Pictured: Ashlé Dawson; Photo by @SheltonCreative
DEC 27-30, 2017 • AGES 10-25
• 20 hours of dance classes with world-renowned
BDC faculty and guests artists
• Intermediate-advanced level dancers
• Junior, senior, and professional levels offered
• Train in styles including jazz technique,
ballet, theater, contemporary, improvisation,
hip-hop, and more
MOST ’D INSTAGRAM!
There was a lot of love for our
July/August cover girl, effervescent
Broadway tapper Eloise Kropp!
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you’ll be glad you did:
My dance teacher really wants all of her students to
compete, but I don’t think I’m ready—or if I even want to.
Are competitions really
important to get far in
the dance world?
—Emily G., Iowa City, IA
EDITOR’S NOTE: Turn
to “I’m a Comp Kid/I Don’t
Compete” on p. 66 to be
inspired by the stories of
two dancers—one who’s a comp-circuit regular,
and another who prefers the studio to the stage.
dancespirit.com • October 2017 • 67
I,m a Comp Kid. ZoëWattsandMadisonWarnickhavebothgrownuptrainingatTheDanceClubinOrem,UT—butnowone’sadevotedcompkid,andtheotherhastakenthenon-comproute.Here’swhytheychosedifferentpaths. AstoldtoAlisonFeller
I starteddanceclassesatayoungage.Bythetime Iwas3,IwastrainingatTheDanceClub,
and I grew up there. I started with the basics—ballet and jazz—and
eventually added tap, tumbling, contemporary, and hip hop.
Early on, I did compete. I remember my first time: I did a trio
at a small local competition, and it got first place. The trophy was
as tall as I was, and I loved it. I attended conventionsas a mini,
and had the opportunity to take classes from Travis Wall, Sonya
Tayeh, Andy Pellick, and Joey Dowling-Fakhrieh. There was so
much variety—I was in awe.
I sometimes competed solos, and did seven to eight numbers
per competition. It was a lot. We’d usually rehearse right after
school, from 3 to 9 pm. It was difficult to balance dance and
school, and there were many late nights as I tried to fit it all in.
A few years ago, I choreographed my own solo and competed
it at NYCDA. I enjoyed it more than any of my other solos—and it
got first place at Regionals. It was so rewarding to show the
judges that this is me, this is something I made. I realized I
wanted to explore my own choreography, instead of spending all
my time practicing someone else’s.
So, eventually, I stopped competing. Comp season can be
kind of crazy. I didn’t necessarily like the logistics of the whole
comp scene, partly because I’m not a competitive person in the
first place. I’d rather dance in a concert than perform for a panel
I joined my school’s dance team and began choreographing
for them, and I further developed my love of choreography. Last
year, I entered a video of one of my self-choreographed solos in a
school art contest called Reflections, and I ended up winning first
place in the dance category—not just at my school, but in the
entire country. I was invited to fly to the annual Reflections gala
in Las Vegas to perform the piece. It was a huge moment. I felt
like I’d figured out what I wanted to do.
Since then, I’ve developed many new friendships and relationships with mentors, artistic directors, and members of the dance
community. I’ve been exploring ways that will further my dance
career beyond competitions. I recently auditioned for SALT
Contemporary Dance Company’s second company, SALT II, and
earned a company contract. I’m still not entirely sure how I want
to pursue dance in the future, but I know that eventually I want
to be part of a dance environment where I’m allowed to create. I’d
love to teach other people my choreography and encourage them
to make their own movement, too. I want to help other dancers
understand that it’s more important to be better than you were
yesterday than to be better than anyone else.
Madison Warnick Mymomwasadancergrowingup,andshewent ontobecomeadanceteacher,soI’vereally
grown up in the studio. I started classes when I
was 2, and by the time I was 9, I was training at The Dance
Club and knew I wanted to dedicate all my time to dance.
I started competing my first year at TDC. We attend a few
regional competition and convention events each year, like
New York City Dance Alliance, NUVO, and JUMP, and travel to
Nationals in NYC every other year. I also attend additional
events alone throughout the year to perform my solo. I did my
first solo when I was 11, and I remember it so specifically: It was
to the song “Proud Mary,” and I rehearsed it with my mom. There
were moments when we’d butt heads and it was a struggle, but it
was the first time I remember having a relationship with my mom
through dance, realizing that we shared the same passion.
I’ve always loved taking classes—I spend up to 30 hours per week
at the studio—but performing at competition is my favorite. You only
get two to three minutes onstage, which is very little time to showcase
your talent and personality, and I love the challenge. In those few minutes,
I get to lay it all out on the floor, dance with my heart, and show the audience
what I’m capable of. I’m usually in around nine group routines each year, too,
and I love getting to be with the amazing girls on my team. Rehearsals are a time
when we really bond as a unit and get to know each other better, and the moments
we have onstage together are special and unique.
I’ve alwaysdreamed of going to college for dance. After that, who knows? I’d love
to go on tour andtravel the world dancing for people, either with asinger, in a Broadway
show, or as part of a convention. And I know spending so much time at competitions
now is helping me get there.
Since college is my main focus, I’m staying as close as I can to NYCDA, which has a
huge college scholarship program and tons of opportunities to help prepare dancers for
their futures. The faculty members are amazing and nurturing, and they’re willing to do
whatever they can to help dancersget a college education. I compete so I can pursue these
dreams and goals I have for the future, and so I can
showcase my talentsalong the way.
One of the main reasons I’m continually motivated
to keep trying—even if I fail—is because I know everything is a learning experience. Last year, I had some
pretty rough times with my solo at competition. They
say winning isn’t everything, and I’mfinally capable
of agreeing with that. It’s fun to win and it can boost
your self-esteem, but I grow the most when I don’t
win. It’s hard to realize that when you’re going
through it, or if you’re new and inexperienced in the
dance world. But once you figure that out, forget
about the scores and the placements, and just
With her New York City
Dance Alliance Teen
High Score Soloist
plaque; (inset, right)
competing at NYCDA
66 • October 2017 • dancespirit.com
In our September cover story, we incorrectly stated that Kalani
Hilliker won 2016 Teen Female Best Dancer at The Dance
Awards. She was the second runner-up.