A non-profit organization, 24-VII Danceforce Studio is home base for many of Hawaii’s Dance Superstars. Several have become professional dancers for such well-known artists as Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Pink, hip-hop dance groups Fanny Pak and 8 Flavahz, as well as on Broadway and in movies and television. The studio is also home base for HeartBeat.
HeartBeat is a special free dance program for intellectually challenged individuals. It consists of approximately 30 students paired with a volunteer dancer for one-on-one instruction. Launched in 2007, HeartBeat is directed by Marcelo Pacleb. Its first co-directors/choreographers were siblings Ashley and Jonelle Layfield–who served as Miss Hawaii and Miss Hawaii USA, respectively. Additionally, they are former dancers with 24-VII Danceforce. Currently, HeartBeat’s choreographers are Cara Horibe and Madison Wai-Recante.
Many of Hawaii’s Dance Superstars were once volunteer dancers or instructors with HeartBeat, and all are a testament to 24-VII Danceforce fulfilling its mission: continually motivating and creating as a company in the art of dance and in life; helping participants grow as individuals and become people of good character and integrity; teaching them compassion for others and inspiring others to reach their highest potential.
HeartBeart began as a pilot project but quickly grew into the current program as students excelled in their abilities to express themselves through dance.
HeartBeat has participated in more than 75 performances throughout Oahu. Some of its accomplishments include winning the 2008 Hawaii Stars Extraordinary Abilities Talent Show, sponsored by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and performing in numerous studio concerts. The dancers are encouraged to perform in concerts and to audition for outside performances.
HeartBeat dancers donate their talents to perform for and teach some of their moves to others with physical and intellectual disabilities. They have performed several times at Peters Prom, a prom for high school students with special needs, as well as for other community functions. In addition, they have appeared on Hawaii’s local television and radio stations, in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and HeartBeat made the front page of the July 21, 2015 issue of Midweek Magazine. These young people inspire those they meet, and they love to share their passion for dancing.
Performances of a Lifetime
On July 24, 2015, a long-awaited dream came true. HeartBeat performed at the Special Olympics World Games Welcoming Ceremonies in Los Angeles, California, in front of hundreds of people. Another dream came true on July 27, 2015, when Heartbeat appeared at Disneyland’s California Adventure Park’s Performing Arts Stage.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
HeartBeat continues to grow and the program has received a number of grants from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. A branch of 24-VII’s HeartBeat class, called “The Heartbeat Movement,” has begun in Los Angeles, California.