Glen Burnie High School showcases its students' interests each semester with "An Evening of Dance."
Tickets to the school's semiannual event often sell out. Saturday's affair will consist of 33 performances, many featuring some of the more than 250 students who are either enrolled in dance classes or members of the two after-school dance clubs.
With 18 different sections, Glen Burnie has the state's largest dance program at a public high school. Much of the enthusiasm derives from the "Dance for the Athlete" class, which helps boys and girls develop coordination and agility for sports such as lacrosse, football and basketball.
The athlete class attracts boys who might not consider dance otherwise. Coaches support it as well. Performances of the show are scheduled to accommodate baseball and basketball playoffs.
"There's no stigma at all," said dance teacher Dianne Rosso, who calls the Glen Burnie program her "third child."
Some boys take the class to learn popular dance moves, rather than more traditional dance forms.
"If it were like ballet class, I wouldn't do it," said Devin Rodgers, a 16-year-old sophomore who plays soccer.
"We don't really have too many ballerina guys," said senior Tammy Johnson, 18.
Some alumni of the dance program have gone on to teach dance at studios or perform professionally, Rosso said.
She first offered the class for athletes in 1993.
"I'm a staunch believer that dance is for everyone," she said.
Even students who don't pursue professional dance careers learn staging, poise, rhythm and an appreciation for dance's challenges.
"Dancing pretty much helps anything you can think of," said Michelle Combs, who graduated from Glen Burnie in 2003. Now a member of the New York City Dance Alliance, she returned to choreograph one performance for the show and to perform in it.
Students practicing for Combs' hip-hop number raved about the dance program.
"It boosted my energy a lot," said basketball player Katrina Mallett, a 17-year-old junior. More importantly, it's helped her confidence.
"If I can do this, I can do anything," she said.
Taronce Stowes agreed.
The 17-year-old junior, a running back on the football team and a guard on the basketball team, said he has gained confidence as well.
"It brought my potential out in me," he said.
Said Combs: "You just let out all of your emotions."
"An Evening of Dance" will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Glen Burnie High School, 7550 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd., Glen Burnie. Tickets cost $5. Information: 410-761-8950.