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New dance troupe grows by leaps

The legacy left by the late dance teacher Pam Nobles is alive and well, with the emergence of a successor program to her dedicated work for more than four decades.

The Forgotten Coast Performing Arts program, under the direction of Helen Escobar and Holly Chambers, presented “Be Our Guest,” their spring showcase May 29 at the Chapman Theatre before a sold-out audience.

Escobar, a classically-trained dancer who now oversees the Matchbox programs on the campus of the former Apalachicola High School, and Chambers, a longtime protege of Nobles’, teamed up to start FCPA not long after Nobles’ studio closed, as the beloved dance teacher began a bout with cancer.

For the last 18 months, the FCPA has gradually built up, in its site inside the fieldhouse of the former high school campus, with additional studio space in the Matchbox gymnasium.

The FCPA is anchored by a group of eight company dancers – Kierstyn Cardin, Andie Chambers, Mya Huckeba, Baylee Grace Kent, Skylar Layne, Madison Martina, Issy Nations and Elena Rodriguez. 

These girls will be headed to Nationals June 30, with a wealth of awards already to their credit.

Martina has won Platinum, for being champion of the category, for “Soldier,” while Nations has Platinum, for eighth overall in age group, for “Dead of Night.”

Andie Chambers’ “Toxic,” has landed her Platinum, for 15th overall in age group, while Huckeba has a pair of Platinum Elites, for “Carry On,” for champion of category and second overall in age group, and for “Looking at Me,” for being first in category and first overall in age group.

Kent’s “Rival” earned her Platinum, for first place contemporary soloist, and Layne’s “Castle” received Platinum for 16th overall in age group, and for “Hypnotic.”

Rodriguez’s “Sweet Dreams” was Platinum, for 17th overall in age group, and “Levitating” by Chambers and Cardin was Platinum for second overall in age group.

“Hey Big Spender” by Layne and Huckeba was Platinum, and “Watching You” by Layne, Huckeba, Nations, Martina, and Kent was Platinum Elite for first place overall.

“Feeling Good” by Layne, Huckeba, Nations, Martina, Kent and Rodriguez has also earned Platinum.

Escobar teaches ballet on Tuesday, and Chambers offers jazz and contemporary all week, as well as the Mommy and Me class for the littlest ones, from age 4 to 7, some even as young as 2.

The two women have also brought in former professional dancer Scott Benson, who had worked with Nobles, to come in once a week on Mondays and teach jazz and contemporary dance.

“Attendance is important, they must attend three days a week,” said Escobar. “We’re sort of building it from the beginning, we’re trying to build it the way we think it should be done. We’re all committed to it right now.”

The women have structured it so there is a flat registration fee, and not individual costs for each class. “We wanted everyone to be able to participate,” she said.

One thing that is missing is any boys taking part, although they have had boys in the past until sports drew them away.

“We’d love to have boys,” said Escobar.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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