Emma Hellenkamp's Showstopper Finals Experience
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. Next up? Emma Hellenkamp, from San Diego, CA, who competed at Showstopper's West Coast Nationals for the first time since "So You Think You Can Dance." (All photos courtesy KC Hellenkamp.)
Wednesday, July 19th:
We made it to Showstopper Nationals in Anaheim, CA, and I could not be more excited to start the week. I had my duo and trio today, so I knew I needed to leave time to stretch and warm up. Once I had my makeup and hair done, I started to run through my dances with Chloe and SeAnna (my trio partners), and then just Chloe (my duo partner). My trio was first. Right before they called our names, we shook out our hands and legs to get rid of all the nerves. (We did the same thing for our duo.) Both performances went well, but you could tell the nerves were there because they were our first dances of the week. Overall, it was a great first night! We topped it off by dancing to a band in Downtown Disney and watching Wonder Woman in the Disney movie theater.
Thursday, July 20th:
I had no dances on Thursday, which is strange because that doesn't normally happen. That meant I got to support my friends and hang out at the pool! My friends and I cheered on all the junior soloists and then hit the pool. After about 2 hours relaxing in the sun, we made our way back to the competition for all the mini and junior groups. It was a relaxing and fun day.
Friday, July 21st:
Friday was a big day—we started at 6:00 AM and finished up at 11:00 PM. My small contemporary group routine, "Hold on for your Life," was first. It went really well and we made it into the Top 10 dance off at the final show on Sunday. Then I had one more small group before my first solo. My solo was super nerve-racking. It was my first time in the teen division, and I only turned twelve a month ago. I performed really well, and then it was off to my next solo. I warmed up for about an hour and ate a salad for some last minute energy. My second solo—a jazz routine—also went very well and I was super excited and thankful to have placed 7th overall after 13 hours of solos! Once they were out of the way, I could focus on my last group dance, "They Don't Really Care About Us." It was a large jazz routine that was fierce and fun to perform. I absolutely love team dances! That dance also made it to the closing show, which I was beaming about. I finished off the night with a 4-hour rehearsal for the opening number. Although it was long, I had a lot of fun and made a ton of new friends.
Saturday, July 22nd:
Saturday was a piece of cake 🍰 I slept in and ate a chocolate chip muffin (my favorite) for breakfast. Then I had my hair and makeup done because I had 3 large group performances. My first dance was a huuuuuge group with 46 (!) people in it. It's a very tiring dance and involves lots of tumbling and tricks. After that, I only had 3 minutes to change for my tap routine. Don't get me wrong—it was stressful but also so fun, because it was such a quick a change. My dance teachers said we performed the tap routine, "Impossible," the best they'd ever seen it. They were right, because it also made it to the closing show! My last dance was a large contemporary number, "When You Sleep." It was one of my favorite dances all year and I cannot believe that was my last time performing it. The night ended with a 5-hour rehearsal for opening number, which felt like a lifetime after this day.
Sunday, July 23rd:
Sunday was the closing show, and I could feel the stress in the air. First of all, my three sisters and I all had to be completely ready with hair, makeup, and costume in the hotel lobby at 8:00 AM (my poor mom!). Then, I had four dances to complete, starting with the opening number. I was in the opening number two years ago, and was not able to participate last year because of "So You Think You Can Dance." I was super excited to be involved in it again. I loved the rehearsals and the feeling of performing with new friends—it was a great experience. After that, it was time to perform my other dances. What an incredible day, and incredible end to my week at Showstopper Finals!
Get in, losers. We're going to Broadway.
OK, not losers, actually—more like the bajillion die-hard fans of Tina Fey's 2004 cult hit Mean Girls, who've been wearing pink every Wednesday since a musical adaptation of the film was first teased back in 2013.
Now their world is like a cake filled with rainbows and smiles, because Mean Girls the musical, which had a trial run in Washington, DC, last fall, is set to open at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre April 8. And in a very grool twist, it turns out the show—with direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw and a book by Fey herself—is delightfully dancey.
Today in Ballet Dancers Are Actual Superheroes news:
You've no doubt heard that the fabulous Alicia Vikander is playing Lara Croft in the newest iteration of Tomb Raider, which hits movie theaters this Friday. But while her training for the high-octane action role was crazy tough, she says, studying at the Royal Swedish Ballet School was far tougher.
Everyone loves a good viral video, especially when there's dancing involved. And though many viral videos are contrived and created for the soul purpose of instafame, the story behind the latest video catching the eyes of millions—including Rihanna, super model Naomi Campbell, and Diddy—is even more unique because it features children who don't even know who those celebrities are.
A dance troupe in Nigeria has become the next internet sensation, thanks to their exuberant dancing and passion with which they perform. Their enthusiasm for dance is evident in every step and it's hard not to smile as you see these children (who range from ages 6 to 15) express pure joy in something as simple as dance. These nine kids are part of The Dream Catchers, an organization started by 26-year-old Seyi Oluyole, that gives impoverished children a place to live while teaching them how to dance.
For 16-year-old Amanda*, dance is everything: her passion, her escape from the daily grind, and her career goal. Her parents see things differently. "I have siblings who are active in sports," Amanda says, "and my parents would rather I play soccer or basketball. They don't see dance as something I can earn a stable living from in the future. They often tell me I should just quit."
Some parents aren't able to, don't know how to, or choose not to give you the kind of support you need to thrive in the studio. And when your parents are adding stress to your life, rather than alleviating it, there's a lot at stake. "Dancers who don't have the support of their parents might struggle with self-doubt," says Dr. Linda Hamilton, a former dancer with New York City Ballet and a clinical psychologist specializing in the performing arts, "while those whose parents are too involved can crack under the pressure." Whether your parents aren't there when you need them or they're always there, practically smothering you, try these tips to improve your situation.
On Friday night, the iconic RuPaul made history as the first drag queen ever to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And it didn't take long for the world's most fabulous RuPaul fan/one of our favorite human beings, Mark Kanemura, to commemorate his idol's accomplishment with—naturally—a WALK to end all walks.
What do you get when a hoard of dancers collaborate to the catchy tune of "Love Somebody," by the band Frenship? The most epic dance party ever, of course! Said dance party was directed by the talented Michael Riccio, who's choreography has appeared in "La La Land" and "Dancing with the Stars."
They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.
Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.
These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.