It's an exciting time of year for Danscene.
The Tillsonburg dance studio 'kicked it up' to begin its 2014 competitive dance season in Niagara Falls, March 28-30. Danscene had 33 Kick It Up dancers on stage March 28-30th at the Marriott Gateway on the Falls.
"We all spend time together and we practice together backstage," said 12-year-old Mackenzie Squires, enjoying the team bonding. "We all talk to each other about what we're going to work on and everything, and hang out. We also encourage everyone to do well on stage, as a group."
"It was really exciting to go on for the first time of the year," said Emily Christiaens, 11, after her first jazz solo. "I just liked being on stage on stage dancing, and showing the judges my dance.
"It went pretty good for my first time," added Christiaens, who earned a platinum award. But she knows there is more work to be done. "I have a lot of things to fix – there's still improvement (to be made) in my dance."
"We did pretty good," said Kennedy Elku, 9, who competed in Danscene's Start The Party, an acro group.
Her favorite move, she said, was a handstand on Jillian McPherson. "It's pretty easy," she nodded.
Going into the next competition, Flashdance this weekend in Brantford, Elku said she would be working to improve her cartwheel with McPherson, and her armstand.
"I think we're ready for it," she smiled.
"We did great," said Genevieve Jamieson, 11, who was excited to be competing in musical theatre, jazz and hip hop at Kick It Up. "And nervous... and happy."
One of the youngest in the Why We Like Spelling group, Jamieson said she's having fun in her first-ever musical theatre, which received good marks – 1st overall in musical theatre – and a platinum award.
The acting makes it a bit more challenging, she said, comparing it to her jazz and hip hop, trying to get the vocals (lip-synching) right.
"It was great, I like the acting. I get to be 'the little kid.'"
Georgia VanLouwe, 11, competed in a tap solo, tap group, jazz and lyrical groups, and a jazz duet.
"It was good, but there was room for improvement," said VanLouwe, "like fixing arms and having higher jumps."
VanLouwe received high gold marks in her first-ever tap solo.
"It was fun. At first I was really nervous, going up, but then after I started dancing I was fine. The first competition's normally the hardest because the nerves are really bad, because you haven't been in front of a judge for about a year. You're trying to do all the improvements and everyone's afraid of forgetting the dance. The last competition's still hard, but it's one of the easiest ones because we've competed for a couple months."
"We did pretty good," said Brooklyn Kints, 10, competing in jazz, tap, acro, lyrical, musical theatre, and hip hop.
Acro is her favorite dance, she said, "because you can do flips and stuff.... and my back's very bendy." But it did not generate her best results at Kick it Up. "I think I could have done better... I think we can still fix some stuff."
Brooke Sanderson, 9, did "good" in tap, jazz acro, lyrical and hip hop, receiving a platinum award – "in the 90s" – in her third year of doing a tap solo.
"Kind of nervous," Sanderson admitted. "The first competition is pretty hard. There's a lot of people going against you."
Sanderson's goal is to improve her "up with the toes," something she also focused on last season.
"It was really exciting to go on stage with all my friends," said Mackenzie Squires, who danced in a lyrical group and solo.
"First lyrical solo – and first solo," Squires smiled. "I like it because you get to experience being by yourself on stage and being able to dance and show emotion through your body on your own.
"It's harder," she said, comparing the solo experience to group, but she also learned from it.
"You learn all your mistakes. You see how you made mistakes on your own, by yourself, and not as a group."
A veteran competitor, 10-year-old Jillian McPherson said her 2014 season started off really well in tap, jazz (duet and group), lyrical, acro and hip hop.
"I thought it (the first competition) was a little bit easier than other years," said McPherson.
"I think we did pretty good. We have stuff to improve on – we can get better dances – but we did stuff pretty good."
KICK IT UP
March 28-30, Niagara Falls
Callie Berlet: Point (high gold), Lyrical (ultimate platinum)
Mackenzie Simmonds: Tap (platinum)
Lea Melchoir: Hip Hop (high gold)
Rebecca Moore: Lyrical (platinum); Hip Hop (platinum)
Emily Christiaens: Jazz (platinum)
Jillian Donck: Acro (platinum)
Elyse Pelland: Acro (ultimate platinum)
Mackenzie Squires: Lyrical (high gold)
Georgia VanLouwe: Tap (high gold)
Riley Cuddy: Jazz (platinum)
Brooke Sanderson: Tap (platinum)
Andrea Ort: Acro (platinum)
Carly Donker: Lyrical (high gold); Acro (platinum)
Tia Antoine: Hip Hop (platinum)
Rachel Hanson: Musical Theatre (platinum)
Kelsey Sanderson: Lyrical (platinum); Ballet (high gold); Tap (platinum)
Brooklyn Kints: Acro (ultimate platinum)
Hope Dekeyser: Acro (platinum)
Taneesha Larochelle: Tap (platinum)
Hope Dekeyser and Jillian Donck - ulitmate platinum
Ginny Hanson and Madison Squires - platinum
Brooke Sanderson and Jillian McPherson: Duet – platinum
Callie Berlet and Hope Dekeyser - platinum
Riley Cuddy and Georgia VanLouwe – high gold
Brooke Sanderson and Kelsey Sanderson – platinum
Rebecca Moore and Kelsey Sanderson - platinum
Callie Berlet and Elyse Pelland - platinum
Lying to the Mirror (platinum); Why We Like Spelling (platinum); Good vs Evil (ultimate platinum); The Audition (platinum); Start The Party (high gold); This Time (high gold); Everybody Eats (high gold); Critical (platinum); You Never Are (platinum); Paris Night (high gold); Wake Me Up (high gold); Good Enough (platinum); A Little Party (high gold)
Callie Berlet (ballet); Hope Dekeyser and Jillian Donck; Emily Christaens; Riley Cuddy; Tia Antoine; Rebecca Moore and Kelsey Sanderson
Why We Like Spelling (1st overall musical theatre); Tia Antoine (overall style – hip hop and scholarship); Good vs Evil (best choreography); Brooke Sanderson (3rd overall junior solo highest mark); Kelsey Sanderson (judges' choice scholarship)