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Starpower World Title Competition
Written By: Tish Michel
*Click images below to view larger versions.
Starpower World Title Competition
Dream On, The Next Jennaration photo provided by UEP
Starpower World Title Competition
LLC, Studio Bleu photo provided by UEP
Starpower World Title Competition
O Holy Night, Studio Bleu photo provided by UEP
Starpower World Title Competition
Le Corsaire, Studio Bleu photo provided by UEP
    This week I’m attending the 25th annual Starpower World Title Competition for Dance for ages primarily 19 and under although there were some categories for 20 and over.  All the competitors had to place at a certain level at one of the regional competitions to be able to compete at this world championship event held at our convention center.  If you happen to be reading this article early Friday morning, stop now and head directly for the Convention Center for the final day of the competition where the stage will be filled with grand (20 or more) and line dances. The dancing, costumes and sets will be fab!  Saturday will be the icing on the cake with the “Battle of the Stars” where the best performances are given the opportunity to WOW us once again and we get to see the Power Pak team perform. Dancers from the competition audition for Power Pak and learn the routines in their “spare time” at free classes at the competition. Battle of the Stars starts at 10am so don’t be late if you want a good seat!
    Maryland’s own Gary Pate is the National Director of Starpower National Talent Competition. This is the 25th year for Ocean City hosting this event. Gary established the Starpower National Talent Competition in 1988 and has built this competition into one of the largest and most prestigious competitions in the U. S. Starpower has competitions in many other cities in the US and tours in London and other international sites. We are so fortunate to have this event in Ocean City each year in part because Gary is a native of our fair state and a University of Maryland graduate. I hope our renovations of the expanding convention center will allow for raised seating to better accommodate viewing from a large audience at the main stage (first floor this year) and that the stadium seating will be available for viewing the smaller adjacent stage.  My only major complaint over the years is it’s disappointing that you can’t see dancers’ feet or floor moves unless you stand at the sidelines.
    Grace Wakefield is the Co-director of Starpower.  She has a long and remarkable lifetime in the dance world and has choreographed many musicals including: Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, South Pacific, Wizard of Oz, Bye Bye Birdie, Oklahoma, Guys and Dolls, Fiorello, Wish You Were Here, My Fair Lady and many others.
    Each year I think I’ll just drop by for a little while and end up residing in the Convention Center the remainder of that day and the rest of the week. Starpower Dance Competition is so much more than a cute kids’ dance recital.  What I got was over 1000 incredible dance acts from about 40 dance troops with many troops performing at a level that would be appropriate for Broadway. Ocean City’s Sea Side Academy was not there this year as they just finished competing in Branson; I hope to see them back next year! Also absent this year was that adorable Maddie and the rest of the Abby Lee Dancers. I did meet oh so many delightful Dance Moms including marvelous acro dancer Sarah Fergison’s mom from South Carolina. I also had the misfortune of encountering the most in your face, rudest and obnoxious mom from New York sporting a “Dance Mom” T-shirt. The competing dance troops do a wonderful job training the dancers; they shouldn’t also have to teach manners to the parents.
    Attending the five-day competition is free but you will want to purchase a program book to follow along with the events. I keep my prior year programs and remember that one stated “Keep your tu-tu’s fastened, your dance shoes buckled and your seat in an upright position as we prepare to blast off to the most fabulous, fun and exciting competition you’ll ever attend.”  True to these words, it was obvious that these talented gals and guys spent lots of time at the barre; the turnouts, arabesques, jumps, spins chasses, leaps and plies were wonderful.
