Big Top Gala held for Pine Belt dancers

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Performing Arts hosted their Big Top Gala at the Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center Sunday evening.

President and Founder Kelly Vuyovich said the theme of this year's performance was a circus.

He said his dancers, ranging from the ages of 40 to 83, spent six months working to perfect their moves.

Vuyovich, who teaches ballroom and Latin dancing, said the focus of his organization is to reach out to underprivileged children and senior citizens in the community.

"I go to their facilities and I get them out of the wheelchair," Vuyovich said. "I've been teaching ballroom and Latin dance for 43 years and it's great therapy for them."

One of his students, 75-year-old Wally Pye, said he's been dancing with Vuyovich for 17 years. He wasn't a dancer before he met Vuyovich, but now he can't stop dancing.

"We do it because my wife and I enjoy it," Pye said. "It's the one thing that we can do together."

University of Southern Mississippi Professor of Social Work Dr. Michael Forster, 66, said he encourages everyone to get up and dance.

"It's terrific for your physical health," Forster said. "It's terrific for your mental health. It's a great bunch of people. It's a very welcoming community and it builds community. I can't think of anything better to do."

Vuyovich said his mission is to provide dance lessons little to no cost to senior citizens and children with special needs.

For more information on how you can get involved, call 601-596-6669.