Owner and coach Brittany Gessner pointed out it will be the group’s first public performance at a LatinoFest. But while her students entertain the crowd, the performance gives the gym’s teams valuable experience as they prepare for upcoming competitions.
While Nickelodeon cartoon character Diego is expected to be the star attraction, Mrs. Gessner hopes to catch the eye of aspiring Latino cheerleaders, dancers, and gymnasts. Public performances serve also serve as a recruiting tool for her locally-owned business. Two performances are scheduled Saturday afternoon on the children’s stage at Promenade Park: one at 2:30 p.m. and an encore at 4 p.m.
“A performance like this means a lot,” said Mrs. Gessner. “It gives them an opportunity to participate in community events and being on stage brings a lot of pride. They get to show off their talent to as many people as show up to the LatinoFest.”
The gym’s All-Star competitive teams will perform dance and cheer routines, including Team Twinklers (ages five and under), Team Firecrackers (ages eight and under), Team Lightning (ages 14 and under), and Team Galaxy (ages 18 and under).
“We like to do a lot of parades and special shows like this,” said Mrs. Gessner. “This performance is going to build that showmanship, team unity, the togetherness.
But a public performance is a bit different than a dance or cheer competition, she explained, because those require a team to show a specific set of skills that are judged.
“When we do our shows and special events like this, we’re able to go above and beyond that,” said Mrs. Gessner. “We’re able to show off. The kids have been working on tricks that may be at a different level and are able to throw those bigger tricks (into the routine). It causes an amazing, entertaining show.”
CheerWorks Sparks only has a handful of Latino children as students. But Mrs. Gessner hopes to draw more Latino students to her gym with the festival performances.
“We’d definitely like to have more,” she said. “I want as many kids as we possibly can. I hope it brings a lot more. I don’t think a lot of people understand what all-star cheerleading is all about.”
73 of the studio’s students have gone on to cheer in college.
“We help the kids to further their opportunities and not just cheering at their local schools,” she said. “We get them ready for that, but we also take them as far as they want to go by teaching them the tricks and skills needed to make a college team.”
While competitive dance and cheer teams may sound expensive and could potentially scare off some families, Mrs. Gessner pointed out the gym holds regular fundraisers to help defray the cost. Proceeds go directly into individual accounts for each student in order to lower the price. The studio also secures team sponsorships to help defray the cost of competitions.
Two other youth-oriented dance troupes also will perform. El Corazón de México will take the main stage at 2 p.m., to be followed by Ballet Folklorico Imagenes Mexicanas at 3:30 p.m.
Among the other children’s activities at the MidWest LatinoFest will be a “Family Time” area from noon to 5 p.m.
Cartoon character Diego from the Nick Jr. children’s cable TV show “Go Diego Go” will pose for free photos with kids from noon to 1 p.m., courtesy of major sponsor The Blade. Nickelodeon’s Diego also has two scheduled 20-minute performances on the main stage: the first at 1 p.m. and the second show at 3 p.m. Diego will also make appearances in the Children’s areas.
The Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center will host a children’s arts and crafts section from 1 to 4 p.m. During those same hours, Toledo Zoo staff will lead kids in hands-on activities and the Home Depot Tool Box program will allow sons and daughters to make Father’s Day gifts. Father’s Day is June 17—¡Feliz Día de los Padres!