    If a dance troop gets its info in too late for publication, the dances are called with an A after the number or B if there is more than one addition to the category. I quickly noted Monday morning that all my favorite dances were not in the book and were from the same troop as I began recognizing the same extremely experienced and talented young dancers. I decided I must investigate and find out the names of some of the dancers. I had a chat with Luke, Lucy, Cami Spring and their Mom.  These three dancers had just completed a number titled Spring LLC which was performed to Billy Joel’s “Middle of the Night.” It was a tap number (not my favorite style) and was simply terrific and most adorable. Nine year old Luke and his teenage sisters just wowed us with their charm and charisma. At the end, sisters Cami and Lucy simultaneously kissed Luke on the cheek and lifted him by the upper arms to carry him off stage.  The dance company was Studio Bleu from Northern Virginia. This dance won second place and a $250 prize in the Power Category (top of three competing levels). Cami Spring won Dancer of the Year award last year with a $1,000 prize.
    There was just a little traditional ballet (called pointe now); I hope for a bit more toe dance next year.  Dang, I missed the first dance of the day and it was pointe. The only other pointe number was danced by Bella Tenglia and Chase O’Connell of Studio Bleu and entitled “Le Corsaire;” it was spectacular and placed 6th in the 15 to 19 Duet/Trio power category. Oh such grace and strength combined so beautifully in this ballet variation. Bella Tenaglia (turning 15 next month) also took part in the ballet trio entitled “Flying Without Wings” that won 1st place in the 12 – 14 duet/trio and $500 prize for Studio Bleu. Needless to say, this dance was just breathtakingly beautiful. Another spectacular award winning trio was “O Holy Night” danced by Kaeli Ware, Bella Hoffheins and Ashliane Shigley (also with Studio Bleu).
    I talked by phone tonight (Tuesday) with Studio Bleu Director, Kimberly Rishi. She and her dancers just returned from the Revolution Talent Competition (also founded by Gary Pate) in Virginia Beach today after winning the top 11 Power awards for ages 12 – 14 duo/trio and 6 out of 7 top Power placements in the 15 – 19 duet/trio category in O.C. yesterday. This certainly is a hard-working troop of dedicated and experienced teachers and dancers.  Kimberly told me that Kaeli Ware is fairly new to Studio Bleu and was the youngest ever to be accepted into American Dance at age 9. Kaeli was in six of the top ten scoring dances for her category. It will surely be a pleasure to watch her and her team mates mature and grow as dancers in the years to come. Kimberly Rishi told me that one of her teachers, Marinda Davis, is staying in O. C. the rest of the week to teach Power Pak performers (free classes at the competition available to all to audition). She choreographed a number titled “Silence” which the Power Pak Performers will dance on Saturday.
    There is one other contemporary duo dance I’d like to tell you about. It was performed by Justine Seymore and Mackenzie Manning and choreographed by Jena Stickel from The Next Jennaration. The music was Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and was quite a different version. The lyrics and melody were the same, but the tempo was slow, soft, most dreamlike and sung by sweet female voices. I asked the gals. who sang the piece and they thought it was Kelly Sweep. When I said “I wonder what Steven Tyler thinks of this version?” I just received a blank stare. I think we had a “Jennaration” gap! The number was danced beautifully and the soft pink costumes were so appropriate for the piece.
    Well my friends, that’s just some of the fantastic dancing which took place Monday.  Tuesday I watched the 13 – 14 year old Power solos and it was Krysties Dance Academy from Ohio who captured the top scores and Krystie had choreographed each winning number.  Krystie’s always does exceedingly well at Starpower. Perhaps Krysties dancers who arrived Tuesday and Bleu’s dancers who departed Monday evening will compete with one another next year. Wednesday I’m watching the 15 and over solos during the day and the Miss and Mr Teen competition at night.  It will be interesting to see if Kristie’s captures both Teen titles.
    I hope to see many of you at the final day of competition Friday and at the amazing Battle of the Stars Saturday. Dress warm and bring ear plugs as the convention center is chilly, the music is loud and the dancers and their parents support one another with hardy cheers. Such wonderful entertainment makes for great memories – thanks Starpower for providing Ocean City with yet another most exciting week of dance!
    I know where I’ll be July 21 to 26, 2013 – glued to a seat at the Convention Center for next year’s competition.  So if you too love dance, put next year’s date on your calendar and join me for a marvelous week of dance, dance, dance!  Can’t wait that long?  Check out for their full touring schedule.

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