WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Taking the competition out of dance and replacing it with comradery.

This is the goal for the upcoming Dance for Life fundraising event in the North Country set to be held on Wednesday, May 18.

This event invites performances from local dance studios and organizations. It includes a wide range of age groups, performance styles and genres.

However, at the event students and the audience are united through messages of service and education on how cancer continues to impact the North Country.

Dance for Life was started back in 2005 by a group of dancers and families at Dance World in Watertown. It was started with the idea of bringing community involvement to dance as each participant is asked to fundraise leading up to their performance.

“The fundraiser is a way for our arts community to come together, to support the Relay for Life for the North Country,” Dance World’s Heather Miner said. “We wanted to find a way for the students to give back to the community and to work together with other arts organizations to show their talents and provide support for the community.”

Over the years Dance for Life has raised close to $60,000 to help the American Cancer Society in its fight to find a cure.

Students who have been with Dance World since they were toddlers and participated in the event for almost a decade explained their main takeaways.

“I think it just completes the circle of what Dance World is about,” Larissa Wiltse shared. “We’re about keeping dancers growing and changing and making sure they’re involved in everything they’re doing throughout their whole life. Really setting them up for success in all aspects.

“We will come together, support our community, to support one another and to support each other studios,” Alina Ramos added.

Again joining Dance World this year for the event are students from Rhonda’s FootWorks in Watertown. Dancers Katelyn Taylor and Brylie Schultheis agreed with their peers from across town.

“To me, it means that we get to show our dances and it’s going to a really good cause,” Taylor expressed.

“It shows me that like I care and I want to dance to support people,” Schultheis added. “I don’t really even care if someone is better than me, I just want to community my community.

Rhonda’s FooteWorks Director Rhonda Foote shared her excitement and joined Miner to explain that the event aims to teach students the importance of community involvement.

“We’re role modeling for our students to show that dance is not competition. Dance is community it’s not necessarily where you dance. It’s to appreciate each other’s work and artistry in a non-competitive arena,” Foote explained.

“We really want to teach students that it’s important to be present in your community and support the community and to give back and show support for everybody there,” Miner concluded.

Dance for Life will take place in the Sacred Heart Foundation Gymnasium located at 320 West Lynde Street. The event is free and open to the public.