GOSPELFEST
Herald-Sun, The (Durham, NC){PUBLICATION2}
February 6, 1997
Section: Mainly 4 Kids
Edition: Final
Page: C6

They gyrate. They strut. They twist and turn. They boogie down and most of them aren't even 5 feet tall. Though Don Cornelious and Dick Clark are nowhere in sight, ``Kidfest Television Show'' is like a combination of ``Soul Train'' and ``American Bandstand'' for the temporarily vertically challenged.
 
Essentially, kids 6 to 12 years old get to dance to music for the half-hour show broadcast Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. on the local cable access channel in Durham (Channel 8). A cartoon is usually shown halfway through. It also runs in Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Greensboro.

They tape a show once a month at the Time Warner Cable studios on East Club Boulevard. One recent gray Saturday taping was brightened by the presence of 16 chatty and squirmy Durham kids who had preregistered to be on the show. Some of the young dancers sported their finest, colorful clothes while others decided they would go casual -- the better to move around and sweat in.

``Kidfest Television Show'' is the brainchild of producer Charles Alexander. He had the idea eight years ago, but launched the show last year. Either he, his wife or daughter choose the music, which is Top 40 music from as far back as the 1970s. Alexander has big plans for the show.

``I want the show to go national while still serving each community,'' Alexander said.

While Alexander mans the control room, the kid wrangler position goes to the energetic and cheerful Beverly Bryant whose official title is floor director. Bryant got involved with the show after her 7-year-old daughter, Janie, appeared on it. Janie still turns up to dance on the show and to let the other kids see how it's done.

``It's a good, clean program and [Janie] kind of likes the spotlight. She's a ham,'' Bryant said. ``With that little shyness she has, being on the show helps her. And her teachers and friends see her and get excited.''

After viewing a tape of the show in an orientation,
Bryant brings Durham's solid-gold dancers into
a small taping studio that has been decorated
with balloons and the Kidfest logo.

``Ladies with the pretty dresses, I don't suggest you fall on the floor and kick up your legs. You're too pretty for that,'' Bryant advises.

Bryant gives the kids instructions on how to keep moving during a line dance -- where each kid gets a chance to bask in the camera's glow as they strut their stuff down the carpet. One boy does the macarena; another boy in a suit and a red and black checked clip-on tie lets fly some jerky arm movements, then strides purposefully into the camera's range.

There are no shy wallflowers at this taping. When ``Fastlove'' by George Michael fills the room, its synthesized beat seeps into the children and they shake their booties. A few boys even dance with the girls for a slow song by James Taylor.

``It's amazing that in five years, they won't want to be apart,'' Bryant accurately noted.

After close to an hour of taping, broken up by water and bathroom breaks, the show is wrapped and the kids are sent into the arms of waiting parents. And like an intrepid Dick Clark grilling his dancers on their name and age after the spotlight dance, this inquiring mind wants to know who these kids are and where did they get their moves.

Leah Pompey, 6, who was just too snazzy in her pink tights, lime-green skirt and flowered shirt, and quite uninhibited on the dance floor, said her mom, dad and uncle shared their dance moves with her.

E.J. Okonji, the dashing 7-year-old with the suit and clip-on tie and the fancy footwork, shared the dance floor with his two sisters, Tracey, 10, and Stacey, 9, both looking like princesses in their pretty dresses and black patent leather shoes.

``At first I was nervous, but I got used to it,'' Tracey said.

Also exhibiting a great flair for dancing was Terrence Grissom, 9, who said his sisters taught him some moves. Stephanie Davis, 8, comes to every taping. She said it's ``better to dance than sit around.'' Brothers Anthony Blair, 6, and Maurice Blair, 10, had a ball, too.

``When I was a little kid, I used to dance a lot,'' Maurice said. ``Now I watch TV and just practice and show off.''

For information about participating in a ``Kidfest'' dance show taping, call 932-8048. There is no charge to be on the show.
Photo: JOE WEISS, MOVIN' AND GROOVIN': Sherie Royster, 6, (front, in T-shirt) and Stephanie Davis, 8, (center, near camera) boogie down during a taping of Kidfest Television dance show.

Photo: JOE WEISS, TAPING SHOW: Kidfest Television founder and producer Charles Alexander tapes the dance show once a month at Time Warner Cable on East Club Boulevard. The show runs at 4:30 p.m. Thursdays on the local cable access channel.
Copyright, 1997, The Durham Herald Company

Diminutive dancers get down
Kids get chance to perform for TV cameras
MELANIE CREDLE The Herald-Sun

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