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Dancers embrace competition and teamwork

Participants in the Park District’s Dance Academy enjoy the collaborative and friendly spirit of the program, from beginning ballet classes to membership in Élan Dance Company, the audition-only performance group.

Élan Dance Company performing at the Carillon, August 2017

When the Academy introduced a first-ever competition dance class in 2014 for ages 9-11, students jumped at the chance to compete—not against each other, but as a team against other teams in the region. These young dancers have won ribbons in their age category for the past 3 years and are looking forward to another round of contests in February and March 2018.

2016-17 Competition Dance Team

New for the 2017-18 season, the Dance Academy launched a level two competition dance class for ages 12-14. The five participants in this class are experienced dancers who also are taking a higher level jazz class. Four are high school freshmen and one is a fifth grader. All are eager to compete and are working hard to perfect their jazz routine for the Des Plaines Dance Idol Competition February 2-4 and the Cathy Roe Ultimate Dance Competition at Oswego High School March 2-4.

Level II Competition Dance Team (L to R):  Sarah, MJ, Izzy, Eleanor, Delaney

At a recent rehearsal, the team ran through their dance, which they will perform for both competitions.

The girls explained that in addition to practicing elements of the choreography, they prepare for the competition by focusing on their facial expression, which the judges will be evaluating. Some of the challenges of preparing for competition include staying together, timing, developing stamina and dealing with absences.

These busy high school students are making time for competition dance mostly because it’s fun. “We like this program and our teacher, and are excited for our first opportunity to compete,” they said.

Upcoming Dance Academy Classes

Winter 2018 programs begin in early January.

Recital dance classes meet from January to May, with a performance at the annual recital in May. Examples of recital classes include Ballet, Hip Hop/Jazz Fusion, Storybook Ballet and more.

Prefer a shorter class just for winter?  Seasonal dance classes meet during the winter season and do not include a recital. Examples include Adult Beginning Ballet, Ballet Basics for young children, TumbleDance, and more.

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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
© 2021 Naperville Park District