Tahoe dancers strut stuff in national competition | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe dancers strut stuff in national competition

Isaac Brambila
Junior students, ages 9 to 11, rehearse in preparation of the Kids Artistic Review National competition in Las Vegas.
Isaac Brambila/Tahoe Daily Tribune |

ZEPHYR COVE — Since August, roughly 55 children and young adults at Forever Dance Lake Tahoe have been hard at work developing their dance numbers. That dedication is coming to a culmination as they compete in the Kids Artistic Review (KAR) national competition in Las Vegas this week.

Last week, just a few days before parting for the competition, two teams showcased their skills in detail-shaping rehearsal. The rehearsal was long, the room was hot and humid and the girls pushed the physical demands of acrobatic and artistic movement, and only acknowledged fatigue in between drills.

At the head of the groups, voicing advise and corrections as the girls pushed for perfection, were Joan Elias with the junior class and her son Dino Elias with the Senior girls.

Elias has owned the studio with Ellen and Andy Dauscher for about seven years and is assisted by several instructors who coach different classes. The dancers practice dance styles such as ballet, ballet pointe, jazz, tap, hip-hop, contemporary, jazz-funk, tumbling, lyrical and musical theater. Not every dancer who receives instruction at Forever Dance competes, but dozens do. This year, the competition team is made up of 50 girls and five boys.

The dancers range from the youngest at five years old to the oldest at 19. The dancer who has worked with Elias the longest has been with her 15 years.

The team parted with some expectation of success. Last year, at a different national competition, the studio brought home three first place finishes, eight second places and two third place winners. The studio also won the production dance competition, which involves most of the dancers that make the trip.

Leading up to nationals, Elias tries to deflect the pressure of outside competition but encourages her dancers to try their absolute best.

“If you get out there and you do your very, very best, and you’ve trained, and you’re focused, and you dance with your technique, and you dance with your brain … if there’s somebody at that competition that’s better than you and they come out on top, then that’s totally fine. There’s nothing we can do about it. We just come back and the kids work harder and they’re proud of themselves,” she said.

Elias said being prepared and training hard are fundamental in her studio, but it all comes down to the dancers being proud of their work.

“It’s more fun going and being proud of your dances. It’s not just where you place, what level trophy you win, it’s how the dancers and families are proud,” she added.

KAR will be made up of between 3,000 to 4,000 acts, Elias said. Forever Dance will be competing in petite (8 years old and younger), junior (between 9 and 11 years old), teen (between 12 and 14 years old) and senior (between 15 to 19 years old) levels.

The studio is bringing dancers who will compete in practically every dance style coached at the studio and will also compete in production dance, which, if Elias had to pick a favorite, that would be it.

“Our signature piece is our production,” Elias said.

This year’s production consists of a seven-to-eight-minute dance called “Off the Hook,” and tells a story of Peter Pan using the studio’s dance stylistics. It will include about 40 dancers. Forever Dance has won production in the last three nationals they’ve competed in.

Elias said the studio does not hold auditions for the production dance.

“If you want to put the work in, we’ll find a sport for you,” she said.

In the end, though, it’s about the passion she and her dancers have for the discipline.

“Owning a dance studio is a lot of work. Owning a dance studio and running a competition team is twice the work, but it’s all worth it because that’s what we all like to do. Dance is our passion,” Elias said.

“It’s a really, really hard profession, but if you like dance, it’s a really fun profession.”

Forever Dance will begin its summer session at the end of July. For more information about the studio or how to join call 775-588-5425 or visit its location in Zephyr Cove at 100 Mcfaul Way.

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