The Stephen Petronio Company

For the past 22 years, with one hand on the pulse of pop culture and the other bent toward fast, aggressive movement, Stephen Petronio has been challenging audiences with dance that is filled with more slicing, slashing and piercing than the understatement of the artistic minimalist period during which he came of age. “I can remember sitting around with the generation before me and listening to people talk about color and cut and line, and nobody would ever talk about subjects,” he says. “I see dance as animalistic and sexy and embroiling and boiling, and those are the things that were interesting to me.”

 

For anyone who’s seen Petronio’s work, it’s clear that he has since thoroughly explored these interests. Stephen Petronio Company dancers are as fierce and luscious as the movement is aggressive and physical. “I make very intricate movements first, and then I build the piece out of that language,” says Petronio. “That’s the reason why I think my pieces are different. The language is idiosyncratic and original.”

 

Petronio began honing his style in 1984, when he started SPC (he had been dancing with the Trisha Brown Company for five years, where he was the first male member of her group), and quickly became known as a troublemaker within the dance community, both for being outspoken—SPC grew up alongside the AIDS crisis, and Petronio used his success as a platform for activism—as well as for the way he constructed dances. “I would create a central architectural theme, and then I would build things around that architectural theme,” he explains. “Then I would remove that central architecture, so all you saw were the [moves] that were built, but no order existed. For me that was very pleasurable. I also liked the idea of a structure that was falling apart—more decomposition than composition.” Now, he admits, “I am more generous about letting the audience recognize what’s happening onstage.”

 

Even so, his signature look is still a constant stream of movement. It took time to develop, though, because for years he thought it was a shortcoming. “Somebody once told me that when I dance, it was like turning on a faucet that wouldn’t stop. At first I was hurt, and then I realized [it] was my special talent so I developed that talent—and then I went on to learn to vary [the quality].” According to SPC member Gino Grenek, Petronio uses the same philosophy when nurturing his dancers: “Stephen has a wonderful ability to take what you can give as a dancer to the next level. Things that you are very comfortable with, he’ll take and push you further in.”

The Birth of New Work
Petronio’s newest works will premiere in April, at NYC’s Joyce Theater. BLOOM and Bud Suite are both set to the music of singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright, whose melodic, mournful voice may seem like an unnatural match to Petronio’s angular, jagged movements, yet they mesh like a good book and a stormy day.

 

This season is consciously relatively light in subject matter, something the company’s due for, considering the last few dances Petronio has added to the repertory were made in post–9/11 NYC, and were, in his words, “dark, disjointed pieces.” The Island of Misfit Toys, for example, choreographed in 2003, was set to the recorded music of Lou Reed from The Velvet Underground, the influential psychedelic rock band of the late 1960s, and incorporated giant sets depicting babies with scooped-out faces and a recording of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” read by character actor Willem Dafoe.

 

Misfit set a somber mood, but it also facilitated the partnership between Wainwright and Petronio. One of the songs in Misfit was Reed’s Balloon, sung by Wainwright’s mom, Kate McGarrigle and her sister Anna. “When I realized that was Rufus’ mother, I called Rufus and said ‘your mother is singing one of Lou Reed’s songs in my show, and I’d love for you to come and see it,’” Petronio recalls. At the after party, he asked Wainwright if he’d like to collaborate.

Creative Synergy
Armed with the titles Bud and BLOOM—Petronio always has a title before choreographing—he started the collaboration process by explaining what the words mean to him. “Bud is interested in partnerships: physical partnerships, female duets, male duets, female quartets, groups, chaotic relationships, and I gave the dance the name because it’s a guy thing—buddy, bud, buddy-slash-relationship. But I also wanted Bud to be the germ, the germination point for BLOOM.”


He didn’t cast himself, because the work is a celebration of “going from something with potential to something that’s full,” says Petronio, 50, who often performs with the company. “I want it to [exhibit] popping youth—that irrepressible stage of your life,” he says. “I don’t really see someone at the stage of my life inherent to that portrayal.” Perhaps Wainwright’s youth—at 33, he’s the same age as the oldest members of the company—is in part what made him an attractive partner for this project.


