YMCA Essence Legacy Performing Arts

YMCA Essence Legacy Performing Arts (E.L.) for youth has provided a safe outlet to area kids since 2016. It’s recently expanded from a Percussion & Drill team, to incorporate Majorette, Color Guard, Choir, and Cheerleading. A program that started with just 16 participants of drummers and steppers, has grown to over 90 performers enrolled within the five groups. Our members compete across the Mid-Atlantic, and support community organizations and events by performing and volunteering throughout the year.

Each year, our YMCA Essence Legacy Performing Arts youth team participates in up to 12 competitions in which we perform our art at a top level.
Over the years our team has finished top three at each national competition and earned four national championships.

We are highly committed to supporting our Wilmington and New Castle County Community.

On a yearly basis our team participates in over 20 community events in addition to our competition schedule.
This year we are on track to match the same commitments.

Some organizations/partnerships we support annually are:

  • United Way of Delaware
  • Afro-American Historical Society of Delaware, Inc.
  • Annual Bronx (NY) Halloween Parade
  • Mount Pleasant High School (Black Student Union)
  • John A. Watts Lodge (Annual Mother’s Day Parade)
  • Delaware Juneteenth Association
  • Monday Club
  • Wilmington Grand Prix
  • Elkton (MD) High School
  • MLK Voice 4 Youth
  • M&T Bank (African-American Resource Group)
  • Wilmington Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
  • Wilmington Riverfront
  • and more…

  • Steppers (Ages 6+): EL steppers are masters of precision, these individuals learn and perform a creative art consisting of dance, step, and dramatics with a military approach.
  •  Color Guard (Ages 8+): Color Guard members work to perfect a variety of movements consisting of dance routines with flags, rifles and sabres.
  • Majorette (Ages 8+): The Essence Legacy Diamonds (ELD) master the art of HBCU-style majorette which include dance routines with various genres such as hip hop, jazz and ballet.
  • Percussion/Drummers (Ages 9+): Our performers learn marching style percussion through complex cadences, music notations and unique routines.
  • Choir (Ages 8+): Our choir performers learn and perform a variety of challenging songs focusing on harmonies, diverse talents, blend and balance.
  • Cheerleading (Ages 6+): Our cheerleaders incorporate the arts of stomp-shake, tumbling and stunts within unique performances.

  • Steppers
    • All Steppers: Tuesdays & Thursdays from 6-8 p.m.
  • Color Guard
    • Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. & Sundays from 1-4 p.m.
  • Majorette
    • Sparkle: Wednesdays & Thursdays from 6-8 p.m.
    • Shine: Tuesdays & Thursdays from 6-8 p.m.
  • Percussion/Drummers
    • Tuesdays & Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. & Saturdays from 12-2:30 p.m.
  • Cheerleading
    • Mondays & Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m.

*Practice times are subject to change based on instructor/member availability.

Competition/Community Season Program Cost:
January – June 2024

  • $350 Program Cost

Parade/Community Season Program Cost:
July – December 2024

  • $350 Program Cost

*Family subsidy is available for households with 3 or more members. Please contact the Program Director Gau-Wan Smith at 302-472-9622.

A large portion of the financial support to cover the costs of the expanding program has been contributed through donations, grants and sponsorships. This helps keep costs to a minimum for the participants and their families. If you’d like to support our amazing performers, please consider donating HERE.


  • Gau-Wan Smith Jr.


  • Kenneth Frazier (Step/Program Operations)
  • Shay Johnson (Cheer/Program Operations)
  • Devin Chambers (Step)
  • Brianna Adams (Color Guard)
  • Savio Stuart (Percussion)
  • Gerald Askins (Color Guard)
  • Ronjeer Bellamy (Majorette)




Our Mission

To empower youth, foster healthy living, and promote strong communities.


Healthy Kids Day - Saturday, April 20th

Healthy Kids Day events are free, full of family fun, and open to non-members! Join us for games and activities to keep kids moving and learning. Learn More!