Dancing for a Higher Power

Have you ever watched audience members rise from their seats as you dance, shouting and lifting their hands to praise God? Sheri Hayden, a 22-year-old dancer with Oklahoma City University’s Spirit of Grace Liturgical Dance Company, has. She witnessed this enthusiastic reaction last year while performing a lyrical jazz piece set to the well-known Christian hymn “Amazing Grace” during an on-campus gospel event. “It was awesome because everyone was glorifying God in their own ways,” says Sheri. For the six dancers, the performance was their praise.

Sheri, a senior dance performance major at OCU, has been a member of Spirit of Grace for three years. Though the Michigan native took ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical classes at local studios throughout her childhood, this has been her first experience with liturgical dance. A self-described “nondenominational Christian,” Sheri says her time with the company—which uses jazz and contemporary dance vocabulary—has given her the chance to reach audiences in a more powerful way than she’s been able to in any other dance venue. “It’s a great way to connect my passion for dance with my faith,” she says.

Faith-inspired dance has a long and complicated history. “There are explicit references to dance as a form of worship in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, especially in the Psalms,” says Reverend Robert VerEecke, director of the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble. Dance also plays a role in the rites of many faiths outside the Judeo-Christian realm. Traditionally, untrained members of religious groups performed basic movements that were incorporated into prayer rituals. But in the past few decades, more and more secularly-trained dancers have started using technical dance vocabulary to express devotion to a higher power, both inside and outside of their places of worship. Here, DS talks to a few young liturgical dancers to better understand this approach to dance.

Defining Liturgical Dance

Liturgy means a form of public worship, and dancers using movement in this way are often referred to as “liturgical dancers.” Though many liturgical dance choreographers rely heavily on lyrical, modern and contemporary dance vocabulary, any style of dance could be “liturgical,” as long as the primary goal motivating the movement is honoring God.

The meaning behind liturgical dances can be wide-ranging, covering anything from a general reminder to be grateful for life’s gifts to a specific retelling of a classic Bible story. Nineteen-year-old Stephanie Burklin, a member of Christian dance company Ballet Magnificat!’s trainee program, says one of her favorite dances is called Will You or Won’t You? Created by Jiri Voborsky, the Jackson, MS, company’s resident choreographer, the piece is inspired by a story in the Book of Daniel about three men who refuse to follow their king’s orders to worship a gold statue. In the biblical story, the men are sentenced to death, but God saves them. Voborsky modernized this theme, focusing on young people today and “how society often looks down on those who take a stand against things that have become the norm in our culture,” Sheri says, “and how God can help you get through it.”

Technique vs. Praise

Intensive dance training isn’t a prerequisite for believers who want to express their faith through movement. In more casual liturgical dance environments, technique often takes a backseat to praise. “With liturgical dance, you’re ministering to the audience rather than focusing on showing off your skills,” says Yvonna Vilaboy, 15, a student at The McIntyre Institute, a liturgical dance studio in Miami. Indeed, the audience is an integral part of these performances because liturgical dancers believe their work should communicate a religious message to viewers.

However, balancing worship with performance quality can be a struggle for trained dancers who have spent years in the studio honing technique. Burklin focused primarily on ballet throughout her youth, first taking classes at local studios and eventually studying at the Miami City Ballet School during high school. Her approach to dance changed the summer before her senior year, when she attended a Ballet Magnificat! intensive. While there, she heard another dancer talk about how putting Jesus into movement can change its meaning. “The experience of learning how to worship through dance was amazing,” Burklin says.

Ballet Magnificat! believes that technique is a crucial part of dancing for God. “I know there are a lot of people who have no dance training, who dance before the Lord as prayer time,” says Kathy Thibodeaux, Ballet Magnificat!’s co-founder. “But for what we do, we must have a technical background.” Dance has a vocabulary, she says, and “it’s hard to speak if you don’t know the words.” This philosophy appealed to Burklin. “I wanted to go to a company that’s serious about ballet and strives for technical excellence, but that still focuses overall on Jesus.” Still, she says she sometimes has a hard time “remembering that getting that triple pirouette doesn’t matter as much anymore, that it’s more important to praise Him through what I do.”