Set with how the collaboration would play out, the two still needed common ground, especially since Wainwright had never before composed for dance. They soon found a mutual affinity for language. “Words are really important to me,” says Petronio. “Although [my] work is not a narrative, words inform how I work and how I think about the work.”

 

The two artists eventually agreed on using Walt Whitman’s “Unseen Buds” and “One’s-Self I Sing” verbatim, as lyrics for Bud Suite. Wainwright also incorporated the Lux Aeterna, or light eternal, a Catholic mass sung in Latin. “Whitman’s structure is akin to the type of movement I make,” says Petronio. “It held [the choreography] very nicely. It was like a canvas I could paint on, and the Latin was gorgeous and reverential, but also didn’t limit me in terms of having to illustrate the meaning, ’cause who understands Latin?” The choral score will be performed live by the Young People’s Chorus of New York. The score for BLOOM comprises four songs that have been released before on various albums.

A Split Bill
If the first half of the evening belongs to Wainwright, the second belongs to Stravinsky. Petronio’s version of The Rite of Spring, which he choreographed in 1992, is set to the famous Stravinsky score. This work, titled The Rite Part, will be a restaging of the original 35-minute piece, titled Full Half Wrong, and is largely about empowerment. The stage of his life when the piece was created, Petronio says, was sympathetic to the anger with which Stravinsky composed the music, and complements BLOOM and Bud Suite. “Stravinsky just banged [the piano] like a drum at some points. I felt there was something violent about that,” Petronio says. “And the whole spring cycle is a viscously violent thing—a kind of unstoppable urge to push through the ground.”

 

Stravinsky’s version also brought pagan themes to the art world. “That was kind of the birth of modernism,” says Petronio, “and that pagan notion of the community choosing a virgin and sacrificing her to the gods of fertility, so that the crops could grow, I thought was radical in that time and horrifying in this time.” Petronio was also intrigued by the fact that modern people would refer to the original ballet without talking about how sexist it is. The Rite Part, which he calls the anti-sacrifice, is his response to that sexism. His virgin, played by Shila Tirabassi, is “aggressive and empowered, not trembling and waiting to get into King Kong’s hands,” he says.

Choreographic Responsibility
Petronio’s choreographic style could also be described as aggressive and empowered. “I love the fact that [when performing any of his works] there’s not a guarantee that when you start the show you’re going to be standing when it’s all over,” says Grenek. “Some of my best performances have been the ones where I’ve fallen flat on my face, because I’ve just really gone for it—and the work requires that. If you kind of do it halfway, there’s no point. You might as well stay home.”


Early in his career, Petronio chose to create alone in the studio, but now describes dance-making as a social job. “I’ll walk into the [process] and often have an idea,” he explains, “but rarely a specific move. Generally it’s about what’s going to happen in the studio that day.” To make the method work, Petronio surrounds himself with technically trained dancers who aren’t afraid to take risks.


For the dancers, the most exciting part about working with Petronio is that he creates an environment in which they’re expected to take risks. Dancer Amanda Wells says the coolest and most challenging part of dancing with SPC is that “Stephen allows us to have freedom within a structure, so it challenges us to go beyond what we’re used to. It’s easy to slip into something fancy or pretty, but he wants us to do something that’s different, interesting and individualistic,” she says.


If you’re the type of dancer who needs to be told what to do, you’re not right for this company. Petronio gives the dancers a great deal of voice when it comes to the choreography, though it’s not about listening to what they have to say as much as it’s about engaging them creatively. “I’ll show them something or say something and they’ll have a response, and that may or may not become the choreography,” he explains. “But when the actual steps are made, I make steps and sew them into phrases.”


