Arts & Culture / Community Notebook / Maywood Politics

Maywood’s Atmosphere of Tumbling is Vibrant | Stairway of the Stars Bids Church Adieu

Video footage of Atmosphere of Tumbling’s June 5 performance at Maywood Multipurpose Building. || Susie Ivy/Facebook|| Below: AOT founder Vernel Brown. 

Atmosphere of Tumbling III_060416Thursday, June 9, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

Quanesha Williams and her sister were brought to Atmosphere of Tumbling two years ago after her father decided to channel some of his daughters’ boundless energy into something organized and disciplined.

“Every summer we’d go outside and do cartwheels, so my dad put us in this,” said Williams, 7, of Glen Ellyn, during a performance put on by AOT at the Maywood Multipurpose Building, 200 S. 5th Ave., last Sunday.

Williams and her sister have been tumbling with AOT for two years now and they don’t appear to be leaving the organization any time soon. Williams said she appreciates the patient instruction.

“If we don’t know anything, the coaches just keep teaching us and then we eventually learn how to do it,” Williams said. “Like, I didn’t know how to do a backflip, so one of the coaches put a hand behind me and then moved it away and I just did it.”

Atmosphere is anchored by Maywood native and Maywood Fine Arts alum Vernel Brown, who serves as the organization’s director. His brother, Tobias Brown, is the organization’s sub-director. Both men also coach.

Vernel started as a pupil with Ernie Baumann’s legendary Mr. Ernie’s Flip, Flop and Fly tumbling organization and Lois Baumann’s Stairway of the Stars dance studio, both entities within the larger MFA nonprofit parent organization, before branching out on his own.

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Video footage of Atmosphere of Tumbling’s June 5 performance at Maywood Multipurpose Building. | Tiffany Priest/Facebook 

Brown is a part of an MFA family tree that, since the Baumanns began nearly 50 years ago, has planted roots across the country. The organization’s alum have shined at institutions like the Goodman Theater in Chicago and the New York City Ballet. Brown’s spawning, however, is unique in that he’s taken up the banner of tumbling and dance instruction in Maywood.

“I like [MFA’s] format, but as I got older I decided I wanted to do something a little different,” Brown said. “That’s how I ended up doing my own thing. So, I train a lot of tumblers now and am able to go into the schools with different programs. People even fly me places for instruction.”

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That AOT and MFA can successfully co-exist demonstrates that there’s more than enough room in the village for multiple players. Brown said that he services more than 100 people, ages 3 to 26. Many of them, like Williams, travel to Maywood from other communities.

Considering MFA’s more than 700 active enrollees, many of whom also come from outside the village, and Maywood starts looking like something of a quiet epicenter for arts instruction.

For Garfield Elementary Principal Marsha Alexander, the more organizations the better. Alexander was at Sunday’s performance to cheer on several of her students and to support Brown, who is a member of Garfield’s PTO.

“The students are so excited,” said Alexander. “When I walked in, the kids were so proud to showcase what they know. This gives them a sense of pride about their community. We know that extracurricular activities can boost student achievement. They have to maintain at least a ‘C’ average. Hopefully, we can bring the program into the schools.”

Jesse Young, 25, (pictured above), who lives in Chicago but often visits his grandmother in Maywood, said he’s been tumbling with Brown since he was about 10 years old.

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“I’ve been with them for all my life just about,” he said. “It’s a good thing to do. It keeps you out of the streets and into something positive.”

The dance group Disturbance is a living example of AOT’s positive force, which has the power to forge life-long bonds among its more than 100 participants. According to members Dayouan Payne, 17, and Noel Pinnock, 18, the 8-member group met through Brown’s introduction. They’ve been dancing together, the two said, since the 5th grade.

“We like to consider ourselves like brothers pretty much,” said Pinnock. “We’ve known each other for so long, our bond is really deep.”

For more information on Atmosphere of Tumbling, click here.

Stairway of the Stars rehearses for last time at First Congregational Church 

Stairway of the Stars

Stairway of the Stars dancers perform their final rehearsal at First Congregational Church in Maywood on June 4. 

Stairway of the Stars IIILast Saturday, Stairway of the Stars, the popular Maywood dance studio, held its final rehearsal at First Congregational Church of Maywood, 400 N. 5th Ave., said Stairway founder Lois Baumann.

Baumann said she and her Maywood Fine Arts team appreciate the church’s hospitality, but are eager to move into a facility of their own.

Since their old studio, located at 20 N. Fifth Avenue, burned down six years ago, the dance company has taken up residence in the historic church, where they utilize two floors for instruction.

Baumann anticipates moving into a new 9,000-square-foot, $1.5 million Fifth Avenue dance studio in August.

At their final rehearsal in the church on June 4, dancers were preparing for an upcoming show called “Too Many Mice!”

The performance will be held on Saturday, June 11, at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, June 12, at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for children 12-years-old and younger. For more information, call (708) 681-2788, or click hereVFP

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