The New Wade Robson Project: Cirque du Soleil in Vegas

It was July 2007, and Wade Robson was teaching his annual master classes at The Pulse in NYC when Canadian theater director Serge Denoncourt called him. Denoncourt was writing a groundbreaking Cirque du Soleil show with TV-celebrity magician Criss Angel. The show, CRISS ANGEL Believe, would be a thrilling fusion of dance and magic. Denoncourt dreamt it up with only one choreographer in mind—Wade Robson.

 

Denoncourt ignored Robson’s initial claims that he was too busy to do the show. “I had to meet that guy,” Denoncourt says. “Sometimes you have to follow your instincts.”

 

He wanted Robson so badly that he stopped in NYC on his way from Las Vegas to Montreal for a half-hour meeting with the choreographer. All it took was one drink at a Grand Central Station bar, and Robson was ready to temporarily move with his wife and cats to Las Vegas.

 

“The first thing he told me was that there’s nothing cute in this show,” Robson says. “There are no little moments of razzle dazzle or ‘ta-da’ magic. It’s a story from beginning to end. The illusions and dance happen for a purpose. Everything is intertwined. In 15 seconds, I was sold.”

 

The Basic Elements
Perhaps you saw the sneak peek of the CRISS ANGEL Believe cast performing on the season four finale of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Maybe you’ve already bought tickets to the show, which premiered in September. But if this is the first time you’re hearing about it, the cat is out of the bag—or should we say, the rabbit is out of the top hat—this show is mind-blowing.

 

CRISS ANGEL Believe explores the darkness within all of us. Angel’s character rejects what Denoncourt calls “the cute, romantic side” of human nature and instead embraces “the side we don’t want to talk about.” It’s a scary story—a surrealistic journey of self-discovery. “The show looks like a dream that you’d tell Dr. Freud—a dream Dr. Freud would have a lot of fun interpreting!” Denoncourt says.

 

The story unfolds on a stage that looks like a broken down Italian opera theater, and it takes on new forms as Angel enters different realms. Characters and puppets lure him along the way. (The puppets were created by Michael Curry, who also co-designed the animals for Broadway’s The Lion King.) And throughout the show, Angel performs illusions with modern twists.

 

“I wanted to bring magic into the 21st century and get rid of the old clichés of a guy in a top hat shoving a woman in a leotard into a box,” Angel says. “That’s not the magic you’ll see in this show.”

 

The score, created by film composer Eric Serra, is part rock, part electronic. Its dramatic melodies contribute to the show’s eerie mood and matches Robson’s rhythmic choreography.

 

The wardrobe, which was constructed by costume designer Mérédith Caron, also tells the story. The couture Victorian costumes are exquisite—enough to give dancer Martha Nichols “chills just thinking about them.” (Remember her from season 2 of “SYTYCD”?) Though they’re layered and heavy, Caron worked with Robson to tailor the outfits in a way that would allow the dancers to move.

 

It’s become a tradition to use mega technology in Cirque shows, and CRISS ANGEL Believe is no exception. During pre-show rehearsals, technicians on laptops could be seen all over the theater. Engineering the show was a 24-hour process, and when the dancers left their 10-hour-a-day rehearsals, a night crew got to work.


The Moves
The performers learned a style dancer Logan Schyvynck calls “Wade” (similar to the way Fosse movements are simply called “Fosse”). And there isn’t just a little bit of “Wade” in this show, there’s a whole lot—dance makes up 90 percent of the show, according to Nichols. (She doesn’t even see her dressing room until her eighth costume change!) And it’s not the kind of movement that a dancer can cheat.

 

“If it was just straight technical stuff, you could fake what you couldn’t do,” Nichols explains. “But you can’t because it’s ‘Wade,’ which is off-center, full-bodied, rhythmic and character-oriented. It’s hard-hitting one minute and smooth the next.”

