Dance workshop promotes message of hard work, positivity

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Monday, July 18, 2011
— Peterson Thelisma never stopped moving.

The music raced, crashed, pounded. Thelisma never tired. He never rushed. He danced for hours, shouting encouragement to a room full of students.

This was hard work, but the 25-year-old Thelisma never stopped grinning.

That’s because Thelisma’s message is bigger than dancing, said Earl Smith of Loyalty La Famila Management.

“What Pete is doing, he’s not teaching dance,” Smith said. “He’s teaching passion.”

Thelisma, a Port-au-Prince, Haiti, native who lives in Los Angeles, taught Saturday at a workshop hosted by Dance Attitudes, 10½ S. Main St., Janesville. The workshop was open to the public and included hip-hop, jazz funk and steppin’ classes.

Thelisma is a member of the Strikers All-Stars, a men’s dance crew that performs across the nation and has competed on television shows such as “America’s Got Talent” and “America’s Best Dance Crew.”

The crew got its start as a collegiate dance crew at Florida A & M University, where Thelisma majored in music education.

The Dance Attitudes workshop was part of a national promotional tour with singer/songwriter Troy Jenkins of Daytona Beach, Fla.

Jenkins sang and played acoustic guitar in breaks between Thelisma’s classes.

Behind the scenes were Earl Smith and Eric Mills, who earned marketing and business law degrees at Bethune-Cookman University and formed Loyalty La Famila. They work with Thelisma, Jenkins and other artists including poets, writers and musicians.

The four are criss-crossing the United States to do workshops at dance studios such as Dance Attitudes. On occasion, Jenkins does shows in lounges or other venues, he said.

They carry a message of hard work and positivity, Smith said. They promote clean lyrics and positive attitudes.

They have yet to make the leap from minivan to tour bus, but they’re living the dream, Jenkins said. As they build their business, they are working to set examples for other young people.

“We’re four young, black men working for ourselves,” Jenkins said. “Our business is something we started for ourselves from scratch. We’re literally on a self-made tour.”

It’s a big message to carry to the teens and young adults at dance studios in small towns across America, Jenkins said.

“That’s an opportunity we hold very highly,” Jenkins said. “It’s so much bigger than ourselves. You can travel this country and do what you need to do to live your dream.”

Hours after the workshop at Dance Attitudes, the four were in the van headed to the next job. Thelisma’s voice still was hoarse from teaching.

Over the phone, he said the thing he wants young dancers to remember about him is the importance of a college education. It’s a message kids might hear more readily from another young person than from their parents, he said.

“If not for school and going to college, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in,” Thelisma said. “With college, you can go on and maximize your full potential.”


Dance Attitudes, 10½ S. Main St., Janesville, this year celebrates its 20th season in downtown Janesville.

Owner Cheryl Schmidt has been teaching dance in Janesville since 1980. Dance is a healthy activity that promotes strength, coordination and teamwork, she said.

“We don’t believe you have to be a professional to enjoy learning to dance,” Schmidt said.

Classes are available in ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and lyrical styles.

For more information, call (608) 754-4399 or search for Dance Attitudes on Facebook.

Last updated: 5:52 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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