South Surrey’s Dance Effect studio dancers have reason to celebrate after a strong showing in their first-ever international competitive event.
Studio founder and director Nathalie Heath (finalist for So You Think You Can Dance Canada and dancer/choreographer for Barbie) took 24 young dancers in three different groups to the New York City Dance Alliance’s regional convention in Vancouver, Wash., Jan. 23-25.
The studio’s junior group (11- to 12-year-olds) received a judges’ choice award for the junior jazz piece ‘When A Fire Starts To Burn’ and the studio also received a judges’ choice award for teen hip hop group for ‘T-2’.
“That involved all 24 of the dancers – it’s very exciting for all of them to get that acknowledgement,” Heath said.
The event was also notable for recognition of two boy dancers who were judged eligible to qualify for the NYCDA national event, held in New York in September.
Hayden Rivas, 11, was judged outstanding as a junior dancer in his ballet and jazz auditions, as well participation in classes and dance etiquette.
Shane Killoran, 15, was similarly judged outstanding for his work in tap, ballet, jazz and lyrical dance.
“I make sure that the students take everything so that when they go to conventions like this they are equipped to handle all these classes,” Heath noted.
Another of her dancers, James Brown, 15, won a regional convention scholarship sponsored by breakout choreographer Peter Chu, who is in the process of founding a company in New York.
Heath admitted she had some trepidation about taking a group to the NYCDA regionals so early in the studio’s history – it’s only been up and running since last September.
“I was getting worried at the prospect of such an early competition, but the kids were really on board and I was very impressed with how quickly everything came together when it was cram time,” she said.
She added that while the effort took a lot of work, it was also very rewarding – demonstrating both the dancers’ passion and resilience.
“At the end of the day there were lots of happy kids – and that, to me, is the most important part of all.”