Mesquite Toes Dance Troupe presents ‘Holiday Sampler’


By Abbey Snow

Mesquite Toes Dance Troupe presents ‘Holiday Sampler’

The Mesquite Toes dance troupe will present their “Holiday Sampler” on November 19 and 20 at the Mesquite Community Theater to mark many holidays and celebrations throughout the year.

“As we were stuck inside (due to Covid) and weren’t able to celebrate all the normal holidays, our performance in November is called Holiday Sampler”, vice president of the Mesquite Toes Dance Troupe Board of Directors, said Cherie Kempe. “It will highlight many festivals and celebrations throughout the year. We have a number to celebrate every month of the year. We have a few more performers besides toes such as; Linda Nelson, the Sun River Jazz Dancers and the Sun River Western Dancers of Utah. As a special gift, some of the Toes’ husbands and male friends volunteered to perform with us. “

Marge Westwood is the director of Mesquite Toes Dance Troupe. She was with the company since 2003, date of its creation.

“I’m so excited to be back at our local community theater in Mesquite without the Covid restrictions we had last year,” Westwood said. “It’s the opening of the seats but the masks must be worn. We love our audience and they support us so much!

The Mesquite Toes dance troupe is a senior dance team that uses practice and performance to promote member health and teamwork. The group was founded in December 2003 as The Mesquite Toes Tap Team by Vicki Eckman. Eckman was the director and choreographer until his retirement in 2016.

“We are an inclusive group and invite everyone to join in,” Kempe said. “We currently have members aged around 60 to 77, the average age being 65. Also, we have both men and women in our group, so everyone is welcome.”

Complete set of the Mesquite Toes dance troupe at the Spring show in April 2021 (photo by Bruce Hughes)

Kempe said he has four main teams: Jazz, Clog, Intermediate Tap and Advanced Tap. They also offer beginner tap dancing and beginner clog lessons for those with little or no experience, but these members usually don’t play.

“The group gives us all a sense of camaraderie, friendship and cooperation,” said Kempe. “Plus, it’s a great aerobic workout! Numerous studies have proven that dancing improves not only your physical well-being, but also your mental and emotional health. Learning and remembering dance steps helps your memory as you get older, and being part of this wonderful group provides a sense of purpose and an opportunity to be part of the community.

Mesquite Toes Clog Team at Spring show in April 2021 (photo by Bruce Hughes)

The principal and instructors coordinate the creative aspects of the lessons and the performances. The current principal is Marge Westwood, who was one of the first Toes, founded in 2003. Tracy Bybee is the tap and jazz instructor. Tracy brings with her over 40 years of dance experience, including owning her own studio in Salt Lake City. Debbie Miller is Clog’s instructor and has taught Clog to adults and children for most of her adult life, Kempe said.

The Mesquite Toes jazz team at the Spring show in April 2021 (photo by Bruce Hughes)

As Vice-President, Kempe assists the President of the Board of Directors with administrative tasks and replaces her during her absence. The Mesquite Toes Board of Directors oversees the operations of the organization, while the Director and instructors oversee the performance, dance, and artistic aspects of the organization. She is also part of the Advanced Tap and Jazz teams.

“My personal experience of dancing began at the age of three,” said Kempe. “I studied tap, ballet and jazz from that point on and throughout college. I have attended school musicals during my teaching career, both choreographing and teaching. When I retired, originally in Florida, I joined a tap team in our community for over 55 years and have been dancing ever since. I was thrilled when we moved to Mesquite to learn there was a dance team here, so I joined the Toes as soon as I moved here in 2017. This is my fifth year with the Toes.

Kempe has participated in every performance of Mesquite Toes since his arrival. They normally put on two shows a year: one around Christmas time and one spectacular in April. In addition, they have performed in various community venues such as the Festival of Trees, The United Methodist Church and the VV-Ettes Spring Dance Show. They also participated in the Veterans Day Parade, Parade of Lights in December and also participated in the VVHS reunion parade.

“A particularly memorable show took place last year in 2020,” Kempe said. “We were so ready to play for the community after being stuck inside during Covid that we performed on a portable stage outside the Mesquite Rec Center. It was November, it was very cold and it even rained at a performance! But, everyone was socially distanced! It was great to play again and the response from the community has been very positive.

Marge Westwood joined the group when they were founded in 2003. She had no dance experience but liked to exercise to music, so she thought she would give it a try. Since then she has stayed with the group and in turn has taken on various tasks. His responsibilities with Mesquite Toes include: organizing the details and logistics of the shows, parades and all performances; organize filler acts, volunteers, programs and advertising. She also teaches the first tap dance class.

“I love to dance,” Westwood said. “It’s good for my brain and my body. When people move to Mesquite, they usually leave their family and friends behind. Having a group of fun, energetic women who become instant friends is a wonderful feeling! and always laughing with each other and we have a great time.It’s the camaraderie with the other dancers that makes it so fun!

The Mesquite Toes Tap Team Performs the “It Dance” Finale to Spring show in April 2021 (photo by Bruce Hughes)

The Mesquite Toes once performed on Holland America cruise ships, Knotts Berry Farm, New York(at the Nets and Knicks pre-game), Palm Springs, Branson, MO, various locations in Nevada and Utah, and many more.

The Mesquite Toes Dance Troupe is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, helping their community and performing when they can.

“I love that our group is a non-profit organization and we are helping the community and other non-profit organizations in Mesquite,” Westwood said.

The Mesquite Toes have given back to the Mesquite community in a number of ways. Traditionally, the proceeds from their Christmas show are donated to organizations dedicated to helping the community such as The Salvation Army, We Care for Animals, Virgin Valley Food Bank, Shop with a Cop, etc. Two years ago, they used the proceeds to fund scholarships for local high school students, Westwood said.

Mesquite Toes jazz team perform ‘Aladdin’ to Spring show in April 2021 (photo by Bruce Hughes)

“We are open to new members, you don’t need to know how to dance.” said Westwood. “Beginners will be taught from scratch and then transferred into teams. The dance teams are Jazz, Tap and Clog. New members don’t have to perform, they can be in class, learning the choreography, but they don’t have to perform if they don’t feel ready. It totally depends on them.

Those interested can contact [email protected] New courses will resume after the holidays. You can visit their website at www.mesquitetoestapteam.com

The Mesquite Toes Dance Troupe will perform their “Holiday Sampler” on November 19 at 1:00 p.m. and November 20 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Mesquite Community Theater at 150 N Yucca Street, Mesquite, NV. Tickets are $ 12 and can be purchased online at mctnv.com, Mesquite Fine Arts Center, or at the Mesquite Community Theater box office on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., or one hour before the show.


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