Dancing for a cause

The Pointe Academy Dance Center in Rochester performs its annual recital at Varner Hall in June. The dance center also hosts a charity holiday event every winter.

The Annual Burt Meisel Holiday Benefit was also hosted in Varner until two years ago, when Avondale High School in Auburn Hills offered to host it. Sunday, Dec. 10 marks the 10th year of the event, which supports ALS Michigan.

In the event’s history, PADC students from ages 5-18 have raised $37,000 for Michigan’s ALS community.

“We have a philosophy at the studio, which is about teaching our students to use their gift of dance to give back to the community,” said Dori Ranck, instructor and affiliate of PADC for the last 25 years.

Until 11 years ago, PADC participated in the Rochester Christmas Parade. The last year they did, it was raining.

“It was a disaster for the kids,” Ranck said. “We decided we had to make a change. That wasn’t going to be our holiday performance anymore.”

The vision for a benefit performance came from the studio’s owner and director MaryBeth Tremp-Seeger. When a student’s mother mentioned she had a connection with ALS Michigan, they decided to make the organization the benefactor of the event.

Six months into planning the inaugural benefit, Ranck’s father Burt Meisel, who danced with Ranck and his granddaughters in many of the studio’s performances, was diagnosed with ALS. Shortly after dancing in that first event, he passed away from the disease. The performance has been in his memory since.

This year will include performances from professional singer Karen Newman, Sponge guitarist and singer Andy Patalan, drum lines from Rochester Adams and Stony Creek High Schools and dance teams from Notre Dame and Rochester Adams.

The theme of the event is Christmas on a beach. The dancers will be doing various numbers including classics from “The Nutcracker,” “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Waltz of the Flowers.”

“The students love the opportunity to perform,” said Ranck. “What we’re trying to instill in them is that it’s not just about the performance. When you hear a young child say, ‘we raised money to help people that need it here in Michigan,’ they’re getting it.”

While many dance studios are competitive, PADC focuses its energy on giving back through community events rather than continuously competing. And they’re keeping things warm and positive this year by riding the winter wave with this beach themed day of giving.

Doors will open at 2:15 p.m. Admission to the event costs $20 and tickets can be reserved in advance by calling 248-852-2585.