University of Louisville Ladybirds Spill the Secrets of their Success

The University of Louisville Ladybirds Dance Team hopes to make history this month by bringing home a fourth consecutive Division IA win at National Dance Alliance’s college Nationals. But these grand champs know it won’t be easy. “There is something beautiful about crowning a new champion,” says Spirit Coordinator and Assistant Coach Todd Sharp. “It’s natural to want to pull for someone who is right there at the threshold but hasn’t won, so I tell the girls every day: ‘When you are defending a title, you have to be so much better than the second place team that it would be impossible to place them higher.’”

Defending Champs
The Ladybirds are known for bringing athletic, edgy routines to Nationals, but as the team continues to rack up titles, taking the gold is becoming increasingly difficult. “You have people who are tired of seeing Louisville win,” says junior Nicole Mires. “If I were a judge, I’d look for any reason to let somebody else have the glory for a year, so there has to be a clear line between first and second place.”

 

In their four seasons on the Ladybirds, the team’s three seniors have known nothing but victory. “They want this more than anything,” says Ladybirds Coach Sheryl Knight, who also danced on the team when she was in college. “They know the weight that is on their shoulders,” she says, explaining that if the team is able to defend its title, the seniors will be the only class in Ladybirds history to win all four years.

 

Senior Tiffany Smith says that winning is all she thinks about these days. “Every morning when I get ready for school, I put on [one of] my Nationals rings and I think, ‘God, what I would do for one more.’”

Winning Routine

NDA requires college Nationals routines to include at least 30 seconds each of pom, hip hop and jazz, so every dance team must have diverse training, in addition to a style or attitude that will set them apart from the rest. Last year, the Ladybirds distinguished themselves by bringing in a male dancer, Wes Haley (who has since graduated). This year, however, Tiffany says the team’s edge will be showcasing an excellence in all three required genres, not just what they are known for—pom and hip hop.

 

Though Sheryl creates the bulk of routines in a given season, she and Todd occasionally bring in outside help to expose the team to different styles. For instance, this year, guest choreographer Karl Mundt, who has choreographed for such top teams as three-time Universal Dance Association champs University of Minnesota, taught the Ladybirds a three-day jazz workshop and set a routine.

 

A Ladybirds Nationals routine is created from dances that the team learns throughout the season and performs at football and basketball games. This year, Sheryl incorporated between 15 and 20 seconds of Karl’s jazz choreography, then she choreographed the pom and hip-hop sequences and began experimenting with patterns. “I piece together different sections to see how they flow, but it’s all trial and error,” she says. “If I don’t like the way the jazz flows into the pom, or if the music isn’t hitting me, I’ll change things around, pick new songs or change the choreography so it’s compatible with the team.” By mid-February, the Nationals routine was finished and the dancers began running it full out.

 

But Sheryl stays tight-lipped about the particulars of this year’s number, saying that she wants it to be a surprise. “It’s very different from what we’ve done in years past,” she concedes. “It spotlights more of our individual talents and has a stronger jazz base. We have the reputation for being the athletic pom and hip-hop squad, so we’re trying to show another facet of the team.”

 

Winner’s Circle
Each year, NDA Collegiate Nationals are held in Daytona Beach—finals take place on a stage right on the sand, with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. Teams that make it to finals perform in reverse order from how they placed at prelims. After competing, the team with the highest score stands in a “Winner’s Circle” on the side of the stage until ousted by another higher-scoring team. “Sometimes I don’t like watching the other team, because I’m like, okay, if they mess up and this is our score, then we’re all right. The feeling is nerve-wracking,” says Nicole of standing in the circle. “Your heart is rattling and you’re sweating.”

 

For Tiffany, on the other hand, getting to the circle is a relief. “You’ve done your best, and it’s out of your hands,” she explains. “We always turn to each other and say, ‘I’m so proud of you, because you stepped up and made it happen for you and for me.’ But of course, your heart is racing, your palms are sweating and you’re out of breath from dancing, and it’s just the most amazing [thing] I’ve ever felt.”

 

The Ladybirds get help staying strong at Nationals from UL’s two cheer squads—an all-girls and a coed team—which have Nationals in Daytona at the same time with NDA’s sister company, National Cheerleading Alliance. Both competitions take turns on the stage. “There is a lot of respect between the Ladybirds and the cheerleaders,” says Nicole. “We travel together, practice in the same gym, and at Nationals we support each other. When we’re out there on the beach, they are pounding the floor and screaming for us. When we’re at our low point and getting tired, they just start screaming louder.”

