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Month-long event features Philadanco, Baltimore Dance Project and Fifth Grade Ballroom Dancers

Take a Leap, a month-long-plus Baltimore County Dance Celebration, takes to the stage February 2 - March 18, 2017. The celebration, now in its fourth year, highlights the range of dance styles offered on Baltimore County stages, from ballet to ballroom to contemporary. 

“This is one more exciting way we are bringing the performing arts into our communities. Baltimore County has gathered our rich and varied dance community to create opportunities to ‘take a leap’ and try something new,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. 

“Take a Leap is a wonderful partnership between Baltimore County, the Gordon Center and our dance community. The styles and range of performances are designed for dance lovers and performers, as well as a lively introduction to dance for all ages and interests,” said Randi Benesch, Managing Director of Arts & Culture for the Gordon Center for Performing Arts and Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore.  

In addition to the featured performances, Philadanco will stage a special performance for Baltimore County Public School students and conduct youth master classes. 

Featured performances include:

BCPS Grade 5 Ballroom Showcase February 3, 2017 6:30 p.m.  New Town High School

Come and meet those dancing feet! Fifth graders from throughout Baltimore County Public Schools come together to showcase their ballroom dancing skills.  A free family event.

Baltimore Dance Project February 9, 10, 11, 2017 8:00 p.m. UMBC 

Edgy collaborations among dancers, sound and visual artists, with premieres of Doug Hamby’s Duet, Sandra Lacy’s mysterious new solo Lost, and Carol Hess’ reconstruction of Janet Soares’ Image in Red for dancer Franki Trout. Additional works include Carol Hess’ Dolled Up, examining the interiors of five women in fancy dresses. Original scores by sound artist Timothy Nohe and composer Anna Rubin. 

Alan Hineline: Ballet Showcase and Meet the Artist February 10, 2017 6:00 p.m. Goucher College

Meet the artist and enjoy a showcase of a ballet segment by Alan Hineline. Hineline’s artistic and management leadership talents have served Ballet San Jose, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Ballet Phillipines. His body of work is in the repertories of American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and The Juilliard Dance Ensemble.

Ariel Rivka Dance February 12, 2017 4:00 p.m. Gordon Center for Performing Arts 

This New York company performs The Book of Esther: The Journey of Queen Vashti and Queen Esther and other works. This evening-length narrative dance work with an original score written by David Homan explores the biblical stories of Queen Vashti and Queen Esther, which epitomize the traditions of community and collaboration. 

The Peking Acrobats February 19, 2017 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Gordon Center for Performing Arts

The Peking Acrobats’ daring acrobatic maneuvers deftly defy gravity with amazing displays of contortion, flexibility and control. A family event, all with the rhythm, choreography and beauty of dancers.  

Towson University Dance Majors Performance Projects February 23, 24, 25, 2017 7:00 p.m. Towson University Center for the Arts 

A concert featuring unique performances by Towson University dance majors. 

Philadanco February 25, 2017 8:00 p.m. Gordon Center for Performing Arts

Experience the artistry of The Philadelphia Dance Company, aka Piladanco, long recognized for its artistic integrity, superbly trained dancers and electrifying performances. Philadanco is celebrated for its innovation, creativity and preservation of predominantly African-American traditions in dance.

Baltimore Dance Invitational February 26, 4:00 p.m. Gordon Center for Performing Arts

The Baltimore Dance Invitational (BDI) draws the region's top talent together for an eclectic evening of original dance. Dance companies are selected through a juried process that represents high-quality professional dance from the Baltimore region and beyond. Hosted by Baltimore's own The Collective Dance Company.

Maryland Dance Alliance Friday, March 3 Gordon Center for Performing Arts

Sponsored by the Maryland Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, over 300 high school dancers will compete in this adjudicated program.

Steppin’ at the Junction Featuring Charm City Junction and Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble March 18, 2017  8:30 p.m. Gordon Center for Performing Arts

Acoustic roots band Charm City Junction joins forces with the legendary Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble to bring you "Steppin’ at the Junction," an evening of old-time, Irish, bluegrass-inspired music and dance.

Tickets and full event calendar are available at

Take a Leap is presented by the Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences in partnership with the Gordon Center for Performing Arts in Owings Mills and Baltimore County’s dance community. 

Show highlights police body cameras, public works, and Holidays at Hampton

The latest edition of Baltimore County’s half-hour cable television public affairs show, “Hello Baltimore County,” focuses on the Police Department's body cameras program, Department of Public Works operations and holiday events at the Hampton National Historic Site in Towson.