A Rewarding Approach

For Sheri, liturgical dance offers welcome moments of relief from her hectic secular-dance training schedule. “My Spirit of Grace rehearsal leaves me feeling uplifted and satisfied because it’s the one time during my busy week that I can let go and say ‘thank you’ for my talent,” she says. The lack of pressure she feels with liturgical dance has helped her gain confidence as a dancer, which she says has carried over  to her secular dance life. “I’ve always been shy,” she says. “When I was younger, my movement was safer. But Spirit of Grace’s welcoming, accepting environment has made me less afraid to move. Now I feel like I can take more risks with all of my dancing.”

Dressing the Part

Liturgical dancers tend to wear modest costumes, especially when they perform in sacred environments. “Our dancers are very covered up when we perform in churches,” says Kelli Rhodes-Stevens, director of Oklahoma City University’s Spirit of Grace Liturgical Dancers. “We don’t want the dancers to wear anything that would be off-putting to viewers who are less familiar with dance.” Though the specifics vary depending on the group, liturgical dance costumes often feature long-sleeved leotards, tunics and long, flowing skirts or pants. They generally have simple designs, often come in a single color, and are usually free of the flashy decorations—such as rhinestones and sequins—commonly found on other dance costumes.

When faith-based dancers perform outside of churches, they can wear less-conservative attire. “When we perform outdoors, our dancers will sometimes wear street clothes,” Stevens says. “It brings a different dynamic to our movement and makes it feel more accessible.”

Want to try putting your faith behind your movement? Sign up for a liturgical dance class at a local studio or audition for a summer intensive with a faith-based company like Ballet Magnificat! or Ad Deum, a Christian dance company located in Houston.

 

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search

All the essentials for 54 of the best events this season.

COMPETITIONS

Act 1 Talent

Director: Katie Rustowicz
909-360-3455
info@act1talent.com
act1talent.com
Age Divisions: Preview (Beginner), First Act (Intermediate), Second Act (Advanced), Spotlight (Dancers w/Disabilities): Minis (5 & Under), Petite (6–8), Juniors (9–11), Teens (12–14), Seniors (15–18), Adult (19)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Redondo Beach, CA; Austin, TX; Portland, OR; Indianapolis, IN; Minneapolis, MN

American Ballet Competition

Director: Raymond Van Mason
801-393-5000
americanballetcompetition@gmail.com
americanballetcompetition.com
Age Divisions: Division 1 (9–11), Division 2 (12–14), Division 3 (15–20), Ensemble (9–20), Pas de Deux (12–20)
2020 Nationals: Ogden, UT: June 3;
Scholarships Available


Breakout Dance Competition

Director: Joel Valdiviezo
609-873-8620
info@breakoutcomp.com
breakoutcomp.com
Age Divisions: Mini (6 & Under), Petite (7–9), Junior (10–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–20)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Voorhees, NJ; Warren, OH; Long Island, NY; Robbinsville, NJ; Albany, NY


Dance Showcase USA

Director: Glenda Boenig
817-572-6617
glenda@danceshowcaseusa.com
danceshowcaseusa.com
Age Divisions: Crystal: Minis (4 & Under); Crystal, Diamond, Star: Petites (5–6, 7–8), Juniors (9–10, 11), Teens (12, 13–14), Seniors (15–16, 17–19), Adults (20–29, 30 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Dallas/Fort Worth, TX: May 1, 2020; Oklahoma City, OK: March 6, 2020; Houston, TX: March 27, 2020; Tyler, TX: April 3, 2020; Austin/Bastrop, TX: April 17, 2020
2020 Nationals: Dallas/Fort Worth, TX: June 22

Diva Dance Competition

Directors: Anne Roberts & Kym Yadisernia
774-704-6975
info@divacomps.com
divacomps.com
Age Divisions: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced: Mini (6 & Under), Petite (7–9), Junior (10–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–18), Adult (19 & Above)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Atlanta, GA: Feb. 15, 2020; Fort Myers, FL: Feb. 28–March 1, 2020; Pittsburgh, PA: April 3–5, 2020; Wilmington, DE: April 17–19, 2020; Springfield, MA: May 1–3, 2020
2020 Nationals:
Hyannis, MA: July 14–17


DreamMaker National Talent Competition

Director: Brittney Bilgrien
937-736-2295
info@dreammakerdance.com
dreammakerdance.com
Age Divisions: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Independent Entries: (8 & Under), (9–11), (12–14), (15–19), (20 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Little Rock, AR: Feb. 14–16, 2020; Zionsville, IN: March 27–29, 2020; Oklahoma City, OK: April 3–5, 2020; Rapid City, SD: April 17–19, 2020; Green Bay, WI: May 8–10, 2020
2020 Nationals: Virginia Beach, VA: June 29–July 3
Scholarships Available


