Each month, Central Penn Parent features a child who is doing great things. They pitch in to make a difference in their schools, places of worship and throughout their communities. They are a blessing to those around them—yet their efforts often go unrecognized. We want to thank them for a job well done! Each child receives a cape and a prize package from our sponsors.
Jordan Baney and Hailey Maser love everything about their Irish dance group.
Whether it’s getting to dance and jump around for a couple hours a week or just getting the opportunity to see some friends they otherwise don’t see, each trip to Rebel Hearts Irish Dance in Camp Hill is something the two 11-year-olds look forward to each week.
Still, there is one performance that stands out not just for them, but for the rest of their classmates.
In 2013, Rebel Hearts partnered with two Irish bands to put together Celtic Celebrations, an Irish song and dance show with all the proceeds going toward charity. Its inaugural performance raised $6,500 for relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy, before tallying $4,310 in December for the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors.
With live music slated to accompany them, Jordan, Hailey and the rest of the dancers had their work cut out for them. After months of preparation, they were ready.
“It made me feel good that I was able to do something that I loved and that affected other people’s lives in such a positive way,” Jordan said. “It was hard work getting ready, but the hard work paid off.”
After the first show, Rebel Hearts company director Stephanie Oscilowski said it was clear just how successful the performance was. It wasn’t the money they raised, though, that made that obvious, but how excited her students were to be a part of a cause.
“Normally they are pumped up after a show, but this time was a little different,” Oscilowski said. “After the first one, all they kept asking was, ‘When are we going to get to do this again. This is awesome.’”
In the works
Around the same time that Oscilowski opened up Rebel Hearts in Camp Hill, her friends were in the process of starting an Irish band, “Seasons.”
They had hoped to collaborate on a show for a while, but it took until 2013 before they finally made it happen.
Oscilowski loved the idea of allowing her students to be able to not just perform for an audience, which they routinely do, but to be able to do so with a live band—“Seasons” and “The Celtic Martins”—providing the music.
“It was a lot better dancing with a band that was right there with us instead of just a recording,” Hailey said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Around the time of their first meeting for the project, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. It was then the three groups involved determined they could make this performance something special.
“We all had family members affected by the storm, and without any further discussion, we decided to make the project a benefit for victims of the hurricane,” Oscilowski said. “We decided to give the money to the Red Cross for the disaster relief division.”
Closer to home
After the overwhelming success of Celtic Celebrations in its first year, there was no question that Rebel Hearts—a troupe of a few dozen students—wanted to do it again.
Instead of just giving to the Red Cross again, though, the group decided that this year’s recipient should be closer to home. With the thought of keeping the money in Pennsylvania, they found the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors and from there it was a no-brainer.
“We liked the idea of helping Pennsylvania vets and we were impressed with all that PA Wounded Warriors does and the percentage of money that actually goes to helping the vets,” Oscilowski said.
In all, they raised $4,310 for the Wounded Warriors. What was really cool for the troupe, too, was getting to see some of the veterans in the audience watching them perform.
Two girls who attend Rebel Hearts, but were too young to perform at Celtic Celebrations, have a father in the National Guard who had been away on training and just came back in time for the show.
“To have him in the audience, that was really special for the kids,” Oscilowski said. “They were excited to have a vet like the ones they were raising money for be able to be there and see them dance.”
Christopher Hopkins is the assistant editor/web for Central Penn Parent.