JaQuel Knight

Early last year, an unassuming teenage guy walked into an L.A. audition for a Michelle Williams video. It was the first time Frank Gatson, Jr.—Beyoncé’s and Britney’s go-to choreographer, who was running the audition—had seen the young dancer. “I liked how he freestyled,” Gatson remembers. “He obviously had dance in his soul. And he had a unique feel—a house vibe meets a retro vibe meets a country, earthy vibe meets a right-with-the-times kind of vibe. It was totally…well, totally JaQuel.” JaQuel Knight, that is, who was then 18 and a recent L.A. transplant.

JaQuel (pronounced “jah-kwell”) didn’t land the dancer spot, but Gatson thought his style was right for the video, and asked him to make up a few counts of choreography. JaQuel put together some spicy house-inspired moves, and Gatson, impressed, brought him on as a co-choreographer. “He was just so organized, so clear,” Gatson says. “He could direct dancers five, 10 years older than he was, no problem. And if I asked him to change something, he could work it out in two minutes.”

Gatson made a point of looking up the young phenom a few months later, when he was beginning work on a video for Beyoncé’s then-unknown track “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” “Oh, wow, do I remember that call,” JaQuel says, laughing. “Frank said, ‘I have this new Beyoncé song. I can’t send it over e-mail. Can you come out to NYC tonight? You have a flight in an hour.’ ”

In hiring JaQuel as co-choreographer, Gatson was taking a leap of faith. “Beyoncé was like, ‘Who is this kid?’ Nobody knew who he was,” he says. “But I told them I didn’t care about clout—I’d never seen someone so young who got it so quickly.” And Gatson’s gamble paid off. JaQuel lent the “Single Ladies” video a sassy, Fosse-esque flair, inspiring hundreds of imitators Saturday Night Live skit!). Even Beyoncé, the consummate perfectionist, was impressed. This new kid had a fresh voice.

“I was always a dancer”

It’s fitting that North Carolina–born, Atlanta–raised JaQuel, whose first big break was a music video, started out by imitating MTV. “I was always a dancer, but my first distinct dance memories are copying the choreo from TLC and MC Hammer videos,” he says. Later he created dances for his middle school marching band and cheerleaders. But it wasn’t until age 14 that he began to take formal dance classes. “A friend of mine was really into the convention scene,” he remembers. “He took me to an amazing workshop with Shane Sparks and Chuck Maldonado, and then I got involved with Monsters of Hip Hop. Monsters introduced me to the whole L.A. dance industry.”

Monsters is also where he met Step Up 2 and Step Up 3D choreographer Jamal Sims (check out our interview with Jamal in the July/August issue of DS). “When you get to a convention like Monsters, it can be hard to make an impression because there are so many kids. But JaQuel stood out to me,” Jamal says. “He was noticeable without being over the top—one of those quiet people who deliver. I asked him to come up on stage and teach the combo with me, because I knew if the kids could see him, they’d be inspired by his movement.”

“Nobody expects that!”

Excited by this introduction to the West Coast dance world, JaQuel moved to L.A. after graduating high school and began auditioning like crazy. Though choreographing was always part of his dream, JaQuel expected to work for a while as a dancer first. “First of all, the energy you get from being onstage—there’s nothing else like it. So I wanted to dance,” he explains. “But I’m also the kind of person who puts a lot of weight on seniority, so I figured I’d establish myself as a dancer and then look for my opportunity to branch out. You have to crawl before you walk—how can you tell a dancer what to do if you’ve never been in their situation?”

So when JaQuel found himself choreographing for Beyoncé just a few months after arriving in L.A., he was surprised. “Nobody expects that!” he says. “But since I was working with Frank, I wasn’t nervous about those first choreography projects. He had the experience that I was missing.” JaQuel and Gatson are also a symbiotic team in the studio. “We’re connected in a crazy way,” JaQuel explains. “Frank will say, ‘I’m looking for a step—help me find it.’ And usually I’m able to jump in and pull it right out of his head!”

The “Single Ladies” video was also one of JaQuel’s first experiences in the casting chair. What has he learned to look for in a dancer? “It’s so much more than moves and counts,” he says. “It’s the story that you tell me as you deliver the choreography. It’s an ‘it’ factor that comes out of pure passion.” (One of the girls who had “it” at the “Single Ladies” audition was our May/June cover girl, Ebony Williams!)

“He’s already big, but he’s going to be bigger”

Since “Single Ladies,” JaQuel has become one of the commercial world’s hottest choreographers, jet-setting all over the country. He collaborated with Gatson on Beyoncé’s “I Am” tour, worked on Britney Spears’ “Circus” tour, and reconnected with Jamal on the set of Hannah Montana: The Movie, which Jamal choreographed and JaQuel danced in. Currently JaQuel is working with some up-and-coming music artists in L.A., staging commercials for the likes of Maybelline New York, choreographing this year’s “American Idol” tour and looking into various film projects.

Sound like a lot for a 20-year-old? Maybe. But JaQuel is handling his crazy schedule with panache. And he says that his age hasn’t kept industry bigwigs from taking him seriously. “When I’m working, I don’t mess around. I’m really straightforward and I get down to business, which helps me earn respect,” he explains. “And whatever I’m working on, you’d better believe that I’m going to be prepared—over-prepared!”

What’s JaQuel’s dream job? “Well, it was to work with a big artist like Beyoncé or Britney!” he says, laughing. “So I can cross that one off my list, although I still can’t quite believe it.” Ultimately, he’d like to end up as an artistic or creative director—“putting shows together, arranging tours, figuring out music video concepts,” he says. He’d also like to return to Woodbury University, where he was studying graphic design until his dance career took off.

JaQuel’s colleagues have no doubts that he can achieve all his goals thanks to his unique talents. “He’s already big, but he’s going to be bigger because he’s different,” says Jamal. “Most choreographers are caught up in the fads happening right now, but JaQuel’s not afraid to reach back into different eras—to use the Fosse style, for example—and mix in older steps with current dance trends.”

Gatson agrees. “A lot of people are going to be after JaQuel,” he says. “I’ve worked with many choreographers, but rarely do you meet one this talented who’s also a good guy. JaQuel’s honesty and realness and sense of fun are going to send people right to him.”

Fast Facts

Birthday: August 6, 1989

On his iPod: “Everything! Ev-ery-thing—from random house tracks to Jay-Z to Miley Cyrus. My most-played song at the moment is by a new female group that I hope to work with soon—they’re all great dancers!”

Favorite movie: “Friday, with Chris Tucker and Ice Cube. My friends will kill me if I make them watch that movie one more time. I know every line.”

Can’t live without: “My computer. I have to take it to the shop soon, and I’m afraid—a day without my baby!”

Non-dance hobby: “Hopefully, soon I’ll get back into arranging and producing music—something I used to do years ago.”

Hidden talent: “I can play three instruments: the alto saxophone, the French horn and the mellophone, which is like a trumpet version of a French horn.”

(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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