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Students Showcase Their Dancing Skills

February 13, 2015

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Students Showcase Their Dancing Skills

Senior Peter Balcke dances with Cordelia Hogan who attends Woodberry Forest School.

Senior Peter Balcke dances with Cordelia Hogan who attends Woodberry Forest School.

Photos courtesy of Linda Hogan

Senior Peter Balcke dances with Cordelia Hogan who attends Woodberry Forest School.

Photos courtesy of Linda Hogan

Photos courtesy of Linda Hogan

Senior Peter Balcke dances with Cordelia Hogan who attends Woodberry Forest School.

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“Smile and point your feet.”

This is what senior Mecaila McClune says to herself before she steps out onto the stage for a dance competition.

Most people’s familiarity with dance competitions come from TV shows like “Dance Moms” or “Bring It,” but the over-the-top arguing is not the reality for local dancers.

“The moms here [at the studios] are nothing like that,” senior Peter Balcke, who dances for the Orange School of Performing Arts, said.

Students like McClune, Balcke and sophomore Shelby Huff rehearse for about 15-20 hours a week in order to prepare for the competitions.

McClune said that performances are “a couple hours away” and go from “early morning to late at night.”

“I’m usually nervous before,” McClune said, describing the feeling of a competition. “Most people review dance [routine], but I don’t because it stresses me out more. I focus on performing.”

McClune also dances for the Orange School of Performing Arts, which is a “30 minute commute” from her house. She has been dancing from the age of three, but has been competing since the eighth grade. McClune does not intend on using dance anything other than “enjoyment,” due to the “instability” of the work.

Senior Mecaila McClune dances with partner Lexy Foor in a duo showcase.

Senior Mecaila McClune dances with partner Lexy Foor in a duo showcase.

McClune described her usual “competitive look” to be a “French twist hair-do with a bump in the front and sparkles.” McClune described “lyrical” dancing outfits to simply be a “bra and a skirt,” while “classical ballet” is “not so showy.”

Balcke also dances for the Orange School of Performing Arts and enjoys that “everyone on the team is really close.” He started dancing at the age of 12 in need of a dancing background for musical theater.

Balcke usually practices for “15- 20 hours a week” but only competes four times a year.

“I may do some in college, like rec for fun, but I really dance because there is a specific point to dancing,” Balcke said. “Dancing is an art that almost everyone can do, but then it’s also something you have to have a passion for as well.”

Competition is “nerve wracking and long and loud,” Balcke said. “It’s nice to do well, but it’s great to get comments back from the judges so you can improve.”

Balcke also described “sitting for forever waiting for your turn, watching everyone else who is really good adds to the tension of competing as well.”

Balcke’s outfits require that he to wear “black flats, black leg[gings], and one black shirt or tank-top.” Balcke agrees that his outfits are “easier than the girls”, which have “a lot more going on.”

Huff, a sophomore, on the other hand wants to “major in dance in college and go into a professional company.”

Huff has been competitive dancing for four years now for both the Albemarle Dance Team and the Wilson School of Dance.

“I practice with Albemarle Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and I go straight to Wilson after that,” she said.

Huff says that dance is “an art.” For her, dancing is “forget[ting] your worries and express[ing] yourself.”

One way of expressing emotions through dance is through dress, which Huff also said consisted mostly of “sequins and sparkles,” and that the girls are “decked out”.

Huff travels over the summers to New York for intensive classes and this year for spring break will travel to Greenville North Carolina for more competition.

“Competitions are usually from 10:50 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays” and are “every two weeks.” Huff says a dance can be “sassy jazz to a classic,” but her favorite is “a classical ballet.” Either way, Huff “focus[es] on remembering the dance, and having no worries.”

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