JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
24-VII Danceforce director Marcelo Pacleb, left, watches as choreographer Ashley Layfield leads both fellow Danceforce members and Special Olympians during rehearsals at their Windward Mall studio for a performance at the Special Olympics on Friday. CLICK FOR LARGE
To the beat of the heart
A pilot program adds dancing to Special Olympics' opening ceremony
» Learning is a two-way affair
ALTON BUSTAMANTE stood around during dance class appearing totally uninterested. Apparently, he was memorizing the steps and saving all of his energy for the performance at the end when he pulled out his sunglasses and began to move.
SPECIAL OLYMPICS SUMMER GAMES
Place: University of Hawaii Les Murakami Stadium
When: Opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. Friday; games continue through Sunday
On the net: www.specialolympicshawaii.org
For more information on dance classes, call 235-5141 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bustamante, 22, is among a group of Special Olympics athletes taking in classes at 24-VII Danceforce studio in Windward Mall. Dancers from the studio are paired with athletes to prepare for a performance at the Summer Special Olympics opening ceremony.
Jeanie Bustamante, Alton's mother, says her son is normally shy but "loves to entertain. ... He's a character" once he feels comfortable.
The seven-week pilot project began when a dance troupe member expressed an interest in providing community service work to fulfill a requirement for acceptance into a school honors program.
"We are honored and blessed to be involved in such an inspiring program," said Marcelo Pacleb, founder and creative director of 24-VII Danceforce. "This had really been an exciting experience for all of us, and volunteering is truly a priority for our dancers."