Dynamite National Talent Competition

Director: Stepp Stewart
404-977-3673
dynamitetalentcompetition@gmail.com
thesteppstewart.com
Age Divisions: Mini (4–8), Junior (9–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Cleveland, OH: Jan.; Atlanta, GA: Feb.; Columbus, OH: March; Van Wert, OH: March; Charlotte, NC: April


Elite Performance Challenge

Directors: Anthony & Nichole Fortunato
508-647-1000
info@eliteperformancechallenge.com
eliteperformancechallenge.com
Age Divisions: Recreational, Advanced, Competitive: Mini (8 & Under), Junior (9–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–19), Adult (20 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Providence, RI: March 20, 2020; Tolland, CT: March 27, 2020; Chelmsford, MA: April 3, 2020; Lancaster, PA: April 24, 2020; Woodbridge, VA: May 3, 2020
2020 Nationals: MA: June 19


Fusion National Dance Competition

Director: Paula Dell-Beasley
912-230-9687
info@fusionndc.com
fusionndc.com
Age Divisions: Petite (8 & Under), Junior (9–11), Teen (12–14), Senior (15–19)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Tampa, FL: Feb. 7, 2020; Valdosta, GA: Feb. 14, 2020; Fort Lauderdale, FL: March 13, 2020; Jacksonville, FL: March 27, 2020; Norfolk, VA: April 23, 2020
2020 Nationals: Orlando, FL: June 29
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available


Imagine National Dance Challenge

Director: Shaun Moe
833-464-6362
shaun@imaginedancechallenge.com
imaginedancechallenge.com
Age Divisions: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced: Petite (8 & Under), Junior (9–11), Teen (12–14), Senior (15–19), Adult (20 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Long Island, NY; Woodbridge, VA; Syracuse, NY; Buffalo, NY; Asbury Park, NJ
2020 Nationals: Nashville, TN: June 15–19; Hershey, PA: June 29–July 3


Leap! National Dance Competition

Director: Drew Vamosi
800-790-LEAP (5327)
info@leapcompetition.com
leapcompetition.com
Age Divisions: Skip! Level (Less Competitive) & Leap! Level (Top Competitive): Petite (4 & Under) (5–6) (7–8), Junior (9, 10, 11), Teen (12, 13, 14), Senior (15–16) (17–19), Adult (20 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities:
Sacramento, CA: Feb. 7–9, 2020; Virginia Beach, VA: Feb. 28–March 1, 2020; Fort Lauderdale, FL: April 24–26, 2020; Kansas City, MO: May 1–3, 2020; Minneapolis, MN: May 8–10, 2020


NexStar National Talent Competition

Director: Kathy Helton
937-376-7777
info@nexstarcompetition.com
nexstarcompetition.com
Age Divisions: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced: (8 & Under), (9–11), (12–14), (15–19), (20 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Atlanta, GA: April 24, 2020; Dayton, OH: Feb. 14, 2020; Lancaster, PA; Feb. 21, 2020; Saint Paul, MN: March 20, 2020; Woodbridge, VA: April 3, 2020
2020 Nationals:
Gatlinburg, TN: July 2


Onstage New York

Directors: Joe Lanteri & Leah Brandon
877-692-5678
info@onstagenewyork.com
onstagenewyork.com
Age Divisions: Mini (7–10), Junior (11–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–18), Prep (6 & Under), Open (19 & Up)
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available


Rainbow Dance Competition

714-995-5883
info@rainbowdance.com
rainbowdance.com
Age Divisions:
Limitless Starz (Special Needs): Mini (5 & Under); Starz of Tomorrow (Recreational): Petite (6–8); Rising Starz (Competitive): Junior (9–11); Elite Starz (Competitive): Teen (12–14)


Starbound National Talent Competition

Director: Sandra Coyte
609-693-0563
info@starbound.net
starbound.net
Age Divisions: Junior Petite Intermediate, Competitive & Elite: (8 & Under); Junior Intermediate, Competitive & Elite: (9–10); Junior Preteen Intermediate, Competitive & Elite: (11–12); Teen Intermediate, Competitive & Elite (13–14); Senior Intermediate, Competitive & Elite (15–16); Super Senior Intermediate, Competitive & Elite (17 & Over)


