The spring dance recital at Potomac High School in Oxon Hill has become as much of a year-end ritual as the prom. And last Friday night the stage was jammed with colorfully dressed dancers moving every direction as current and former Potomac dancers got together once again.
Nearly 40 dancers making up the Potomac High School and award-winning Ruth Shelton Dance companies strutted their best modern, Alvin Ailey-type stuff in fun and precision under the direction of instructor Shelton. Several of the 12 selections were choreographed by Potomac alumni.
The crowd pleasers were an African dance performed by the entire group; the worm-like antics of the very agile Kevin Love and Nelton Castro, and a steamy number called "Love Is," danced by Raeshun Costley and Kenneth Pervine.
The Ruth Shelton troupe, composed primarily of former Potomac students, has become known locally: It tied with Duke Ellington School for the Arts for first place in dance in the 1981 Metro Talent Search and danced off solo with the title last year.
The companies do not dance professionally but they do several performances each year for charitable organizations. Their only sources of funding for these shows are private donations and profits from the spring recital.
Sandara Banks, who returned to her alma mater to dance last Friday, said the reason the students are so good is because "Miss Shelton is so hard." Banks is still dancing and studying dentistry at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she has completed her freshman year.
Shelton concurs with Banks, "I'm a stern person and I insist on perfection." She said that the students must practice after school as well as on Saturdays and must maintain a high 'C' average to stay in the company.
Shelton, who was trained at Howard University, came to Potomac in 1972 where she began the first dance program in Prince George's County Schools. "Teen-agers needed a form of the arts," she said.
The teachers' discipline has paid off. Willie Washington, a 1979 Potomac graduate, is now a dance instructor. He recently danced in "The Wiz" at Howard University, and has been chosed as a semi-finalist in the Dance Fever contest. He will go to California to compete in the finals this summer.
Carl Butcher, a 1974 graduate, runs a drama company in the District. And Donna Hunt, who graduates this year, was a 1982 recipient of a summer dance scholarship from the Maryland Center for the Arts.
Another senior, Rodney Taylor, was shaking with a dancer's high after Friday's performance. His artistic endeavors have earned him one of thirty $2,500 dance scholarships from the National Arts Association, which he can use at a college of his choice. "I think I won because I really put my heart into it. I go for the gusto."