The Maryville Dance Academy dancers put themselves to the test this past week with a trip to Ames, Iowa, for the BravO! National Dance and Talent Competition.
They passed every test thrown at them, collecting a pair of national championships and being named one of three Standout Overture Studios of the Year.
“It is my favorite time of the year,” Anna Adwell said. “You get to be with the studio that you've practiced with all year long and get to see what all the studios bring to the table and see if we can beat them.”
For the dancers, it was great to return to competition this year after the rocky past year with a lack of competitions and restrictions on the dancers when they could compete.
“It was way better than last year because we got to go to a bunch of competitions and see people dancing different styles,” Kenlee Wilson said.
The first big award for the Maryville studio was won by Kensley Wood. Wood won a national championship with her solo performance of 'Tough Lover.'
“It was really exciting for me,” Wood said. “I've never won at nationals. I've won at competition before, but I've never won national champion. It just made me feel really good.
“It really was a goal for me to win nationals, because nobody ever really wins their solo or duo at nationals. It is harder at nationals because there are so many more people there. All the dances I watched were really good — so I was really proud of myself.”
Her win also got her a scholarship. Wood was happy that the judges responded to the emotion she put into the dance.
“I felt like in this dance, I could perform a lot more,” Wood said. “It was just a different type of song. It was way more upbeat and they really liked that type of dance this year.”
The big first day of the competition continued as Jacoby Driskell was named the Overture Performer of the Year for her solo 'Confident.' Driskell had won a scholarship for her other solo 'All I Want' earlier in the day.
Dena Mullock won a scholarship as well with her solo performance of 'Real Wild Child.'
Maryville Dance Academy ended the BravO! Spirit Award as well for how they performed as a group, and supported each other and their competitors.
“It was a lot of fun,” Claire Nickerson said.
The final day of the competition set up some of the biggest honors of the week.
The production of 'Let's Get Groovy' won the national championship. All 44 Maryville Dance Academy dancers regardless of age and experience competed as part of the production and earned the national championship as a group.
“I'm really glad that the production was what won with everybody and not just one of our groups,” Wood said. “It was a dance with everybody.”
The final award of the competition for the Maryville group of dancers came as Maryville Dance Academy was named the Standout Overture Studio of the Year. The dancers credit their coaches with their success. The coaches who attended nationals were Darbi Fuhrman, Amanda Dye, Alyson Dye, Isabelle Cahill, Karsen Vincent and Buffie Lance.
“We are a really big family here at MDA and I really appreciate Darbi, Amanda, Alyson and all of our teachers and (studio director) Cammi (Zimmerman),” Maggie Webb said.
While the coaches certainly help the young dances, the older dancers also take pride in helping their younger teammates.
“It is really fun to watch the baby sparkles grow and get bigger,” Adwell said. “I remember Mollie (Webb), she used to be like a little baby and now her group won like everything this weekend. It is really exciting to watch them all.”
Mollie Webb says she felt confident going into her dances even though she still gets nerves right before taking the stage.
“It was more fun than scary,” Mollie Webb said. “But at the beginning right before you are about to go on stage, it is really stressful.”
Maryville Dance Academy finished the competition with 44 platinum awards, 54 Elite High Gold awards and 38 overall placements. They had nine category winners and five Judges' Choice awards.
In addition to the studio awards, scholarships and national champions; they won awards for overall entertainment, choreography and the Standing O!Vation Award.
“It was very eye-opening with how well we can dance together,” Kiah Bennett said.