For the first time Dakota County 4-H youngsters put on their dancing shoes at the fair.

The Arts-In shows entertained fair goers with five performances of “Dancing Through the Decades” at Dakota County Fair.

The senior and junior Arts-In groups performed on the stage within the 4-H building on the fairgrounds.

Rachel Stancer-Prokop, director for junior Arts-In, said youth worked hard to rehearse songs and practice lines and dance steps and many appeared on stage for the first time.

This was the first year for the junior Arts-In programming. It served as a testing of the waters for younger members to see if they were inspired to learn how to sing and dance in a group and have fun on stage, Prokop said. The junior Arts-In is designed for youngsters in third through fifth grades who want try out their talents in being a part of a theatrical production.

“Dakota County 4-H is all about opportunity and we want to give the juniors in Dakota County 4-H the chance to grow and expand, and we want them to have fun expanding their talents and skills,” Prokop added.

In the past, Arts-In fair shows have catered to developing the softer skills of singing and dancing in older Dakota County 4-H youth.

“This year some of our youth have never done theatre and a couple have some theatre performance experience within the community and school theatre, but we just want kids throughout Dakota County to come together and put on a performance,” she said.

Dakota County 4-H leaders believe theatrical experience will inspire youth to get more involved and develop more life skills.

As an adult leader today who was actively involved in Dakota County 4-H programs for 14 years, Prokop said the Arts-In experience allowed her to gain performance and showmanship skills. She even learned how to sing and dance in a group for seven years being involved in the productions at the fair.

The junior group played the popular 1980s song “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles band because this song was the first music video played on MTV, Prokop said. Youth also sang and danced to the mega 1980s hit by Whitney Houston “I Want to Dance with Somebody.”

“Through the arts I gained confidence and I even though I was a dancer, I had never done theatre and played in a band or choir, so this gave me a widen experience level and I gained confidence in myself,” said Prokop.

This summer she had fun mentoring youth to put on their dancing shoes and project their singing voices on stage.

“I can help the kids and relate to what they are feeling if they are fearful to be on stage, and I can understand and try to get them to push themselves, have fun and realize it is not as scary as they make it out to be.”

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