Starpower Talent Competition

Director: Noelle Pate Packett
301-752-4538
daniella@starpowertalent.com
starpowertalent.com
Age Divisions: Novice, Intermediate, & Advanced: Minis (8 & Under), Juniors (9–11), Teens (12–14), Seniors (15–19); Advanced: Adult (20 & Over)
2020 Nationals: Atlantic City, NJ: June 25–29; Orlando, FL: July 2–6; Branson, MO: July 3–7; Uncasville, CT: July 8–12; Ocean City, MD: July 9–13; Myrtle Beach, SC: July 15–19; Anaheim, CA: July 15–19
Scholarships Available


Throw Down Dance Challenge

Director: Adrienne Kellett
732-861-6482
sales@throwdowndance.com
throwdowndancechallenge.com
Age Divisions: Recreational & Competitive: Minis (5–7), Petite (8–9), Junior (10–12), Teen (13–15), Senior Teen (16–19), Adult (20 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities:
East Brunswick, NJ; Jackson, NJ; Somerset, NJ; Yardley, PA


Ticket to Broadway

Directors: Joel Kamensky & Lori Brown
855-284-2538
info@tickettobroadway.com
tickettobroadway.com
Age Divisions: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced: Minis (6 & Under), Petites (7–9), Juniors (10–12), Teens (13–15), Seniors (16–19), Adult (20 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Wilmington, DE: Feb. 21, 2020; Akron, OH: April 17, 2020; Lancaster, PA: April 24, 2020; Pittsburgh, PA: May 1, 2020; Somerset, NJ: March 13, 2020
2020 Nationals:
Hershey, PA: June 21


Universal Ballet Competition

Directors: Lissette & David Lucas
305-582-7877
info@universalballetcompetition.com
universalballetcompetition.com
Age Divisions: Pre-Competitive Intermediate (8–11), Pre-Competitive Competitive Level (8–11), Junior Intermediate Level (12–14), Junior Competitive Level (12–14), Senior Intermediate Level (15–19), Senior Competitive Level (15–19)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Salt Lake City, UT: Jan. 3–5, 2020; Miramar, FL: Feb. 14–16, 2020; Atlanta, GA: Feb. 28–March 1, 2020; Houston, TX: March 20–21, 2020; State College, PA: May 15–17, 2020
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available



World Dance Pageant

Directors: Chrystan Sheatzley & Jill Wolins
240-412-1804
chrystan@worlddancepageant.com
worlddancepageant.com
Age Divisions:
(8 & Under), (9–11), (12–14), (15–19)


CONVENTIONS


Groove Street Productions Dance Conventions

Directors: Joanne & Alex Pesusich
604-449-2488
info@gspdanceconventions.com
gspdanceconventions.com
Popular Instructors: Liz Tookey, Luther Brown, Tara Jean Popowich, Sabrina Phillip, Scott Forsyth, Carlo Atienza
Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Ability


Power Pak

Director: Chrystan Sheatzley & Noelle Pate Packett
240-412-1804
chrystan@powerpakdance.com
powerpakdance.com
Age Divisions: (7–11), (12 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Orlando, FL: July 1, 2019; Ocean City, MD: July 8, 2019
Popular Instructors: Mark Orsborn, Marinda Davis, Jill Wolins, Wyatt Rocker, Jason Williams, Sky Hoffmann
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Ability


COMPETITIONS & CONVENTIONS

24 Seven Dance Convention

Director: Danny Wallace
818-432-6085
info@24sevendance.com
24sevendance.com

Competition


Age Divisions: Sidekick (5–7), Mini (8–10), Junior (11–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–10), Teacher/Studio Owner (18 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: San Diego, CA: Nov. 8, 2019; Birmingham, AL: Dec. 6, 2019; Meadowlands, NJ: Jan. 24, 2020; Pittsburgh, PA: March 6, 2020; Orlando, FL: May 8, 2020
2020 Nationals: Las Vegas, NV: June 27

Convention

Popular Instructors: Randi & Hefa, tWitch, Allison Holker, Francisco Gella, Jaci Royal, Blake McGrath
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Adrenaline Dance Inc.

