Kinesis fundraises for family of beloved dance teacher

Ronn Stewart, a teacher at Foster Dance Studio, passed away in September

The+Kinesis+dancers+donated+their+time+in+raising+money+as+a+memorial+for+Dance+Instructor+Ronn+Stewart
The Kinesis dancers donated their time in raising money as a memorial for Dance Instructor Ronn Stewart

The Kinesis dancers donated their time in raising money as a memorial for Dance Instructor Ronn Stewart

Wininsky

Wininsky

The Kinesis dancers donated their time in raising money as a memorial for Dance Instructor Ronn Stewart

Eleanor Kaplan

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On October 22, Kinesis Dance Company held a charity car wash as a memorial for Foster Dance artistic director and co-founder Ronn Stewart.

“Stewart’s passing was a blow to our dance community,” said Kinesis director Johannah Wininsky. Many Kinesis students attend Foster Dance Studio in Evanston.

The annual car wash, dubbed the Kinesis Kar Wash, raised $1,200. Each year, Kinesis students have the opportunity to choose which cause they would like to donate to.

Because of the personal connection many students had with Stewart, this cause felt like a natural decision. The next step was to promote the event. This included creating and wearing colorful t-shirts the Friday before and collecting towels and buckets.

The car wash took place in the parking lot behind the school and about fifty cars came on that Saturday, according to Kinesis director Christopher Rutt.

Music played at every washing station and “everyone was having a good time,” said senior Louisa Perrin.

The positive atmosphere “kept our energy up throughout the 3 hours,” said senior Katie Lorenz. As cars flowed in and out, students had time to reflect on the influence that Stewart had on their lives.

“I only spoke with him a couple times, but even a small interaction with him left a huge mark on my heart,” said Perrin.

Stewart also had a significant impact on the dance community. He created a new dance technique that he called More People Dancing, or MoPeD, which became a popular class at his studio.

In the class, “You don’t stop moving the entire time, and you just allow yourself and everyone else to improv without judgement,” said Perrin. The rules of this innovative style are to “keep going, suspend judgment, listen, remember why you are here, and do it with love,” according to the Foster Dance Studio website.

A Go-Fund-Me account has been created by a friend of Stewart’s wife. The fundraiser has received over $34,000 that will go to supporting Stewart’s wife and co-founder of Foster Dance Studio, Sarah Goldstone, and her child that is due in February.

Junior Sarah Meyers, who dances at Foster, said, “fundraising for this cause is important because it is so close to the studios heart.”

In addition to fundraising, Kinesis is preparing for their winter performance on Feb. 8, 9, and 10. It is the company’s thirtieth anniversary, and Wininsky is excited to show off the “sophisticated, innovative, and high-quality artwork” that the student-choreographed company produces.

Typically, the annual car wash brings in about $1,000-$1,500. The car wash has no prices and instead relies on the idea that people will donate what they can to the cause.

Half of the money raised goes to the foundation of the student’s choosing, while the other half is used for the costume budget for the various Kinesis performances throughout the year.

Last year, Kinesis donated their car wash fundraising money to the Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation in honor of the late Tim Estberg.

Four years prior, said Wininsky, “the company had their most involved fundraiser ever.” The cause was Supplies for Dreams, a foundation started by Kinesis alumna Aria Fiat. The organization delivers school supplies in backpacks to students at Chicago Public Schools.

That year, Kinesis donated their time as well as money to the organization, participating in multiple field trips to Chicago to package and distribute the backpacks. The organization that the company raises funds for is typically close to their hearts.

Stewart’s passing affected many Kinesis members personally, as they had attended the studio since they were kids, explained Lorenz.

Although she only attended a few of his classes, Lorenz said of Stewart: “He was one of few people in this world who I can honestly say impacted so many people for the better, and he will be truly missed by everyone who knew him.”

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