 

In general, the cheering crowd at Nationals tends to drown out the music, but after a season of performing with each other, the team can stay synchronized no matter what. “We spend so much time together that if the music stopped, I don’t think any dancer would skip a beat,” says Tiffany. “We could do the routine with our eyes closed and ears plugged.” In a genre based on the ability of many dancers to move as one entity, the team attitude of the Ladybirds is a given. “If Ladybirds is not your way, if you don’t conform and assimilate, then you won’t last,” says Tiffany. “I don’t think anybody on that Nationals mat has ever been dancing only for themselves. It’s always about the team.”

Spirit Town
The community of Louisville is a hotbed for dance and cheer, home to numerous nationally ranked all-star and public high school dance teams that feed into the Ladybirds. Moreover, Todd and Sheryl both work at a private gym called Planet Dance, where Tiffany trained, and with Floyd Central High School, where Nicole danced. In addition to those institutions, Todd adds Assumption, Louisville Male and Louisville Eastern high schools to the list of perennial UDA and NDA finalists. (Both organizations have high school and college competitions.) According to Todd, roughly 60 percent of the Ladybirds come from either Planet Dance or one of the other feeder public high schools.

 

Ladybird dancers aren’t recruited in the traditional sense, though Todd and Sheryl often encourage their high school dancers to try out, which can sometimes change a dancer’s college plans at the last minute. When Tiffany was a high school senior, for example, she planned to attend Miami University of Ohio, until Sheryl convinced her to try out for the Ladybirds. (Auditions are held in the spring for everyone, including potential incoming freshmen.) After making the cut, Tiffany realized that she wanted to be a Ladybird bad enough to switch to UL.

 

Being a Ladybird takes a considerable commitment. Tryouts are held right after Nationals in April and though returning seniors are exempt, they still have to help out. In the subsequent months, team members are encouraged to hone their technique and take classes to stay strong. They meet several times in the summer, attend camp in August and when school begins, launch into football season. The team is expected to attend football and basketball games at home, and travel to away games that are within a six-hour drive. (They sometimes dance at other sporting games as well.) Practices are scheduled several times per week, along with two sessions with a personal trainer. According to Sheryl, the Ladybirds also amass upwards of 400 hours of community service a season, and must fundraise throughout the year to supplement the modest budget provided by UL for costumes, travel expenses and other team-related activities.

 

During Nationals season, however, workouts with the trainer are upped to three times per week to build stamina, and while other college kids are heading to Cancun for spring break, the Ladybirds are scheduling two practices a day. “We make it fun,” says Nicole. “We’ll have dress-up days and stuff.” Because UL’s Division I basketball team often has conference championships within a few weeks of Nationals, the Ladybirds have been known to hold their practices in hotel ballrooms after performing at the games.

 

“All year is a practice for April,” says Todd. “The goal is to win, and I have never understood when coaches feel ashamed about that. Ranking first is a fantastic payout for the kids and for all the effort you put in. In the years we haven’t been defending, we just want to do our best and move up the ranks. But when you’re a defending champion, nothing is going to feel good other than repeating that win.”

 

Going Collegiate
Tips for college-bound high school dancers.

There are many differences between participating on a dance team in high school versus college. First of all, practices tend to be shorter in college to accommodate academic and work schedules, so dancers must be able to pick up choreography faster. There are also more games to attend in college, which means more routines to learn so crowds don’t tire of seeing the same dances over and over. Other differences: High school teams usually have one routine that emphasizes a particular strength—such as hip hop, pom or jazz—learned in June, performed all year and then used at competition, whereas collegiate teams must be proficient in all three styles.

 

If you are thinking of dancing competitively in college, here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. “If you’re not already in a ballet or jazz technique class, get in one right away.” —Sheryl Knight, Ladybirds Coach
  2. “There is no one who could be at this level without preparing in high school. Join an all-star team, if not both a high school and all-star team.” —Tiffany Smith, senior Ladybirds dancer
  3. “Be responsible for knowing material, keeping up technique and picking up steps quickly, because when I see college girls struggle initially, it’s usually because they’re not used to being held accountable.” —Todd Sharp, University of Louisville Spirit Coordinator 
  4. “The more you work out the better. That means running and lifting weights to build up stamina and upper body strength.” —Sheryl
  5. “It’s extremely important to know all of the styles—even technique in hip hop.” —Tiffany
  6. “Try gymnastics classes to learn to leap and jump. Our team is very athletic, so we look for people who have the ability to get their jumps off the floor and who have the upper body strength to execute the tricks we do.” —Sheryl
(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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