Director: Jeremy Keeton
866-695-4144
info@adrenalinedance.com
adrenalinedance.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Sparks (5–7), Minis (8–10), Juniors (11–12), Teens (13–15), Seniors (16–19)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Dallas, TX: Nov. 22, 2019; Los Angeles, CA: March 6, 2020; Denver, CO: April 17, 2020; Detroit, MI: Jan. 24, 2020; Ogden, UT: Feb. 27, 2020
2020 Nationals: Richland Hills, TX: June 27

Convention

Popular Instructors: Nick Dinicolangelo, Sonya Tayeh, Chris Jacobsen, Marcea Lane, Caroline Lewis Jones, Nick Palmquist
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Artistic Dance Exchange

Director: Juan Borona
516-749-8975
info@artisticdanceexchange.com
adeontour.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Gold Level (Beginner–Intermediate) & Platinum Level (Intermediate–Advanced): Minis (5–7), Juniors (8–11), Teens (12–15), Seniors (16–17), Adult (18 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Dallas, TX: Nov. 15–17, 2020; New Brunswick, NJ: Jan. 30–Feb. 2, 2020; Long Island, NY: Feb. 7–9, 2020; Miami, FL: March 6–8, 2020; Boston, MA: March 13–15, 2020
2020 Nationals: Long Branch, NJ: June 29-July 2

Convention

Popular Instructors: Luam, Tom Richardson, Ian Eastwood, Alex Wong, Hamilton Evans, Channing Cooke
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Artists Simply Human

Director: Braham Logan Crane
855-ASH-Dance
info@ashproductions.com
ashdance.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Mini Movers (4–6), Artists In Training (7–10), Intermediate (11–14), Advanced (15 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Orlando, FL: Oct. 25, 2019; Nashville, TN: Jan. 3, 2020; Philadelphia, PA: Jan. 17, 2020; New Brunswick, NJ: Feb. 7, 2020; Chicago, IL: Feb. 14, 2020
2020 Nationals: Orlando, FL: July 3

Convention

Popular Instructors: Gregg Russell, Desmond Richardson, Mia Michaels, Jojo Gomez, CJ Salvador, Dusty Button
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Beyond The Stars

Directors: Ginny Faubell & Nikki Tennant
609-259-8760
info@btscomp.com
btscomp.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Mini (6 & Under), Petite (7–9), Junior (10–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–20)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Long Island, NY; Voorhees, NJ; Akron/Youngstown, OH; Springfield, MA; Baltimore, MD
2020 Nationals: Midwest: June 21–27; Cape May Courthouse, NJ: June 27–July 3; Poconos, PA: July 12–18

Convention

Popular Instructors: Chryssie Whitehead, Serge Onik, Ashle Dawson, Marjorie Failoni, David Paul Kidder, Alyssa Quezada
Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Celebration Talent Competition

Directors: Mitchell & Robin Dettwiller
888-610-8882
info@celebrationtalent.com
celebrationtalent.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Petite (8 & Under), Junior (9–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–19), Adult (20 & Over)
2020 Nationals: Wisconsin Dells, WI: July 15–20

Convention

Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


CNADM: Chicago National Association of Dance Masters

Director: Michele St. Clair
815-397-6282
dance@cnadm.com
cnadmdance.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Mini (7–9), Junior (10–12), Intermediate (13–14), Senior (15)
2020 Nationals: Oak Brook, IL: July 26, 2020

Convention

Popular Instructors: Melissa Anderson, Michael Foley, Jeremy Plummer, Nick Pupillo, Julie Cartier, Victoria Barlow
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


The Dance Effect

Director: Sarena Roubideaux
316-794-8000
thedanceeffect@hotmail.com
thedanceeffect.org

Competition

Age Divisions: Recreational & Competitive: Mini (5 & Under), Petite (6–8), Junior (9–11), Teen (12–14), Senior (15–19), Adult (20 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Tyler, TX: Feb. 21–23, 2020; Liberty, MO: April 3–5, 2020; Oklahoma City, OK: April 17–19, 2020; Fort Smith, AR; Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
2020 Nationals: Wichita, KS: June 17–21; Dallas/Fort Worth, TX: June 24–28

Convention

Popular Instructors: Fiona Star Martinek, Michelle Rambo, Brooke & Paul Gebb, Sabrina Biddle, Jessica Connelly, Lauren Alston
Performance Opportunities: Yes
Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Ability


Dancers Inc.