He will then often give the dancers tasks to accomplish, such as asking one dancer to do just the arms of the phrase and another dancer to do just the legs, or asking them to do the entire phrase while moving backwards as if the floor were crumbling. Out of this exploration he finds what he wants, and though he encourages the dancers, it’s challenging when they “begin slamming alternative information at me to see if I want it,” he says. “Sometimes it gets to a point where I have to repress them, and it’s a delicate balance, because you never know when somebody will do something fabulous or accidental that you’re going to love…. I really value unconscious finds in composition.” When dancer Shila Tirabassi first joined the company, she was struck by the fact that he trusted his dancers so much. “He would put something out there and then allow each dancer to do it [her] own unique way,” she says. “My previous experience was trying to fit a mold.”

Something to Communicate
Individualism is the cornerstone of SPC, and even though Petronio’s work is rarely narrative, his dancers must say something unique through their movement. “I like people to have incredibly strong technique, which frees their soul,” he says. “I mean, that’s what I look for—people who have something to dance about.” They also have to be virtuosic without being overstated. “I think of it like an amazing tailored suit, without understanding why it’s well tailored. If you can tell they’re virtuosos then you might as well be at the circus.” Wells, for instance, has incredible facility, explains Petronio, but in previous years, there was something missing. “Just this year she’s doing the same movement, but now she’s dancing about something, and that I find thrilling—dancers have a voice and it’s coming from some deep, unconscious place.”

 

When asked about her awakening, Wells says that the making of Bud has helped her come into her own, partly because two of SPC’s senior members left the company before the creative process. “We’ve all unified to make this piece,” she says. “And I walked into this process with [more] confidence. I’m feeling more and more comfortable in my own skin. I trust myself more, and I’ve always trusted Stephen.”

 

The challenge to harness their individual voices is acute for the dancers, since the movement is so detailed. “There’s very fast work; it’s very complicated work and it’s very technical work,” says Grenek. “If you start thinking about all of those elements, you’re stuck before you even begin.” For some, like Davalois Fearon, getting the movement meant changing the way she looked at choreography. “I have to go deeper in order to understand exactly what I’m doing—not just seeing [the movement] on the surface, but seeing the motivation [behind] the movement,” she says.

 

Understanding the motivation is half the battle. Getting the tricky choreography also takes an understanding of how each sequence travels through the body. According to dancer Jonathan Jaffe, a movement may “start from your fingertips and go through your shoulder and spiral and twist and come out your trochanter.” Plus, there could be multiple sequences going on at the same time. In order to handle the physical demands of Petronio’s style, Tirabassi says, “you have to keep your body and your mind in absolute tip-top shape. If you let anything, like your sleep [schedule], slide, then it could lead to a breakdown or an injury.”

A Member of the Company
SPC doesn’t have formal dancer contracts, but rather verbal agreements to stay with the company for at least two years. It takes at least one year for a dancer to get good at the movement, says Petronio, after which he wants a year of that dancer looking good. Attending an audition or a workshop is the best way to try to get into the company. “Sending your resumé blindly doesn’t work for me. E-mailing me blindly doesn’t work for me,” Petronio says. “There are so many things in the day, and that doesn’t get any attention.”

 

Perhaps the most important expectation of Petronio’s dancers is that the company be their first priority. “This is a big bone of contention,” Petronio admits. “Everything else, including making your real living—because this is not enough money to live on—your school and your love affairs and all that stuff happens around me. I am your first thought and your first commitment.”

 

Petronio is demanding, but not disrespectful. The company is a tight, well-oiled machine kept together by a mixture of passion, trust and mutual admiration. “I’m surrounded by talented, intelligent, risk-taking people and that’s an amazing part of my job,” says Wells. For newer members, like Jaffe, the camaraderie among the members is crucial. “I really, really love the movement but I [also] really admire my fellow dancers,” he explains.

 

Dancer Elena Demyanenko is driven by something else—the opportunity to find her own interpretation of Petronio’s vision: “I like to think that the time when dancers are only expressing the personalities of their choreographers, by memorizing a language that is superimposed on their bodies, is not as dominant anymore,” she says.

(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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