Dance education event boosts Ardmore economy - - Texoma news, weather and sports

Dance education event boosts Ardmore economy


ARDMORE, Okla. -- More than 550 students from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas filled the Ardmore Convention Center Saturday for the 8th annual Debbie Dance Intensive.

The event is the biggest fundraiser for the Debbie Collins Dance Fund, which was established to honor a long-time local dance teacher who lost a courageous battle with breast cancer.

Students participate with hopes of earning a scholarship to further their dance education. Officials say they're proud of what the event does for the community.

"We sell out three or four hotels. We encourage these patrons to go out and shop in our community," said Annie Harlow, president of the organization's board of directors. "I think it speaks volumes to what our town is that people will come from everywhere and spend a weekend here."

Instructors from New York and Los Angeles come to the convention every year -- including dance instructor Keith Clifton, who knew Debbie Collins personally.

"She would just give up herself freely and willingly, there didn't have to be a paycheck," Clifton said. "It was just because she loved dance so much, and I think that's what we all have in common. All the teachers that I'm working with, we're here because of the love of the art."

Choreographer Will Thomas said he's amazed by the attendance at the Debbie Dance Intensive each year.

"Every year I get blown away by how many kids are here, because -- I'm going to be honest, we're in Oklahoma, and I know there's a bunch of fields and farms and I'm obsessed with it -- but there are more kids here than some of the major cities that we see across the country when we teach," Thomas said.

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