Body Cameras – Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger offers his perspective as the County’s head prosecutor.

ICYMI – In case you missed it, we review some recent headlines from your County government.

In the Trenches Every Day – Public Works Director Steve Walsh shares some surprising stats on the work DPW does to keep our daily lives on track.

Holidays at Hampton – Find out what the Hampton National Historic Site has in store to ring in the Yuletide season.

To view streaming video of the show, go to the Hello Baltimore County page at . Click on the menu icon in the upper left of the video screen to select an individual segment.

In addition to online access, the program runs several times per week on Cable Channel 25, in Baltimore County, at the following times:

Mondays: 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m.

Tuesdays: 12 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9 p.m.

Wednesdays: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 10 p.m.

Thursdays: 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 8 p.m.

Fridays: 11 a.m., 6 p.m.

Saturdays: 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

Sundays: 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

By Bronwyn Mitchell, Maryland Agricultural Resource Council

It’s known by many names -- Indian, ornamental and flint. It comes in all of the shades and hues of the season. It was key in unlocking genetic mysteries which led to a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. It is maize – the colorful varieties to be correct.  

Many mistakenly call maize corn. However corn was an ancient German/French term used before the 1600s to refer to the major crop in a region. For instance England’s corn was wheat, while Scotland’s corn was likely oats. Therefore, when Columbus took maize, the major crop of the Native Americans, he would have likely referred to it as Indian corn – and for some reason when the word corn fell out of fashion, it somehow stuck to this particular grain. 

Like the majority of our grains, maize is a grass. Its seeds are, in fact fruits. A cob is a collection of flowers. When a flower is pollinated, a kernel emerges. The male portion of the flower is the tassel found at the top of the plant. This is where the pollen lies. Maize relies upon wind rather than bees or other animals for pollination. The female part of the flower are those pesky silks – each one connected to a single kernel. A grain of pollen must find its way to and through the silk to complete the pollination process. Amazing feats of engineering go into every ear.

Corn naturally comes in different colors, just like the natural variations in color of all living things, including humans. Selective breeding is the reason why the corn we eat and grow for stock feed is all consistently yellow or whitish. Thankfully, someone thought it aesthetically important to maintain the existence of colorful corn. Our doors, fence posts, and tables would be naked without them.  

A farmer can be careful and plant only a single color to maintain purity. Or a farmer can throw the genetic dice and see what crazy combinations occur. Remember that each kernel relies on a single grain of pollen from another plant.

Take a look at this crazy ear. It must have been a windy day to get such a multitude of variation on one ear. Those variations are pretty easy to understand – thanks to the pioneering work of Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, and his pea plants.

Take a closer look at these kernels. They are not a solid color. Some of them are mottled, striped or dotted. The why behind this phenomena was answered by another scientist who dedicated her life studying a single plant – maize.

Born in 1902 Dr. Barbara McClintock attended Cornell University's College of Agriculture where tuition was free. Barbara continued to study, earning her PhD and dedicating her life to research.

There weren’t too many doors of opportunity available to women in the sciences at that time. As a woman, she was not allowed to be a professor. Instead, she supported herself with a grant from the National Research Council, conducting research wherever she could borrow lab and field space.

Dr. McClintock discovered that the patterns in maize were caused by genes moving from one part of a chromosome to another. Scientifically speaking, the phenomena is known as a transposon, or jumping gene for the non-scientists. A gene will move from a pigment area portion of the chromosome to a non-pigment area or vice-versa, thereby turning on or turning off the gene and creating different patterns within the kernel.

When the research was first presented, it was roundly rejected by the greater scientific community because it didn’t follow in the Mendel mold. Undaunted, Dr. McClintock continued to amass additional data. When other scientists studying other organisms happened upon jumping genes,  Dr. McClintock was finally given the due she deserved. In fact, her discovery opened the door to understanding antibacterial resistance as well as giving insights into cancer.

In 1993, Dr. McClintock was the first women awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the groundbreaking research that started by looking closely at ears of colorful maize.

Think you may have a Nobel Prize winner in your family? Start them off on the right road by leading them into the Pick Your Own ornamental corn fields at the Maryland Agricultural Resource Center in Cockeysville. The fields are open from sunrise to sunset. It’s $1 per ear or $2 per stalk.

Nothing goes better with ornamental corn than wine and French Jazz. Make plans to come out for a Picking Party and wreath making workshops at the Maryland Agriculture Resource Center Sunday, October 16 from 10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Revised September 26, 2016