Center Stage Dance School of Performing Arts, with one studio located in Garner and the other right here on Broad Street in the historic Varina retail district, took its dance team members to the Showstoppers Convention at the Landmark Resort in Myrtle Beach this past weekend.
A two and a half day extravaganza of dance classes and performances by celebrity dancers, the weekend kicked off with a pajama party at the SeaMist Resort. The dancers dressed in all kinds of pajama styles and joined in dance games for over an hour in the event MC’d by entertainer Keltie Colleen. Colleen, a former Rockette that is best known for her stint on “The Bachelor” and the recent film “Footloose,” ran a lively party, complete with dancing, competitive games, and several “Strut your Stuff” opportunities for the participants.
Saturday morning kicked off early for the junior and mini teams, with 7:30 a.m. warmup and hip hop classes with Dena Rizzo. Rizzo, a renowned hip hop dancer and choreographer and one of the biggest names in the dance world, led the dancers in warm-up exercises and encouraged them to “get in touch with themselves” when they dance. After warmup, dancers chose between hip-hop, lyrical, tap, and jazz classes with instructors like Angel Roberts, Geo Hubela, Ashley Valerio, Jackelyn Gauci, Aaron Burr, and Haley Mac. Senior dancers started a bit later, at 11:00 am, but enjoyed the same instructors over the course of the day. Specialty classes, such as Pom-Pom training, Acting Tips, and Rockette Class provided extra options for those who were interested.
For many of the dancers, this is the one time each year that they get to train with nationally-renowned instructors that perform professionally. The participants were more than happy to dance for several hours in a row for the chance to learn from the pros. “The teachers were amazing!” exclaimed Center Stage team dancer Kennedy Fowle of Holly Springs. “They teach us step-by-step at a pace that everyone can do, and the dances are awesome!”
Sunday’s instructors included 7-time National Clogging Champion Brandon Norris, Blue Cervini (jazz), tWitch from “So You Think You Can Dance,” Ryan Lohoff from “Star Search,” and Keltie Colleen. Specialty classes included Funky Jazz with Gev Manoukian, Audition Class with Broadway veteran Judine Somerville, and Leaps and Turns with Alexia Agdeppa from “So You Think You Can Dance.”
“I learned so much about how to remember dance moves in a fast-paced environment,” said senior team member Katie Griffin from Fuquay-Varina. “The repetition and the patience of the instructors taught me things about myself as a dancer that I can take back to the studio here at home and use to keep improving.”
According to team director Wren Peele, this convention provides her students with exposure to top-level instructors AND an opportunity to show off what they already know before the competition season gets underway. “The best part about Showstoppers is that Center Stage dancers often get called on stage to help the teachers during the classes!” Ms. Peele explains. “It’s a testament to how well our students are trained. It also lets parents know that they are getting the best dance instruction from the studio because famous professionals are hand-picking our students to showcase their talents. As a teacher, it makes me proud that my students can hang with the big dogs of dance!” And this convention was no exception, with over a half dozen Center Stage students called up on stage at various times over the weekend.
The Center Stage Dance Team’s trip to Showstoppers Convention kicks off the competition season. The first dance competition for the team is in March, and the dancers have been training hard since September to be ready for the new season. Center Stage School of Performing Arts has a full schedule of regular classes in their Fuquay-Varina studio plus several dance teams, including the award-winning clogging team, both junior -and senior-level jazz teams, and a mini hip-hop team.
For more information about the studio’s team program or their regular dance and music classes, please call 779-5242 and speak with either Glenda or Wren Peele.