For a small town dance studio, Forever Dance Lake Tahoe dominates the stage.
The 5-year-old studio has been ranked among the top 50 dance studios in the country by the Federation of Dance Competitions for the last four seasons, while two of its numbers — a tap piece and a dance based on the cell block tango from “Chicago” — scored in the top 10 nationally this year.
“It’s very rare for a studio this size, but it’s what the kids put into it and it’s what we put into it,” co-owner Joan Elias said Friday.
The competition team, which includes dancers from 4 to 18 years old, dances in five competitions each year before traveling to the national championship stage. Those top performers will compete for the crown in Las Vegas this July.
The owners of Forever Dance opened the studio five years ago to keep the art in the basin. Another studio was closing its doors, and the women wanted to fill the void, Elias said. They didn’t expect the company to keep expanding into the valley.
Forever Dance opened a Carson City branch last season, again partly because another studio was shutting down. And then there were dancers all the way from Reno, Nev., who’d heard of the company’s national success and wanted to train with the award-winning team.
“Because our team is highly ranked, we have kids who were committing to drive,” Elias said.
Now Elias and her fellow co-owners are contemplating starting another studio in Reno. It would be a similar situation — one of the city’s studios plans to shut its doors — but the discussion is still in the early stages.
Members of the competition team will dance this weekend in Forever Dance’s United We Dance recital. The performances will showcase about 200 dancers from both studios in more than 50 dance numbers.
Not all the dancers in this weekend’s performance compete and only a handful of the competitors go on to become professionals, according to Forever Dance co-owner Ellen Dauscher.
“There are many levels of competition. We believe any dancer that wants the extra performance opportunities that competing offers should be able to be part of our team. We do not hand pick top dancers like most other teams do. We welcome everyone,” Dauscher said.