MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Many folks in the Sound Shore area know about Dance Cavise , the studio opened by Joe Cavise, a former "Mr. Mistoffolees" in the Broadway show, "Cats."
What many do not know, however, is how the Mamaroneck-based company has shaped and mentored girls of all ages with tremendous personal growth opportunities.
Cavise, a Bedford resident, is big into philanthropy and to that end has his dancers performing in children's hospitals where students do shows and dance with terminally ill kids.
A byproduct of this, according to Glen Coben, a Harrison resident and father of a long-time student, is how graduating seniors are getting into top colleges because of how mature and dedicated they are. Colleges for this year's crop of students include Northwestern, Washington University, and Cornell.
Cavise chalks up his success -- the company is 27 years old -- to his teaching philosophy. "We are a non-recital oriented program and focus on dance technique and not the end of the year performance," he said. " Yes, we do offer a year end show, but, again, it's not our focus."
His philanthropic work through Off Center Dance Theatre , his not for profit group, is where Cavise's true passion is ignited -- and where parents like Coben see it making a difference.
"Working with children who are mentally, emotionally, or and physically challenged, who might never dance like most of my students, but feeling the love and passion of movement simply because it makes them feel better ... that’s the power of dance for me,' said Cavise. "I've often said that if I can make a child forget their problems for just 10 minutes by dancing, well that's a reward that's priceless to me."
Cavise also works closely with the Bedford Central School District as well as several schools in the White Plains School System through a program he developed called Beyond Ballroom. The program teaches elementary school children to learn not only social dance and etiquette, but also how to work as a team on something they have never done before and accomplish a goal.
Perhaps nothing is better, however, than the affirmation from Cavise's students, among them Coben's daughter Maya who said: "Joe gives us the opportunity to push ourselves not only as dancers, but as humans through the work we do with Off Center (Dance Theater) where we do workshops at local children’s hospitals with terminally ill kids. It makes me sad, but happy that I can bring them a little bit of joy.
"I have been dancing at Dance Cavise for the last 11 years and have grown so much as a dancer and as a person."
Go to www.dancecavise.com/ for more information.