Dancing for the Arts

April 16, 2012

By ERIC STEINKOPFF - Bulletin Staff Writer

(Editor’s note: This is the eighth and last in a series of stories about couples who will compete in “Dancing for the Arts,” a competition Saturday to benefit Piedmont Arts Association’s educational programs.)

A trumpet sounded to announce the entrance of Crystal Bowles and Devin Pendleton recently at the Ray Hollingsworth Dance and Arts Studio in Martinsville.

They moved onto the floor in dramatic fashion, pausing with each step as though entering a Spanish arena before throngs of unruly spectators. Pendleton stepped up, boldly thrusting his chest forward in Latin-like machismo and Bowles’ red skirt fanned out at the sides like a cape before a charging bull.

Suddenly their fluid movements led them from one corner to another in a modern hip-hop beat, arms and legs sweeping from side to side — step, tap, step, tap — until they paused again, their bodies entwined.

They were practicing for Dancing for the Arts, which will feature 16 area residents in a primarily ballroom dance competition on Saturday. Modeled after the “Dancing With the Stars” television program, it will raise money for Piedmont Arts Association educational programs at Martinsville and Henry County schools and Carlisle School.

Bowles’ and Pendleton’s assigned step is the fastest of the Latin dances, the Paso Doble, that literally means “double step” in Spanish.

It simulates action of a matador in a bullfight — full of movement, strict and powerful — leading the woman across the floor as a literal representation of his “cape” — lithe, agile and elegant.

Elements of the dance can be traced to military marches in the south of France around 1910. It was choreographed in bullfight performances as early as the 1920s and was introduced in the United States by the 1930s.

The speed of the dance at 2/4 time is like a brisk walk or even a run.

“Paso Doble is a lot of work — tensing and relaxing of muscles,” said Cindy Hollingsworth, their dance coach.

They are dancing the Paso Doble to a musical mix based on the artist Rihanna’s song Breaking Dishes.

Hollingsworth calls their free dance a “lyrical routine” — a serious approach performed by a typically comedic couple.

“This is a way for them to show their serious side,” Hollingsworth said. “I’ve really enjoyed working with them.”

Pendleton originally is from Bassett, graduated Bassett High School in 2007 and, until recently, worked in Roanoke for Allstate Insurance. In December he returned to the area as associate director of Dance Troupe Inc., a touring dance competition group run by Hollingsworth.

According to Pendleton, Bassett High School is known for its band, but not necessarily its theater program. So he became involved in the TheaterWorks Community Players while still a student and continued with BlackBox Theatre since 2007.

“It allowed me to act and perform on stage,” he said. “I’m very passionate about the arts — about acting and dancing.”

Before moving to Roanoke, Pendleton also worked for the Boys and Girls Club of Martinsville.

Bowles, of Martinsville, graduated from Cornerstone Christian Academy in Townsend, Ga., in 2008 and then worked as a dietary services technician at the Kings Grant community.

Now she is a Zumba instructor at Martinsville YMCA, Patrick Henry Community College and Gym 24 in Martinsville.

“I was a ‘taker’ in a Zumba class, lost 52 pounds and they asked me to teach,” Bowles said. “It’ll be a year in September. They call me the ‘Zumba Queen.’”

In addition to her Zumba training, Bowles also has a musical background and some dance experience.

“I was in plays and in school musicals,” Bowles said. “I love the theater stuff, too.”

Hollingsworth, of Martinsville, is a dance professional with a bachelor’s degree in dance as a performing art from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. She also performs with the Black Box Theatre.

Until recently, Hollingsworth ran the Ray Hollingsworth Studio of Dance as director. Her husband Ray started the studio in 1966 and she joined in 1967. They were married shortly after that.

Ray, who passed away in 2008, was the ballroom dance teacher in the couple. Cindy is quick to say that she is not a certified ballroom dance instructor.

“He pushed me around the floor,” she said.

Pendleton and Bowles both were recruited for the dance competition through people at Piedmont Arts.

Pendleton said Brandon Adams, the director of exhibitions at Piedmont Arts, encouraged him to compete.

“I think he didn’t ask me — he told me I was doing it,” Pendleton said with a laugh.

Bowles was recruited by the Piedmont Arts director.

“Kathy Rogers comes to my Zumba classes in Collinsville,” Bowles said. “She asked me and of course I said ‘yes’ because it’s for a good cause.”

“But then she (Bowles) got me as a partner,” Pendleton said with a laugh.

“It’s great having Cindy (Hollingsworth) as a coach,” Pendleton said. “She’s our ‘Maw.’ We need the funny votes” to win the dance competition.

"Both of them have grown a lot as non-dancers,” Hollingsworth said.

Pendleton’s mother, Lori Manning, lives in the Pleasant Grove area and his father, Eddie Pendleton, lives in the Sanville area. His sister, Logan Pendleton, is a junior at Bassett High School; his brother, Odell Lynch Jr., and another sister, Octavia Lynch, both are in Martinsville.

Bowles lives in Martinsville with her husband, Jeb Bowles; her son Demerius Lynch, 5, a daughter Autumn Bowles, 3, and a son Djebril Bowles, 1. Her parents, Tarama and Odell Lynch, also live in Martinsville.


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