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THE JEFFERSON AWARDS: Our July winner connects people through dance

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) – Every month FOX 47 features someone in our community who is making a difference and we honor them with a Jefferson Award.

Our July winner has been a professional dancer for more than 35 years, and she uses her passion for the arts to inspire others.

When she’s not teaching lessons at Dahl Dance, chances are you’ll find April Dahl giving free dance lessons throughout the community, like Social Steps on Peace Plaza, the annual Hangar Dance, and Salsa Night at Rochesterfest.

In fact, she’s always liked getting people to dance.

“It doesn’t matter what venue I’m at,” she said. “If I go to a wedding and I see somebody who doesn’t know what to do, I’m going to pull them out on the dance floor and get them moving.”

One of her biggest volunteer endeavors is choreographing the annual Dancing for the Arts show, which pairs local celebrities with professional dancers to raise funds for youth arts education.

“I work with all of the couples so I’m setting choreography so they can work extra if they want to, but then there’s time outside of the studio as well so I’ve got to come up with the choreography, I’ve got to come up with the music.”

One of those local celebrities from last year’s show, Ben Tilson, learned to dance from April. That’s why he nominated her for the Jefferson Award.

“I really respect anyone who takes their talents and uses it to better the community,” Tilson said. “Not only that but better the future and better the arts as well. She’s always willing to go out of her way to volunteer, she’s always there to support other events in Rochester.”

Supporting others is April’s goal. She believes it only takes one person to make a difference.

“When I was in my early 20s I didn’t really feel called to teach but I had known in high school that what I was called to do in my life was encourage others,” she said. “I was really fortunate to have a couple dance teachers and a swim coach that pushed me but were pivotal in encouraging me and we need those people in our lives that are going to be the person that say ‘hey, you can do this.'”

April says she’s already hard at work planning for the next Dancing for the Arts, which is set to take place next May.

And if you know someone who’s also making a difference, you can nominate them for a Jefferson Award here.

Erin O'Brien

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