NORTH FORK – North Fork Dance Club is offering mountain area residents something special this spring: the chance to attend a free one-hour dance program every Tuesday and Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. through May 15.
“The class is an intro to dance, covering many styles,” explains Dance Club Director Christina DeGracia, “it’s being offered to the community to give those without the financial means an opportunity to dance!”Donations to the free program will be graciously accepted.
North Fork Dance Club offers affordable classes in Irish step dance, hip hop, jazz, karate, yoga, gymnastics, tap/ballet and belly dance. Since opening its doors in 2011, the colorful venue has become an integral part of the creative community, for kids and grown-ups alike.
The Dance Club is owned by DeGracia’s partner, North Fork native Mark Ahrens, and the space is also home to the couple’s other entertainment outfit, Sierra D.J.
DeGracia is a professional Irish step dancer and champion title holder who was a top performer at premier United States Irish dance academies, McTeggart School of Dance in Colorado. Salinas-born DeGracia also taught for McTeggart and has traveled to Ireland for dance.
So what did this local paragon of Celtic style do on St. Patrick’s Day, 2013?
“I taught a Jig at the Pines Bar to the ‘Pub Crawlers,'” DeGracia says, ever-willing to share her enthusiasm for dance in any form.
“There were some people who told me they want to come take classes, and in case they don’t ‘remember’ who taught them, it was me!” jokes DeGracia. “I had a great group of dancers that participated at the Pines.”
Dance Club representatives were out in force this St. Patrick’s Day, as the Kids’ Irish Step Dancing class performed at a Chamber of Commerce Mixer held at the North Fork Pizza Factory, while the Club’s Adult Irish class danced at Tachi Palace Casino with multi-instrumentalist and singer Evo Bluestein.
A natural dancer since the age of 3, DeGracia trained with Sue Dalena at the Dance Studio in Fresno and has worked with choreographers including “So You Think You Can Dance” regular Mia Michaels and former Laker Girl Paula Abdul. She has also toured the east coast with the dance company Celtic Fusion.
DeGracia once performed with her Irish dance troupe in Santiago, Chile, and has now taken up fire dancing. After only one year’s practice, she reports that her talents (and others’) were on display at the Rogue Festival 2013 in Fresno.
“I fire danced at the Rogue Festival with Mana Fire at Full Moon Brewery,” says DeGracia, of a performance directed by Heather Lawson. “Our Belly Dance instructor Stephanie Akers danced at the Severance with Hizz Ya Wizz.”
North Fork Dance Club also offers yoga on a regular basis with Holly Cicolette and Kristen English. DeGracia has recently begun distributing products for natural botanical wraps and the Club has a workout and wrap program featured for spring.
“Get ready for summer,” says DeGracia, “We are really excited!”