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Dance company earns top awards, will host showcase Sunday

March 23, 2012

Photo submitted – Shown are members of the April School of Dance's Dynamic Dance Competition Company. The company has enjoyed a successful competition season, bringing home top prizes in a number of categories. DDCC is under the direction of Jennifer Blankenship of Kane.

ST. MARYS – From silver tap-dancing aliens to dancers perched atop a six-foot wall, such unique routines have consistently ranked among the judges' favorites during this year's competition season of the Dynamic Dance Competition Company, an 18-member troop from April School of Dance in St. Marys.
The group, overseen by artistic director Jennifer Blankenship of Kane, recently concluded their season, during which they brought home a myriad of top-place trophies.
The public is invited to attend the company's showcase on Sunday afternoon at the Elk County Catholic High School auditorium. Admission is free of charge, and beginning at 2 p.m. the audience can view the group's 15 performance pieces.
Among the performances is the group's top-rated "Big White Room" contemporary piece.
"I was really excited to choreograph this dance," Blankenship said. "It's my favorite and I think it's one of our highest-scoring every time we go somewhere. Everyone really likes it."
The featured dancers in the number are from DDCC's Company A, which consists of dancers Claire Grazioli, Sophie Herzing, Maddie O'Leary, Kristen Dippold, Bry Harvey, Madison Yankovich and Abbie Lampman, all of whom are in grades 10-12.
According to Blankenship, the first time she heard the song "Big White Room," she loved it and knew she wanted to use it in a dance. While researching the meaning of the song, Blankenship said it was about the singer being in the hospital when she was young and facing the loss of the child she shared a room with, leaving her by herself in a big white room and the emotion that went along with that.
She added that the song's live version which the group performs to has added an extra dimension to the routine. In the middle of the song is an applause break which she debated taking out, but chose to keep in after some thought.
"At the first competition, the judges were ecstatic. They loved the applause because the dancers finish the first part of the dance and when the applause happens, they act like they're going to leave the stage, but then they come back when she starts singing again," Blankenship said.
The piece portrays each dancer dressed in different white costumes using white chairs as props, each of which have a different design that allows for a sense of individuality in the routine. The only similarity in the piece are the dancers' matching headbands.
Company A also performs "Tightrope," a high-energy jazz routine.
DDCC's Company B includes eighth and ninth grade students Kaitlin Quinn, Kaitlin Yankovich, Jensine Coudriet, Elle McGowan, Nicole Holland and Rachel Keller.
This group performs a contemporary number called "Mad World" along with a jazz routine, "Mama Knows Best."
"The dancers have an intense look on their face like they are scared out of their minds, but are brave enough to conquer. They've done really well with it," said Blankenship of the "Mad World" piece.
She described the "Mama Knows Best" routine as a "Big Band soulful number with the essence of a musical theatre piece." The basis behind the song is how a mother knows how to pick up her child when he or she is feeling down.
"It's not a fast-paced routine, but it's difficult," Blankenship said.
Company C, consisting of Alley Geer, Kara Reiter, Nirriann Meyer, Abigail Mosier and Abbi Johnson, appeals to the audience's humorous side with their jazz piece from "Little Shop of Horrors," "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space," and the "Gitchee Gitchee Goo" tap number, a tribute to the animated show "Phineas and Ferb."
"I heard 'Gitchee Gitchee Goo' and I thought, 'This is it, it's fun and short and people will love it,'" Blankenship said. "The judges love that dance. It's been the company's top scoring out of the two."
During each of the two numbers, the dancers are dressed in lime green costumes, adding to the whimsy of the performance.
Blankenship also choreographed a tap piece entitled "Spaceship" in which the Company A and B dancers are dressed as silver aliens. This piece has garnered accolades from numerous judges.

Pick up a copy of the Saturday, March 24, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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