The rhythmic moving and shaking of attendees of a dance for people with intellectual and developmental disorders was disrupted Thursday evening when a flash mob of dancers stole the show.
Dancers were participating in a Funlovers’ Dance, put on by The Arc Smith County. The Arc is a nonprofit organization that organizes two summer camps, dances and other fun activities for adults with mental challenges, such as Down syndrome and autism.
About an hour into the festivities, the music changed from hip-hop to the 1980s classic “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins, and dancers clad in pink shirts from the Tyler Civic Theatre’s production of “Footloose.”
The play was adapted for the stage from the classic 1984 film, in which a peaceful small town is shaken up by a newcomer who introduces racy dance moves, according to the theater’s website. It also includes a variety of ’80s tunes from the movie.
After the dance, the crowd erupted in applause, and the production’s cast broke apart to dance a few songs with attendees.
Stephen Rainwater, the show’s director, said the group happened to be having practice next door to the center and wanted to join the party. He said The Arc will also have their own showing of the musical at a dress rehearsal before the show opens to the public
“This is my first flash mob, ever,” Rainwater, 30, of Tyler said. “The joy on everyone’s faces, the excitement, you could just feel it in the room. I can’t help but smile. I have an eternal smile because of it.”
He said the dancers went back to practice with an enhanced enthusiasm. The attendees kept on moving to the beat.
The dances are held once every two months and are well-attended, with about 300 people at each dance, organizers said.
Annie Fallwell, who has volunteered with the organization for six years, said it is also an opportunity for those with intellectual and developmental disorders to cut lose, have fun and feel normal. She likened it to going out to the club, and everyone was having a good time and smiling.
“When you come here there is no handicap, there is no difference — everyone is just free to be — and that’s what is so great about it,” Ms. Fallwell said.
The Arc started in 1961, and has been hosting dances since the 1980s, said Rhonda Boaz, program director for the organization. The organization serves about 1,000 people in East Texas.
To learn more about The Arc Smith County or to donate, visit arcofsmithcounty.org.
The “Footloose” cast will perform at the Tyler Civic Theatre, 400 Rose Park Drive. Show dates are July 11 through 14, July 18 through 21 and July 25 through 28. There also will be a special friends night on July 8 for The Arc, and attendees are asked to wear prom or dressy attire to the event.
Showtimes and ticket information is available by visiting tylercivictheatre.com or by calling 903-592-0561.