The First Annual Dunedin Tap Dance Festival

The First Annual Dunedin Tap Dance Festival

No matter where life takes you, never forget your roots.

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Tap Classes, live performances, and the unveiling of the newest dolphin to the Pinellas County's Pod... Needless to say, Saturday, September 15th, was filled with tons of fun and love in the dance community. The Florida Tap Dance Project held their inaugural tap festival in Dunedin, Florida. The Tap Project was developed by Kayla Cowart in efforts to encourage the growth of tap dancing throughout Florida.

The event was held at Patricia Ann Dance Studio, which has been in the Tampa Bay Area for over 55 years. Kayla chose to hold her first Tap Festival there because it is the studio she grew up dancing at. Kayla started dancing at Patricia Ann when she was younger, and still feels a great rooted connection. She is currently performing in the cast of New York City's Off-Broadway production of STOMP. Moving to New York has been a dream come true for her. She went there for a weekend in 2015 to audition for various shows, not thinking much of it, and never came back. However, she never forgot where it all started. Kayla considers Patricia Ann Dance Studio to be her home away from home. With all of her success, she wanted to do something special for her dance family back home.

The Florida Tap Project, which consists of Kayla, as well as 5 other Tap Dance Ambassadors of Florida, 4 Tap Dance Ensembles, 3 Prominent Dance Studios, and 2 Corporate Sponsors, put together their first festival. The event was totally FREE to the public. The day started out with master classes taught by the talented Ambassadors. They held classes of every level- beginner, intermediate, and advanced. There was even a class for adults that wanted to come out and get a little tap on!

Classes wrapped up around 1:45 pm, and the next event began at 2:30. This was one of the most special parts of the festival for me. If you've ever been to Pinellas County, I'm sure you've seen at least 1 of the 200+ artistic dolphins around. At 2:30, the City of Dunedin unveiled the official mascot of the Florida Tap Dance Project- Rhythm!

Kayla Cowart, Patricia McNally, Rhythm, Cara Zamudio, Morgan StorrisonMorgan Storrison

Rhythm is the newest addition to the Pinellas County's Dolphin Pod. As awesome as that is- Rhythm is actually even more special. Rhythm is not only the official mascot for the Florida Tap Dance Project, but is also in memory of Kayla's First Tap Teacher- Miss Elaine Forestier. Miss Elaine passed away earlier this year, and Kayla wanted to do something special for her. She is the reason that Kayla, along with countless others, found a love for dance. She spoiled the community with her knowledge and talent. She influenced not only the tap community, but the arts all together in Florida. If she never taught you directly, she taught someone you knew. I don't think words could ever possibly do Miss Elaine justice, but its obvious to say that in 55 years teaching dance in Pinellas County, her outreach is endless. If you're ever in the area, make sure you check out Rhythm, and appreciate the impact Miss Elaine had on so many people.

5 of Miss Elaine's Soloists. Tammy Zeph

Patricia Ann Dance Studio tends to impact their dancers for life. Here, is photographed 6 different generations of tap dancers taught by Miss Elaine. They all came out to tap, and support the first Tap Festival. The Festival concluded with live performances from different Tap Groups at John R. Lawrence Pioneer Park. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.

No matter where life takes us, it's important to appreciate how we got there. Kayla has truly done this. It's wonderful to see successful people giving back to their community. I am so impressed with everything Kayla has done, and I cannot wait to see what the Florida Tap Dance Project does next. For more information and upcoming events check out http://floridatap.com.

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11 Great Books For People Who Don't Like Reading

If you don't like to read, this is the article for you.
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I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll say it again, I am no reader. My twin sister, on the other hand, is a huge curly-q bookworm.

I always see her flying through novels for pure pleasure. I'll be honest, the sight of it makes me cringe. My body won't stay still after I get through 20 pages (unless I'm hooked). You can consider me the girl who doesn't finish anything (like Professor Calamitous in Jimmy Neutron...I even have the short stature down).

Maybe my dislike of reading stems from teachers force feeding us excruciatingly boring summer assignments.

1984? Straight up diarrhea

Fahrenheit? Vomit vomit vomit.

Animal Farm? Excruciatingly yuck.

The only thing I enjoyed about Animal Farm was laughing at how awful the movie was. On the other hand, give me a young adult novel, and you can count me in. I guess I have Vikas Turakhia to thank for introducing me to J.D Salinger and provoking my drive to become a better writer--after he made me cry and gave me a B- for a report regarding a book about Polenta. High-School was a time... amiright?

Anyway, even though I am not a big reader, there are still a few books that have stuck with me throughout the years. Here is a list of novels I highly recommend to those who associate reading with chores...this time it won't have to be.

