Hugs From Young Choreographers is an annual charity event held at the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance main studio. The program is a showcase of original choreographic works by the top level company members of Roswell Dance Theatre (the in-house company at Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance). They present three benefit performances.

The Choreographers select a charity each year that will be the recipient of the funds raised at HUGS. In the past charities have included The Kyle Pease Foundation, Family Promise, Foster Care Support Foundation, Erin’s Hope for Friends, Camp Grace, Butterfly Wishes for Ellie, Star House and many, many others. While HUGS weekend is a chance for our Choreographers and their dancers to showcase their talents to the public, through the process they truly learn how much more blessed it is to give than to receive.


Just after company placements are announced in early June, the Choreographers meet with the event coordinator Associate Director Mary Lynn Taylor (Mrs. Mary) to select their casts. No dancer from any level of the company is allowed to be in more than 3 dances, as the rehearsal schedule gets quite challenging. The Choreographers contact each member of their casts and when the list is set, they select music that fits their vision and get to work scheduling rehearsals. It is a lot of work to develop their ideas into a masterpiece!

Participation in the HUGS opening number is open to all Ballet Company (levels 1-14) or Movement Collective dancers who want to get involved with HUGS.


It is completely up to the Choreographers to teach and rehearse their piece with their cast throughout the summer and early fall. Since many dancers travel to summer intensives this can be tricky.

Rehearsals for the HUGS opening number are not held until the beginning of the school year, after all interested company dancers have had a chance to join the cast.

When HUGS weekend is just a week or two away, Mrs. Mary schedules and directs a full dress rehearsal to iron out the kinks in the schedule and help the dancers put the final polish on their pieces.


This year HUGS performances will be held on the Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon of HUGS weekend. The performance schedule is as follows:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
HUGS Setup Afternoon Matinee
Early Matinee
Late Matinee

Along with the shows, the parents of the HUGS Choreographers put on a silent auction to raise additional funds for the recipient charity. The HUGS auction will be managed completely online and will open about a week before the event. Auction item winners can claim their items the week immediately following the shows.

Additionally, we will have a very special collection of decorated pointe shoes created by this year’s choreographers available for sale.

I want to find a way to participate in this amazing experience.