Director: Dan Barris
732-685-8182
info@dancers-inc.com
dancers-inc.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Future Star, Rising Star & All Star: Minis (6 & Under), Petite (7–9), Junior (10–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–19); All Levels, Adjudication Only: (20 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Utica, NY: May 2020; Lancaster, PA: Feb. 2020; New Orleans, LA: March 2020; Long Island, NY: May 2020
2020 Nationals: Ocean City, MD, & Hershey, PA

Convention

Popular Instructors: Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, Ian McKenzie, Lauren Froederman, Megs Alfonso, Phil LaDuc, Ambrose Respicio
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Ability


Dupree Dance

Director: Kari Anderson
888-498-2998
dupree@dupreedance.com
dupreedance.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Phaze 1 (4–7), Phaze 2 (8–11), Phaze 3 (12–14), Phaze 4 (15 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Houston, TX: Jan. 18, 2020; Saint Louis, MO: Feb. 1, 2020; Seattle, WA: Feb. 8, 2020; San Francisco, CA: Feb. 15, 2020; Chicago, IL: March 7, 2020
2020 Nationals: Chicago, IL: July 2

Convention

Popular Instructors: Erick Yanez, Terrill Mitchell, Meghan Stinson, Addison Holmes, Kobi Rozenfeld, Trevor Parmentier
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Ability

Encore DCS

Directors: Rhonda Marchant & Susan Barnes
803-785-1214
susan@encoredcs.com
encoredcs.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Recreational & Competitive: Mini (5 & Under), Petite (6–8); Recreational, Competitive, Elite: Junior (9–11), Teen (12–14), Senior (15–16, 17–18, 19–24, 25 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Greenville and Myrtle Beach, SC; Howell, MI; Johnstown and Lancaster, PA; Rocky Mount, Asheville, Winston-Salem & High Point, NC; Daytona Beach, FL
2020 Nationals: Charleston, SC: July

Convention

Popular Instructors: Caroline Lewis Jones, Brandon Girouard, Kevin Cosculluela, Tiffany Haas
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


EnerGy National Dance Competitions

Director: Gina Dudash
954-780-7177
office@energyndc.com
energyndc.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Petite (9 & Under), Junior (10–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–19), Adult (20)

Convention

Popular Instructors: Todd Flanagan, Gianna Martello, Tracie Stanfield
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: AgeConvention


Excel in Motion

Directors: Anthony & Nichole Fortunato
508-647-1000
info@excelinmotion.com
excelinmotion.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Recreational, Advanced, Competitive: Minis (8 & Under), Juniors (9–12), Teens (13–15), Seniors (16–19), Adults (20 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Lancaster, PA: Jan. 3, 2020; Mashantucket, CT: Jan. 10, 2020; Charlotte, NC: Jan. 24, 2020; Murfreesboro, TN: Feb. 14, 2020; Danvers, MA: Jan. 17, 2020
2020 Nationals: MA: June, 19

Convention

Popular Instructors: Lauren Froderman, Cyrus Spencer, Alex Wong, Ellenore Scott, Amelia Lowe, Casie GoShow
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Fluid Dance Conventions, Inc.

Director: Sarah Verville
866-659-5554
fluid@fluiddance.com
fluiddance.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Minis (5–7), Juniors (8–11), Teens (12–14), Seniors (15–19), Teacher ( 20 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Minneapolis, MN: Jan. 10–12, 2020; Omaha, NE: Jan. 24–26, 2020; Seattle, WA: Feb. 7–9, 2020; Sacramento, CA: March 6–8, 2020; Denver, CO: March 27–29, 2020
2020 Nationals: Phoenix, AZ: June 25–28

Convention

Popular Instructors: Victoria Moore, Todd Flanagan, Tracie Stanfield, Matthew Shaffer, Michelle Loucadoux, Kristin Sudeikis
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age

Groove

732-579-0737
information@groovecompetition.com
groovecompetition.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Novice, Intermediate, Competitive: Mini (7 & Under), Petite (8–9), Junior (10–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–19), Adult (20 & Over)

Convention

Popular Instructors: Olivia Cece, Gianna Martello, James Washington, Aaron Turner, Jill Lazzini, Matt Lopez
Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age

Headliners Dance Championships

Director: Shari Tomasiello
973-927-8007
info@headlinerscompetition.com
headlinerscompetition.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Novice: (Through 15); Intermediate & Competitive: (All Ages)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Lancaster, PA: Feb. 14, 2020; Johnstown, PA: Feb. 21, 2020; Middleton, WI: Feb. 28, 2020; Louisville, KY: March 27, 2020; Grand Rapids, MI: April 24, 2020
2020 Nationals: Poconos, PA: June 29

