LAKE DELTON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Dells, a place for fun and entertainment, is the perfect setting for a dance competition. To be more precise, the Midwest Starz Nationals. From June 11 through June 15, hundreds of young dancers took part in the contest at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. So did Dance Express, a well known dance studio from Mankato.
Three of their teams, which included two girls from New Ulm, Elise Webb and Megan Olson, made it to the Grand Championship Finals. For the minis, teens and seniors, it was an unforgettable experience.
People who are not involved with dancing might have a hard time figuring out how such a competition works. Basically, all the dancers compete in different categories depending on age, group size and, of course, the dance style. The studios work on different routines all year long, so their groups can present them to judges. The best of the best then get to participate in the Grand Championship Finals.
The Orchestra Dance Express Company from Mankato performed at the Midwest Starz Nationals at the Kalahari Resorts in Wisconsin Dells. In front, from left, Elise Webb of New Ulm, Katie Roberts, Jacqueline Carroll, Jasmine Poupore, Lexi Tweeten, Gretta Goertzen. Middle row, from left, Macy Sisco, Jocie Lloyd, Bethany Rigdon, Tiara Coughlan, Marissa Starkey, Maddy Thompson, Mckenna VanDenTop. Back row, from left, Aneka Tweeten, Gretchen Olsen, Haley Warnke, Shelby Lloyd, Cassidy Wanderscheid, Sierra Sandeen, Karla Krmpotich, Lexi Wolf, Olivia Weisbecker.
As part of the Mankato Dance Express team, for 14-year-old Elise Webb from New Ulm this meant presenting seven routines over the course of three days. Jazz, hip hop, lyrical and tap were the styles presented.
Dance teachers and choreographers Jennifer James, Mitzi Roberts and Meredith Martin always kept an eye on the groups' precision, attitude and energy.
Josette Owens, Paul Sadler Jr., Sarah Grooms, Sarah Staker, Travis Onellion and Matthew Peacock were the six judges they had to convince with their dancing skills.
With "The Orchestra," a Jazz line routine, Webb and her 21 teammates made it to the finals in the Teen Starz category, after having received the judges' award for best precision, and a platinum as category winner during the preliminary competition. They took fourth place among 1,400 other dance routines.
The minis came in second place with their routine "Sassy." The seniors got fourth place for their performance on "Lady Marmalade."
Choreographer James was awarded "best choreography" for lyrical small group routine Samskyeti.
"It was a great experience for me and my teams and I am proud of how well they performed in the finals," James said.
The studio, owned by Mitzi Roberts, also won an award for "best sportsmanship" out of 60 dance studios, displaying the great bond and team spirit among the Dance Express dancers.