Here's a frustrating truth: While those of us who're involved in the world of dance competitions understand how awesome they are, the larger world's perception of them is pretty darn negative, thanks to reality TV's funhouse-mirror portrayals of the scene. And that's why Dance Network's new documentary, "Dance Family," is such a breath of fresh air.

"Dance Family" is a deep dive into the happier realities of dance comps—specifically, Star Dance Alliance's Starpower competitions. It features interviews with SDA co-founder/CEO Gary Pate, his fellow co-founder Grace Wakefield and a host of dancers and teachers who've found success and fulfillment thanks to their Starpower experiences. (The impressive list includes Debbie Allen and Ade Obayomi.) Because that's what dance competitions are, to the vast majority of artists who participate in them: places to learn, excel, get inspired and find a "dance family" of your own.

Usually you'd need a Dance Network subscription to watch the documentary, but the site is currently offering a two-week free trial to new subscribers. (You'll see the option pop up when you create an account.) Check out the trailer below:


(Photo courtesy Beyond the Stars)

Michelle Quiner is the epitome of technique and artistry in perfect harmony: Sure, she makes quintuple pirouettes on pointe look like a cinch, but it’s this 15-year-old’s emotive quality that captivates audiences. Michelle’s talent has won her such titles as National Miss Teen Onstage New York and Miss Junior Starpower, as well as first place at both Starpower and Legacy Dance Championships Nationals. It also landed her the part of Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in Nashville, TN, in 2010.

 

(Photo courtesy Beyond the Stars)

Fast Facts:

Birthday: April 17, 1999

Hometown: Chester, NJ

Dance studio: North Jersey School of Dance Arts

Favorite dancers of all time: Gillian Murphy, Paloma Herrera and Catherine Hurlin. “I love American Ballet Theatre!”

Favorite dance movie: First Position

If she were a superhero…“I would have an amazing memory. I’d learn all of the combos and never forget them.”

Go-to stress relievers: “I like to crochet dolls for my seven siblings, and I like to read

Dance Spirit!”

Dream dance roles: Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker and Odette/Odile in Swan Lake

"In the dance world, you’re gonna hear ‘no’ a lot. You just have to learn how to work through that without getting discouraged. Never give up on what you love to do."

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