Convention

Popular Instructors: Jason Wise, Brandon Girouard, Kyle Van NewKirk, Angie Conte, Christina Belinsky, Brandon Porter
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Ability

JUMP Dance Convention

Director: Mike Minery
818-432-4395
info@jumptour.com
jumptour.com

Competition

Age Divisions: JumpStart (5–7), Mini (8–10), Junior (11–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–19), Teacher/Studio Owner (18 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Greenville, SC: Nov. 1, 2019; Washington, DC: Jan. 10, 2020; Dallas, TX: Feb. 14, 2020; New York, NY: March 27, 2020; Anaheim, CA: May 8, 2020
2020 Nationals: Las Vegas, NV: June 27

Convention

Popular Instructors: Mike Minery, Teddy Forance, Katy Spreadbury, Misha Gabriel, Nika Kljun, Al Blackstone
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


LA DanceMagic

Director: Jackie Sleight
818-541-1316
office@ladancemagic.com
ladancemagic.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Magic Minis (4–7), Juniors (7–11), Teens (12–14), Seniors (15 & Up), Breakout (12 & Up), Teacher (18 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Anaheim, CA: May 8, 2020; Santa Clara, CA: Jan. 24, 2020; Baton Rouge, LA: March 6, 2020; Dallas, TX: Feb. 14, 2020; Houston, TX: Nov. 8, 2019
2020 Nationals: Anaheim, CA: July 14

Convention

Popular Instructors: Scott Fowler, Christian Vincent, DJ Guthrie, Will Thomas, Julie Kay Stallcup, Eddie Moody
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


NRG danceProject

Director: Rustin Matthew
877-909-4674
nrgdanceproject@gmail.com

nrgdanceproject.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Lil Spark (4–6), Mini (7–9), Junior (10–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–18), Adv. Pro (19)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Atlanta, GA: Jan. 17, 2020; Denver, CO: March 6, 2020; Orange County, CA: March 27, 2020; Salt Lake City, UT: April 16, 2020; Phoenix, AZ: April 24, 2020
2020 Nationals: Orlando, FL: June 28

Convention

Popular Instructors: Jennifer Parsley, Rustin Matthew, Mallauri Esquibel, Lacey Schwimmer, Ava Bernstine, Emma Bradley
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age

NUVO Dance Convention

Director: Ray Leeper
818-432-3894
go@gonuvo.com
gonuvo.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Nubies (5–7), Mini (8–10), Junior (11–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–19), Teacher/Studio Owner (18 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Toronto: Dec. 13, 2019; Long Beach, CA: Jan. 10, 2020; Boston, MA: Feb. 7, 2020; National Harbor, MD: March 6, 2020; Westminster, CO: April 24, 2020
2020 Nationals: Las Vegas, NV: June 27

Convention

Popular Instructors: Ray Leeper, Travis Wall, Stacey Tookey, Denise Wall, Anthony Morigerato, Martha Nichols
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Radix Dance Convention

Director: Eddie Strachan
818-392-3478
info@radixdance.com
radixdance.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Rookie (5–7), Mini (8–10), Junior (11–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–19), Open (19 & Up), Teacher/Studio Owner (18 & Up)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Anaheim, CA: Dec. 6, 2019; Boston, MA: Jan. 3, 2020; Atlanta, GA: Feb. 7, 2020; Provo, UT: Feb. 27, 2020, Portland, OR: May 15, 2020
2020 Nationals: Las Vegas, NV: June 19

Convention

Popular Instructors: Tessandra Chavez, Brian Friedman, Tabitha & Napoleon D'Umo, Tyce Diorio, Martin Harvey, Tricia Miranda
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


REVEL Dance Convention

Director: Frank Musso
813-563-4249
info@dancerevel.com
dancerevel.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Minis (5–8), Juniors (9–11), Teens (12–14), Seniors (15–18)
2020 Nationals: Orlando, FL: July 1

Convention

Popular Instructors: Derek Mitchell, Josh Bergasse, Jaimie Goodwin, Guy Groove, Valerie Rockey, Duncan Cooper
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Revive Dance Convention

