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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: This dance class caters to the dancing challenged


I have nothing but awkward, Elaine Benes-style dance moves. But my lack of coordination and disregard for the personal space of others won’t stop me from trying a new dance fitness class created by one of Memorial High School’s most famous graduates.

Aaron Tolson said Sole Power Fitness is for everyone, even the double left-footed like me.

“You don’t have to have any rhythm, any dance experience,” he promised.

Tolson is well-known around Manchester for two things — tap and track. The 1993 graduate broke all kinds of sprinting records during his time at Memorial, and even qualified for the United States Olympic Trials in 1992. At the same time, he had already begun a prestigious performing career that includes national and international tours of Riverdance, and performances on Broadway, on Radio City Music Hall and tap festivals all over the world.

It was only natural that Tolson combine his two passions — fitness and dance — to create Sole Power Fitness. He has been developing the class for more than a year, teaching master classes at gyms around New York, where he lives and also works on the faculty of Broadway Dance Center.

“This is going to help introduce tap dancing to more people,” said Tolson.

It’s also a great workout. Tolson said students can burn 400 to 700 calories in a class, as well as strengthen major muscle groups. And, he said, people are so focused on the instructor and the dance moves that they often forget they are exercising.

“I know it’s a fun class. I know it’s effective,” he said.

Tolson admits he is not the first person to come up with a tap dance fitness class. But he did do something that revolutionized the concept and makes it easier for gyms to offer the class. Tolson developed a unique shoe cover that can fit over any sneaker, and make a pretty good tap sound without damaging a gym floor.

On Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19, he will be bringing the class to two gyms, and give his native city a taste of what he’s been up to. Envy Sports Club on Queen City Avenue will host the July 18 class at 10:30 a.m. and The Zoo in Derry will host the July 19 class at 11 a.m.

Envy owner Savino Auciello, also a Memorial graduate, said he is excited to host Tolson’s first class in Manchester.

“Envy Sports Club is always offering cutting edge fitness classes and “Sole Power” is right up our alley as an addition to our already explosive class schedule,” he wrote to The Scene.

The classes at both gyms are open to anyone, but gym non-members will have to pay a $10 fee. Space is limited, and Tolson suggests calling the club you would like to attend to reserve a spot.

Tolson will soon be certifying Sole Power Fitness instructors, called “Solemates,” all over the country, and is hopeful he can build the company’s headquarters in New Hampshire. He and his wife, former Miss New Hampshire Emily Hughes, have a 2-year-old daughter Charlotte and are expecting a second baby girl in October. Tolson said it would be nice to raise his family in the community that has been so supportive of his career.

And I am sure his community would love to welcome them home.

You can learn more about Sole Power Fitness at www.solepowerfitness.com. You can follow Tolson and Sole Power on Twitter @taphero and @solepowernyc.

Stop heroin

It’s hard to find someone in Manchester who doesn’t know a family that has been ripped apart by heroin addiction. I know my fair share. And there is one acquaintance who is done being silent about her struggle.

“I’m done hiding,” said Crystal Bissonnette, who is now raising her 15-month-old grandson because of the effect heroin has had on his parents. She said her grandson is a joy to have, but this is not how she imagined her life after raising her own children.

“It devastates entire families, because the addict just takes advantage, and takes advantage,” she said. “We know it’s not the person that they are, it’s the addict in them. We love the child, not the addict.”

Bissonnette is organizing a Walking for Wellness: Stop Heroin event on Saturday, July 18. This walk isn’t about raising money, although a collection will be taken for the Manchester Recovery Community Center. It’s about raising awareness about this epidemic in our community, and bringing together people who have had their lives turned upside down because of this drug.

“I want people, more than anything, to know they are not alone,” Bissonette said.

Anyone who wants to attend the walk can show up on Elm Street, in front of Veterans Park at 10 a.m. For more information, search for "Walking for Wellness: Stop Heroin" on Facebook.

Fiesta time

This year’s Muchachos Drum and Bugle Corps’ annual Fiesta de Musica show will for the first time feature drumline battles, where drumline ensembles perform in head-to-head competition.

The Saturday, July 18, show will be held outside at Memorial High School. In addition to the Muchachos and Nashua’s Spartans Drum and Bugle Corps, there will be groups from around the Unites States and Canada.

Performing for the first time in New Hampshire will be the famed Bridgemen Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps from Bayonne, N.J. This group is recognized as the corps that created the first themed shows coupled with energetic, audience engaging theatrics and colorful uniforms.

Gates open at 4:30 p.m., and the show begins at 5:30 p.m. Several food trucks will be offering items for purchase.

Tickets for the show are $15 general admission and $17 reserved seating. They are available at the gate or online at www.muchachos.org.

NH365.org event of the week

The Majestic Theatre will present Ken Ludwig’s Comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” July 10 through 12.

The play is a tribute from Ken Ludwig, writer of “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo,” to the great English farces of the 1930s and 1940s.

Filled with mistaken identities, slamming doors, and over-the-top romantic shenanigans, it’s a madcap adventure about love, life and man’s eternal love affair with golf.

Majestic Theatre’s “Fox on the Fairway” is directed by Becky Rush of Pembroke, assisted by Aimee Baker of Manchester. It stars Chad Boutin of Manchester, Betty Fortin of Londonderry, Rodrick Grass of Chester, Glen Grimard of Lowell, Mass., Hannah Haskins of Enfield and Elizabeth Leach of Manchester.

Performances are at the Manchester Community Music School Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Visit www.NH365.org for ticket information.

If you have an interesting item for Scene in Manchester, write to Scene@UnionLeader.com.



Johnny A
Saturday, 8 p.m.

Monty Python's Spamalot
Friday, 7:30 p.m.,
Saturday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.,
Sunday, 2 p.m.

Concord Multicultural Festival
Saturday, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.