Smiles are contagious in the studio on Sunday afternoons.
That’s when the cast of 80 youngsters gathers in the Powell Moise School of Dance to rehearse for Of Moving Colors’ annual community show “Kick It Out.”
The show opens on Friday, Jan. 30, in the Manship Theatre, and smiles are guaranteed. They can’t help it.
“Watch Marlon and Rebecca,” says Garland Goodwin Wilson, the company’s artistic director. “They love this dance so much that they can’t help themselves.”
She’s watching while former company member Marlon Grigsby walks through a routine with company member Rebecca Sawyer set to Harry Connick Jr.’s “A Wink and A Smile.” Both are in costume. And they’re definitely having fun.
“‘Kick It Out’ is such a relaxing show,” says Grigsby. “It’s not so serious, so it’s a chance to kick back and have fun.”
Local dance fans may not recognize Grigsby’s face, but they’ll know his name as the Mouse King in the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker — A Tale from the Bayou.”
Grigsby wears a big mouse head while performing precise, classic ballet moves in that production, but he’s dressed more like Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain” for “Kick It Out.”
And Sawyer? Her costume is reminiscent of Renee Zellweger’s from the “Roxie Hart” number in “Chicago.”
They lock arms in a twirl, he lifts her and they conclude with a flourish.
“I think this show is fun for everyone because of the music,” says Grigsby. “The show has a lot of fun songs that everyone will enjoy.”
Still, one loyal “Kick It Out” supporter won’t be there to hear the music this year.
“My mom, Margaret Goodwin, died in November, and she was a big fan of ‘Kick It Out,’” Wilson says. “She came from that era of big entertainment, and she loved all of the big musical numbers and smiles.”
Wilson is dedicating the show to her mom, but she’s also handing out accolades to her choreographers and company dancers. They pulled the show together during Wilson’s two-month absence after her mother’s death.
“What they did really reflects the theme of this show,” Wilson says. “We call this our community show, where we feature children from the community. But when I was out, the choreographers and dancers stepped in to pull the meat of this show together. This was my community coming together to help me, and they have done an amazing job.”
Music blares from the next studio as Wilson speaks.
Youngsters, ages 5-18, join company dancers in such numbers as Louis Armstong’s rendition of “Hello, Dolly!” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”
These are the dances put together by choreographers and teachers Courtney Landry, Will Bove, Bethany Jones McCullough, Christine Chrest, Micaela Conner, Kendall Keating, Rachel Vierick and Carrie Tatum.
Choreographers remind them to smile.
The dance steps will come with practice, they say, but smiles must always be big — as big as those of Grigsby and Sawyer.
“I just love watching them,” Wilson says. “They start smiling the moment they look at each other. They’re having so much fun, and you can’t help but smile, too.”