Director: Jeremy Keeton
866-695-4144
info@revivedanceconvention.com
revivedanceconvention.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Sparks (5–7), Minis (8–10), Juniors (11–12), Teens (13–15), Seniors (16–19)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Provo, UT: March 5, 2020; Chicago, IL: April 3, 2020; Dallas, TX: May 8, 2020; Houston, TX: May 1, 2020; San Diego, CA: Nov. 22, 2019
2020 Nationals: Orlando, FL: July 10

Convention

Popular Instructors: Merissa Gassel, Jenn Freeman, Matt Aylward, Chelsie Hightower, Sarah Reich, Matt Luck
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Sophisticated Productions

Director: Melissa R. Tessier
413-569-4030
info@sophisticatedproductions.com
sophisticatedproductions.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Jr. Competitive (4–6), Sr. Competitive (7–8), Novice (9–10), Pre-Professional

Convention

Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Spirit of Dance Awards and the SDA Class Experience

Directors: Kim Ahern & Wanda Cunningham
781-924-1314
director@spiritofdanceawards.com
spiritofdanceawards.com

Competition

2020 Nationals: Cape Cod, MA: July 7–12

Convention

Popular Instructors: Ashle Dawson, Buddy Casimano, Eddie Bennett, Nuala DeGeorge, Ellenore Scott, Keenan Cooks
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Stage One Productions

Director: Greg Massay
405-573-7733
director@stageonedance.com
stageonedance.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Petite (8 & Under), Junior (9–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–19), Adult (20 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Cincinnati, OH: Feb. 28, 2020, Houston, TX: March 6, 2020; Arlington, TX: April 3, 2020; Oklahoma City, OK: April 24, 2020; Kansas City, KS: May 1, 2020
2020 Nationals: Branson, MO: June 14

Convention

Popular Instructors: Caroline Lewis-Jones, Jeff Amsden, Sky Massay-Cook, Ricky Maalouf, Danny Lawn
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Step Up 2 Dance

Director: Carol Wallace
781-231-0211
carol@stepup2dance.com
stepup2dance.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Novice, Competitive, Advanced, Pro-Am: (5–6), (7–8), (9–10), (11–12), (13–14), (15–16), (17–18), (19–24), (25–40), (Senior)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Queens, NY: March 1, 2020; Southbury, CT: March 2, 2020; Boston, MA: March 14, 2020, Mt. Laurel, NJ: March 28, 2020; Secaucus, NJ: May 17, 2020

Convention

Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Ability


Talent On Parade

Directors: Kim & Eric McCluer
316-522-4836
office@talentonparade.com
talentonparade.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Novice, Intermediate, Competitive: (All Ages)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Kansas City, KS: April 22, 2020; Des Moines, IA: April 2, 2020; Saint Louis, MO: Feb. 26, 2020; Oklahoma City, OK: March 11, 2020; Chicago, IL: May 26, 2020
2020 Nationals: San Antonio, TX; Saint Louis, MO; Kansas City, KS

Convention

Popular Instructors: Anthony Lofendo, Don Mirault, Joey Doucette, Helene Phillips, Missy & Andrew Hubbard, Matt Brekke
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Ability


Transcend Tour

Directors: Carlye Flieder & Elina Gordienko
301-718-3435
info@transcendtour.com
transcendtour.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Mini (7–10), Junior (11–12), Teen (13–15), Senior (16–19), Pro (18)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Ogden, UT: Jan. 30, 2020; Newark, NJ: Feb. 21, 2020; Austin, TX: Feb. 28, 2020; Orlando, FL: March 6, 2020; Chicago, IL: March 13, 2020
2020 Nationals: Bethesda, MD

Convention

Popular Instructors: Nick Lanzisera, Sabrina Phillip, Hamilton Evans, Alan Salazar, Laura Edwards, Kelley Guise
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age


Turn It Up Dance Challenge

Director: Melissa Burns
617-283-8811
info@turnitupdance.com
turnitupdance.com

Competition

Age Divisions: Novice, Intermediate, Competitive: Tinys (5 & Under), Minis (6–8), Juniors (9–11), Teens (12–14), Sr. Teens (15–18), Adult (19-29), Adult Plus (30 & Over)
Top 5 Tour Cities: Lowell, MA; Lancaster, PA; East Rutherford, NJ; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI
2020 Nationals: Long Branch, NJ: July 12

Convention

Popular Instructors: George Jones Jr., Alex Wong, Tina Landon, Lacey Schwimmer, Maud Arnold, Megz Alfonso
Performance Opportunities; Scholarships Available; Class Divisions: Age

Guides and Resources
Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?

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