Monday Close-up: Dancers help with life’s calamities
There is no shortage of dance studios in Utah County, but one studio does more than teach and showcase dancers. The Kalamity team dances for a cause, helping many people in Utah and delivering a message of service, self-love and of course, dance.
Tia Stokes, who grew up in St. George and now lives in Orem, began dancing when she was ten years old. As a senior in high school, she began auditioning in Los Angeles, where she danced professionally. In 2007, she decided to move back to Utah to have a family. “I wanted to continue dancing and doing what I love, so I started the group,” Stokes said.
As Stokes was trying to think of a name for her new dance company, the word “calamity” kept coming to mind — except she didn’t know why. “Finally, I named it Kalamity with a K, made some shirts and started performing,” she said.
In 2009, the group was getting ready for their first concert when one of the dancers was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. “As we got ready for the show, we decided to make it a show for her and decided to donate 100% of the proceeds to her,” Stokes said.
After that, Stokes realized why she felt moved to name her company what she did. “That’s what Kalamity is for — to help people going through calamities,” she said.
Since that first concert, the group has raised over $1 million to help other people. They have performed to raise money for people battling cancer, a man who needed a heart transplant, two young siblings battling a rare inherited condition, a young boy with a brain tumor and this fall, they are raising money for a woman who has stomach cancer.
“We plan two concerts a year. We choose our cause at the beginning of the year and have one concert in May and one in December,” Stokes said. “But, we have people contact us, like when a dad passed away suddenly from heart disease and they needed help with funeral. I have literally been called on Sunday night and put on a concert on Wednesday. So, it ends up being five to eight concerts a year. People contact me and we try to do it if we can.”
The concerts do not cost much — the upcoming one in December has a $5 admission fee. All of the proceeds go to help those who are in need. Typically, according to Stokes, the money raised from dance recitals goes back into the studio. With Kalamity, though, all of it is donated. The performances are accompanied by bake sales, silent auctions and dinners.
Kalamity practices at The Vault Dance Studio in Orem, where lessons are available in a variety of dance styles including Polynesian, contemporary jazz and hip-hop. Classes are taught from ages 3 to adulthood. The children’s dance company is called Kaos.
“We used to dance in our garages or other studios, wherever we could find space,” Stokes said. “Then, we needed our own space. So, I opened up The Vault, to have practices and teach classes. They all get to dance for a cause — for people going through real-life calamities.” There is also a Vault dance studio in St. George, where more Kalamity dancers learn and practice.
Kalamity also performs for kids at school assemblies. Stokes puts together programs that incorporate music, dance, skits, saying no to drugs, making good choices, standing up against bullying and loving ourselves. The 30-minute show is very high energy, according to Stokes. “We always get great reviews about it,” she said.
Springville resident Nicole Fiedler wanted to get back into dancing and began taking lessons at The Vault Dance Studio, where she loved the positive atmosphere. “When I heard about the dance team Kalamity and that they danced for a cause, I knew this was exactly what I wanted to be a part of. Service and dance — it just doesn’t get better than that,” she said.
Fiedler said that before the group dances, they pray together for the person at the center of the performance. “This team, dancing for a cause and focusing on helping someone in need has been the perfect therapy for me and many others as we also are going through hard things,” she said.
Kalamity’s next planned performances will be held Dec. 6 and 7 at Timpview High School in Provo at 7 p.m. For information about tickets, lessons and assemblies, people can go to http://TheVaultDance.com.