1. Looking for Alaska

"Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps." -JohnGreenBooks.com

2. Eleanor and Park

"Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try." -Goodreads.com

3. City of Thieves

Written by the writer and producer of Game of Thrones... enough said. Another book that I was forced to read thanks to Vikas Turakhia and one I will never put down.

4. Paper Towns

"Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows. After their all-nighter ends and new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew." -Johngreenbooks.com

5. Franny and Zooey

"FRANNY came out in The New Yorker in 1955 and was swiftly followed, in 1957 by ZOOEY. Both stories are early, critical entries in a narrative series I'm doing about a family of settlers in twentieth-century New York, the Glasses. It is a long-term project, patently an ambiguous one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose that sooner or later I'll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locations, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I'm very hopeful. I love working on these Glass stories, I've been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill." -Salinger

6. The Catcher in the Rye

"The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days.

The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain too, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

J.D. Salinger's classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950's and 60's it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read." -Goodreads.com

7. The Westing Games

"A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger - and a possible murderer - to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead... but that won't stop him from playing one last game!" -Goodreads.com

8. Milk and Honey

"milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look. " -Goodreads.com

9. Room

"To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world....

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience - and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another." -Goodreads.com







10. Replica

"Two Girls, Two Stories, One Book"- Goodreads.com

11. Mother, Can You Not?

"In Mother, Can You NOT?, Kate Siegel pays tribute to the woman whose helicopter parenting may make your mom look like Mother Teresa. From embarrassing moments (like her mother’s surprise early morning visit, catching Kate in bed with her crush) to outrageous stories (such as the time she moved cross country to be near Kate’s college) to hilarious mantras (“NO STD TEST, YOU WON’T BE GETTING SEXED!”), Mother, Can you NOT? lovingly lampoons the lengths to which our mothers will go to better our lives (even if it feels like they’re ruining them in the process)." -kateesiegel.com
Cover Image Credit: 123RF

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My Favorite 3 Articles I've Written For Odyssey During My Time As A Creator, Ranked

All good things must come to an end.

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It's been 7 months since I began writing for Odyssey as a part of the UCF Community. It was a fun ride, but due to my increasing workload and extracurriculars, it's best for me to bid adieu. However, I want to recount on the topics I talked about and rank my own work. From racial issues to pop music, I think I cast a good spectrum of topics I covered while writing for Odyssey.

3. "The 4 Types Of People, From Stalkers To SJW'S, You'll Find On Twitter"

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For those who don't know, or couldn't tell, Twitter is one of my favorite social media sites (follow me here). So I decided, why not write about one of my favorite social media sites? It took me a while to figure out just how to write about Twitter. It wasn't until I saw a tweet talking about the 'cults' of different states. It hit me, there are different communities on Twitter that operate very differently. 'Stan Twitter' for example are harsh and can be some of the meanest people on the internet. While 'Black Twitter' is one of the funniest and light-hearted communities on Twitter. If you wanna go more in-depth on the 'cults of Twitter' I suggest you give this article a read here.

2. "College Life As Told By The Queen Of Daytime TV, Wendy Williams"

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Wendy Williams is one of the most outlandish and ridiculous daytime talk show hosts on the air. She has become an internet meme with many photos of her funny faces and poses being used to describe people's moods, funny stories, and jokes. Personally speaking, I use Wendy Williams photos in my texts and tweets to bring more comedic value to them. So, when coming up with an idea for an article, I decided why not make Wendy Williams the center of it. Not to toot my own horn, but this was one of my funniest articles I put out on the Odyssey and I'm very proud of it. If you wanna see how I connected college life to Wendy Williams memes, then click here!

1. "6 Ignorant Things I've Heard As A 'Racially Ambiguous' Biracial Person"

Colin Christian

This was only the third article I wrote for Odyssey, and it was such a personal one! I don't remember how I came up with the idea for this article, but I'm glad the idea popped in my head. I think it helped people understand that although questions are necessary to get to know someone, the wording of the question is what's toxic. This article sparked a conversation between me and people who knew me but didn't know me personally. I got a lot of (not ignorant) questions, that I loved answering. Although it became a rant piece at the end, I'm very proud of what this article became and for the conversation it started with my friends and family.

My time here at Odyssey was a fun one. I loved having my own voice and writing about topics that I wanted to write about. I grew as not only a writer but a person. It really helped me think and voice my opinions more scholarly and I actually read some really well-written articles from my team!

So to end, I would like to thank Larissa, Megan, and the entire Odyssey UCF team for giving me the opportunity to write and have my voice heard and for their endless support.

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