 

Beside one designated hip-hop number, Robson describes the genre of dance simply as movement. “It’s free form—whatever the story or music demands,” Robson says. “Serge would give me one word, like this is a ‘torture’ number, and I’d just go nuts! I’d pull out all sorts of props and try things.” Before he started choreographing, Robson conducted workshops with the dancers to learn how their bodies moved, and used this to inspire his choreography. Animal-like steps, which Robson is known for (remember his Emmy-nominated “Hummingbird” choreography on season 3 of “SYTYCD”?) are also used. Expect creatures, such as rabbits, this time.

 

“There’s nothing Vegas-y about the dancing in CRISS ANGEL Believe,” Robson says. “It’s organic, in your face and dirty. It’s raw and rough.”


Working with the Master
Robson isn’t only known for his brilliant choreography, but also for his charisma. He’s patient and down-to-earth—a true gentleman. “Prince Charming” is his nickname among the females in the cast, and he’ll work one-on-one with dancers until everyone picks up each move. Robson and wife Amanda Rodriguez have been known to invite the cast and crew to their home for BBQ and taco nights. The cast feels like a family.

 

“One time, the girls were having a rough day and feeling emotional,” Nichols says. “Then we had rehearsal with Wade. He walked in and said, ‘Wow! The energy in this room is really thick. Talk to me. What’s going on?’ He can just tell if something is off and actually cares about how we’re doing.”


The Trilogy
The dancers aren’t the only ones who enjoy working with Robson. Denoncourt says that although it’s normal for directors and choreographers to fight, this is not the case for him and Robson. Denoncourt feels lucky to have found someone he’s trusted from the start.

 

Robson agrees, saying they always try to back each other up. He also believes that while Denoncourt doesn’t dance, he understands the art. “I’m not a choreographer, and I will never be one,” Denoncourt says, “But if I would have been a choreographer, I’d want to be Wade Robson!”

 

Add a third creator, Angel, to the mix and the result is a trio of geniuses. And they work extremely well together.

 

Still, Nichols says that at times, the creative process got heated. “Wade would say, ‘I want this choreography to go here.’ Criss would respond, ‘It can’t be here because this illusion has to go here,’” she explains. “Then Serge would say, ‘I have a solution!’ And it all worked out.” Their ability to get along has produced what the threesome says is a show with a clear vision.


What Happens in Vegas
Regardless of how impressive the show might be, getting dancers on board wasn’t easy. In fact, Robson describes it as a bit of a tug-of-war. Up until now, being in a Cirque production wasn’t a goal for most dancers trying to make it in the commercial scene or on Broadway.

 

There’s always been lots of dancing in Las Vegas—the Nevada Ballet Theatre and Céline Dion’s “A New Day” featuring choreography by Mia Michaels, to name a few. But most labeled Las Vegas as a city for showgirls. Cirque shows like O, KÀ and Mystère only flirt with dance. It wasn’t until 2006, when The Beatles LOVE, Cirque du Soleil opened, that dance became a major attraction in a Cirque show. The CRISS ANGEL Believe creators say that this show contains even more dancing than LOVE. It will keep the spotlight on Las Vegas so that dancers will want to go there to find work.

 

“We’re just at the beginning of a shift,” Robson says. “Cirque is creating a new outlet. People are going to be really surprised when they see the dancing in this show.”


The Show Must Go On
Denoncourt hopes CRISS ANGEL Believe will run for at least 10 years. And when asked what’s next, he and Robson reply that they’d both love to work together again. Robson also hopes to make a dance movie with his wife. And Angel plans to continue doing his A&E Network show, “Mindfreak,” while working on his clothing line, MF13, and appearing in movies.

 

But before they get there, they’re concentrating on the storm CRISS ANGEL Believe is creating in Las Vegas. They know audiences will not walk away from it unaffected. “We’re doing things that have never been done or even attempted in the theater in general,” Angel says. “Expect the unexpected.”

 

“The title of the show is CRISS ANGEL Believe,” Denoncourt says. “It means believe in yourself. Believe in what can happen to you.”

(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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