East Lubbock dance program providing more than just technique - FOX34 Lubbock

East Lubbock dance program providing more than just technique

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

They have become a face for the East side community. The West Texas Dancing Raiderettes is a non-profit organizations born out of a desire for dance. 

The artistic director, Tyra Bradford has been studying dance at Texas Tech. For the past four years, she has also been teaching the Raiderettes. 

"For me, It was just community outreach," Bradford said. "Then I started teaching one class a week, then I started coming maybe five or six times a week and it just picked up from there."

Bradford grew up in inner-city Dallas. She said her parents had to drive her all the way to the suburbs to train. 

"For some kids, that's far," Bradford said. "For me, that's far and I'm thankful my parents were able to take me to the suburbs to get that dance training but we want to start in our community first." 

Treva Ellison co-founded the non-profit in 2014. 

"We realize, we really didn't have an outlet for dance on the East side for our kiddos," Ellison said.

Dancers as young as seven and as old as 18 train five nights a week. Ellison said without this program, many of these girls would have never had this opportunity.  

"Not everybody plays basketball, but they're wonderful dancers," Ellison said. "This is something to get them to see by thinking outside the box, I can do more than what I'm being offered." 

Mary Ward is one of those performers.

"It's given me something to do, so I just wouldn't be home," Ward said. "Something active to do and just be out of the streets, not saying I was in the streets, but for me, this was a good influence."

These girls recognize the change throughout each other. 

"We teach leadership skills, if your grades are falling, you can't dance," Bradford said.  "So you sit down and watch everyone dance because grades come first so I feel like that has impacted them because they want to dance, and they know that."

These artists would not be who they are now if it was not for Bradford. 

"We have girls that are like, I wanna be a dancer like Ms. Tyra," Ellison said. "I wanna go to Tech, I wanna dance."

Bradford's used her connections with Texas Tech. The girls have been able to watch performances, take part in charity events for a dance organization, and have had professors and students guest teach. 

"There is scholarships in dance, there is," Bradford said. "A lot of people don't know that or want to know that." 

While not every member will pursue dance on a collegiate level, the troupe is gaining something both Ellison and Bradford believe will impact the girl's lives far beyond their time as Raiderettes. 

"It's definitely impacted me, my students, they're amazing and I just love to see them grow and want to grow in dance and ask questions," Bradford said. "It's just beautiful to see kids connected to dance as much as they are."

Ellison adds it is a program that is open to the entire community. While there is a monthly fee, she said there are scholarship opportunities available to waive it. 

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