PEMBROKE — A hometown girl will be among those tapping their way across the stage at Givens Performing Arts Center when young dancers perform there later this week.
Alaina Malcolm, 17, is a member of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, which will perform twice on Thursday at GPAC on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The daughter of Joshua and Meloria Malcolm, the Pembroke native is a student at Robeson Early College High School and has been dancing almost all of her life. She began dance lessons at age 4. Most of that training took place at Amy’s Academy of Dance Arts in Chadbourn.
Malcolm is the only Robeson County resident currently in the tap ensemble. This is her eighth year performing with the troupe. Tap is her favorite dance form, she said.
“It came natural for me. I enjoyed it more. I don’t think it was because of me,” Malcolm said. “I think it was because of the teachers I had along the way.”
The ensemble rehearses each Saturday for about four hours, but dancers are expected to rehearse on their own as well.
“If you want to fight for a spot in a dance, you have to learn that dance. We’re expected to practice outside of rehearsals,” Malcolm said. “If you don’t come and dance every week. If you don’t work your rump off to be the best that you can be then you’re not going to be in the dance. That’s just how it is.”
Malcolm has danced with the ensemble in Canada, New York City and other parts of the United States, but coming home to dance has always been special to her.
“GPAC is my favorite stage to dance on. I danced on it growing up. I’ve danced in some amazing places but there’s nothing like being home and dancing at the university in front of people I love,” Malcolm said.
A variety of styles will be presented Thursday, said Gene Medler, the ensemble’s director and founder.
“It’s a percussion dance review. It has a little bit of everything. It has your traditional tap dancing, it has South African Gumboot dancing. It has French-Canadian waltz clog, Irish jigs, swing, soft shoe. It has something for everybody,” Medler said.
The ensemble, which includes youths ages 8 to 18 from throughout North Carolina, will perform two shows on Thursday at GPAC. A matinee at 10 a.m. is part of the On Stage for Youth series, and an evening performance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Founded in 1983, the ensemble has toured throughout the U.S. It also has performed in Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Germany and Mexico. The company has toured or collaborated with the Greensboro Symphony, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mallarme Chamber Players, and the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra, among others.
For information, contact the GPAC box office at 910-521-6361 or visit www.uncp.edu/gpac.
Tickets are $16 or $11 for alumni; $6 for children or students; $11 for faculty or staff; and $5 for UNCP students.
Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-416-5865.