Kind words, acts of kindness. A school-wide program includes activities, an annual school assembly. Signs and slogans pop up on the walls, in the classrooms. No student at Page Hilltop could miss it: Kindness is spoken here, in actions as well as words.
Interviewed recently in Kim Clapp's fifth-grade classroom, a group of girls who have signed up for the event shared their views. Some participated in previous years, sparking friendships that have grown since.
Only one of the fourth- and fifth-graders in the group cited dance creds. Marney Hoeske takes jazz and tap. The others -- Lorelai Levi, Olivia Choi, Jaiya Valentin-Chase, Tessa Marie Lanteigne and Marney's twin sister, Abby Hoeske -- said they just plan to get out there and dance.
Which doesn't discount dance lingo they learn to stay in sync, like "the slime move" and "the rainbow."
As they tell it, preparing sounds like half the fun, with pre-event perks such as practicing in big spaces, like the gym and performing at the Manchester Ice Rink.
"Last year was huge," they said. This year, 50 students have signed up so far but more may show up that day, like last year. "They just came."
It surprises them that Page Hilltop is one of the only schools in Massachusetts that is participating, if not the only one. It's a global happening, after all.
What's the big draw for them?
Olivia said the cookies and hot chocolate served that day (it was cold!) helped motivate her last year.
Laurelai said the dance was a "cool" way to spread kindness around. Marley enjoyed dancing with her sister and her friends but it was a great way to broaden her social net, too. "It's very cool how you meet people from all over," she said.
Guidance counselor Rachel Savoie, who is new to the school this year, looks forward to participating in the Global Dance for Kindness.
"I've signed up, and yes, I'm practicing," she said, but it's not a competition so there are no worries about getting the moves just right. "I'll be there," she said.