More than anything this year, Just Dance! Company Director Lindsey Gentry and Assistant Director Gracen Nelson wanted to showcase more of our dancer’s versatility – taking their training from the studio to the competition stage.
We’ve always required training in all dance genres, but it seemed overwhelming to compete in many genres in many age groups considering our company only has 28 dancers. It really took the commitment of the entire team, and our entire faculty to be named National Outstanding Studio.
New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA) places an emphasis on versatility in dance training and requires their National Outstanding Studio winners to compete 10 dances equally distributed between age groups and representing the following genres: ballet, hip hop, jazz, musical theatre, contemporary/lyrical. Half of the dances must be choreographed by in-house faculty.
Because Just Dance! Company is so small, we had to rely on every single dancer to take responsibility not just for themselves, but for the team as a whole. We worked through many days of tears, sweat, laughter, frustration, joy, and so many other emotions. We tried really hard to keep it from feeling like a lot of pressure, but luckily we have some amazing dancers who were ready to handle this season!
In addition to winning NYCDA National Outstanding Studio, Just Dance! also had four dances selected as National Critic’s Choice Nominees – the most possible: Hit the Dance Floor (mini), Creators (junior), All That Jazz (teen), Hide and Seek (senior).
Two of those dances were choreographed by very recent Just Dance! alumni. Gracen Nelson, class of 2019, choreographed Crave You, a junior jazz group, and Hide and Seek, a senior contemporary group. Justice Wooden, class of 2021, choreographed Hit the Dance Floor, a mini hip hop group. Both of these dances were selected as National Critic’s Choice Nominees – a huge honor for any choreographer. We can’t wait to see what these talented alum will accomplish!
We are so grateful to NYCDA and Joe Lanteri for their unwavering commitment to dancers. At Nationals, it was an honor to compete alongside such talented, humble, and kind studios and dancers! We could not have done it without the tireless planning and preparing that Ms. Lindsey and Ms. Gracen did. Plus, Ms. Gracen also graduated from the College of Charleston this year – a year early!