The weird looks started at Amanda Viereck’s local CVS. The Cover Model Search finalist was shopping with her mom after the July/August issue of DS hit the stands. As they walked down an aisle, three teenage girls stopped to stare. Amanda worried—was there something on her face? When the girls were gone, her mom reenacted their whispered conversation:
“Is that her?”
“I don’t know.”
“I think so!”
This was the first time—but certainly not the last—Amanda realized that people she didn’t know were recognizing her. Though the incident made her feel a bit strange, she also felt proud. She remembers thinking, “Yup—that’s me!” Indeed, she was one of the chosen three.
Soon, others caught on. The Gloucester County Times, a newspaper in New Jersey, published an article about Amanda. They took pictures of her tap dancing on her high school’s stage and encouraged readers to vote for her on dancespirit.com/. Terrence “Taps,” a tap teacher and choreographer in Atlanta, GA, with a blog about tap dance, also wrote about Amanda, rallying the tap community to support her.
And they did. Even random people at restaurants addressed Amanda as the girl they had voted for.
Amanda went to Nationals with a confidence boost. She felt good knowing how excited people were about the CMS and how much they wanted to help her.
“Before this, I used to psych myself out. I’d worry if I was going to make all of my turns,” Amanda says about performing at competitions. “Now it’s easier for me—I feel more relaxed.”
Still, Amanda had more challenges to face. Although she auditioned and got accepted to Tap City’s weeklong summer Pre-Professional Program, her chronic illness, Behçets, got in her way.
From February through spring, Amanda struggled. She was bedridden for days at a time on a few separate occasions with bad headaches, dizziness, blurry vision and extreme fatigue. She was able to attend some of her scheduled competitions, but she had to miss out on Tap City. Though she was disappointed, she didn’t want to jeopardize her health, and she plans to audition again next year!
Currently a high school senior, she’s thinking ahead. She hopes to go to college near the NYC area, but hasn’t found the right school with the right tap program yet. And she hopes to use her DS CMS win to help her book modeling gigs for both clothing and dancewear companies (at 5 feet, she never thought this was possible!).
Mostly, Amanda thinks winning the CMS will inspire more people to take an interest in and express themselves through tap. She’ll also encourage other dancers with illnesses to keep fighting and continue dancing.
“Winning the cover means my struggles are worth something,” Amanda says. “It proves to me that I can overcome Behçets and any other obstacles that come my way.”