UNION — A local cheer and dance center continues to expand class offerings, including one which is different from any that have ever been available locally.
Linda Nies opened Twist and Shout Cheer and Dance Center in a building she rented at Nixon Center. This was the first local facility to offer both tumbling and competition cheer. Twist and Shout became so popular that Nies had to rent a second building the following year. The third year, Nies purchased an 8,000 square foot building (formerly Owens Lawn and Garden) at 409 Union Boulevard, Union.
The building was completely renovated, and is now brightly painted throughout, with rooms especially for dance, cheer, tumbling, after-school activities, martial arts, and fitness. One room has an in-ground trampoline, and there is even a private party “birthday room.”
As part of its expansion, Twist and Shout has purchased inflatable slides from the former Parties R Us. This allows the center to provide inflatable slide parties on location and at the center (which could coincide with parties held in the “birthday room”).
Twist and Shout held an open house/registration event Saturday, and registration will continue through the first week in September. The center will be open from 3:30-7 p.m. weekdays for its after-school pick-up program.
Available classes and their instructors are as follows:
• Tumbling — Carrianne Willis and Kinsley Gallman
• All Boys Tumbling — Chris Nies
• Recreational Cheer — Alicia Mann
• Competition Cheer — Elizabeth Ireton, Suzanne Key, Carrianne Willis and Brooklyn Nies
• Karate classes — Billy Joe Cook and Jason Inabinet (assistant)
• “Dream Team” Competition Cheer for Children with Disabilities — Cayse Jeter, Greta Bailey and Amy Austin
• After School Pick-Up — Kim Inabinet, director
• Fitness classes — Brandy Childers
On Saturday, the competition cheer squad rehearsed choreography. Nies said they will learn the whole routine within a couple days, and they will practice until their first competition in January.
Twist and Shout holds a recital each year, and this year’s recital is scheduled for May 16 at Union County High School.
The Dream Team
Twist and Shout had three competition teams in place — Mini Team (8 and under), Youth Team (11 and under) and Senior Team (18 and under) — until a fourth competition team was added this year.
The Dream Team is a competition cheer team for children with disabilities. Each participant on the team will have a buddy who will perform the routine with them.
“It’s amazing to watch them,” Nies said. “They’re so excited they’re getting to do what every other child gets to do.”
The Dream Team will begin practice after Labor Day, and registration is still ongoing. The team will compete at competitions in divisions for children with disabilities.
Amy Austin said she was introduced to competition cheer a couple years ago when her daughter, Taylor, participated.
“When we went to competitions and saw what they called the ‘special needs cheer division,’ everybody stands up and applauds,” Austin said. “They applaud for all the teams, but when these particular teams came out, everybody stood up and was crying.”
Austin said she was moved while watching a particular cheerleader perform in a wheelchair.
“Her buddy was spinning her around and she was doing all the upper body motions and yelling the cheers,” Austin said. “Then, suddenly at the end, another buddy came out, and those two buddies lifted her up out of her chair and into a stunt!”
Telling the story gave Austin goosebumps.
“Think about if you didn’t have use of your legs,” Austin said. “You would see other people doing all this stuff, and as a child when you go to sleep at night, you have to imagine they dream they can really do these things. For their dreams to come true, I think is really cool.”
Austin’s son, Chandler, supported his sister, Taylor, with signs and applause at competitions, and now she will be able to return the favor since Chandler will have the opportunity to compete with The Dream Team.
“Chandler has been involved in a lot of the swim competitions, so now we have to figure out what his niche is going to be,” Austin said. “He really loves swimming, but he also loves tumbling, flipping and dancing.”
Greta Bailey said her four-year-old daughter Ella will also compete with The Dream Team. Bailey said since Ella has been a part of the summer program at Twist and Shout, she has learned from watching the cheerleaders.
“She has learned to do a split over the summer,” Bailey said. “She is such a little performer anyway, so this is going to be right up her alley. She’s four, but she already considers herself the little cheerleading diva, so I can’t wait to see her out there.”
Bailey also mentioned that the summer program helped Ella become more verbal.
“She only came a few days a week, but I could tell such a difference in her communication,” Bailey said. “I don’t know what I would have done without Twist and Shout this summer.”
Austin — who is also director of The Miracle League of Union County — said being a Dream Team “buddy” is a good opportunity as well. Nies said several of the older cheerleaders will participate as buddies.
“Our older teenagers are really excited about being buddies,” Nies said. “It’s good for them because it teaches them that they really have it easy compared to a lot of other children. My daughter, Brooklyn, has already fallen in love with Ella. She claimed her, saying ‘I’m going to be Ella’s buddy.’”
“Buddies are learning good citizenship at an early age by having this opportunity,” Austin added. “It’s just as much an opportunity for them as for our cheerleaders to be able to do something like this.”
Nies said Twist and Shout is currently looking for sponsors for the Dream Team, as some changes to the flooring are needed to ensure the safety of participants. She said the group will hold fundraisers as well.
Bailey said she feels that Union County has been groundbreaking in terms of inclusion — first with The Miracle League of Union County and now Twist and Shout’s Dream Team.
“You don’t hear of many other places, especially small towns, being so inclusive of children with disabilities,” Bailey said. “I hope our community will be as excited about our Dream Team as we are. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
For more information about any of the classes taught at Twist and Shout, the Dream Team, or booking private parties, call (864) 429-3001(864) 427-3001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.