Volume 5 Week 27

Sunday, Dec. 14 9


Updated July 223

Updated Apr. 12

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Phil McNeely
Posted Feb. 12




(Posted 14/07/04)

Local dance school shines at ADA national championships
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Orléans dancer Kevin Howe poses with the trophy he won at the recent American Dance Awards National Championships in Orlando, Florida. Fred Sherwin/Photo

For a little tiny dance school in Orléans, Leeming Danceworks on Youville Drive is beginning to get a giant reputation for developing a group of highly talented, competitive dancers.

During the recent American Dance Awards National Championships in Orlando, Florida, a contingency of Danceworks students led by owner Sharon Leeming and choreographer Kim McMahon captured three top four placings including second overall in the 12 and under Dance Off class category and third overall in the 12 and under Dance Off class production competition.

Other results included a third place finish by Kevin Howe in the Teen Male Dancer of the Year category and a third place finish for Brendan Lee in the Young Male Dancer of the Year division.

Over the course of the eight day competition, the dancers performed 43 solo, duet and group routines, earning 19 Ultimate Gold scores (280-300 points), 16 Gold marks (270-279 points) and eight High Silver scores (255-269 points).

All in all it was an extremely successful trip for the dance school, and one the young dancers won't soon forget.

"When we decided last September to go to the competition as a group we said we would go in with our heads held high and do the best we could and see and learn from some of the best dancers in the world," explains Leeming. "We did so much better than I think anyone expected, the kids are all thrilled. They can hardly wait to get back into the studio and start training for next year."

Over 2,000 dancers took part in the ADA National Championships which were from June 30 to July 7. The competing dance schools were divided into three separate rooms dubbed Red, Blue and Green. The top five performances in each room advanced to the overall Dance Off finals.

Besides the Dance Off competition, several regional title holders from Leeming Danceworks also had to compete in the titles competition which made for a long week.

All told, Kevin Howe had to dance 15 solo and group numbers including the opening production number for the titles competition. It was during rehearsals for the production number that the 16-year-old developed a sore leg.

In the middle of the number he pulled a muscle and had to spend the next three hours stretching and trying to stay loose while 43 dancers in the Teen Female Dancer of the Year competition ran through their performances.

When the time finally came to show his stuff in the Teen Male Dancer of the Year competition, Howe dug deep and managed to impress the judges enough to be named second runner up out of 15 dancers.

"I couldn't jump as high or extend as much so I just ached it out and decided to have fun with it. About halfway through I saw the judges smiling and enjoying it so I guess they must have liked it," says Howe having returned to Ottawa with the rest of the Danceworks contingent earlier this week.

Jasmine and Brandon Lee pose with the trophies they picked up at the ADA National Championships in Orlando, Florida. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Nine-year-old Jasmine Lee also had to perform at less than 100 per cent. The youngster came down with a brutal cold the day before the competition began. Battling the sniffles, sinus congestion and a bad cough, the youngster still managed to land the top score in the Red Room in the solo competition among nine- and 10-year-olds and the top score in the duet/trio category with partner Olivier Roy.

On top of that she also took part in the Bugle Call number which captured the High Score in the Red Room and went on to finish second overall; she was in the Disney Magic production that finished third overall and she finished in the Top 10 in the Young Dancer of the Year title competition.

Not to be outdone, Jasmine's younger brother Brendan was awarded the High Score in the male age 8 and under solo category and was a member of the squads that captured the High Score in the Red Room for large group age 8 and under, small group age 8 and under and the Bugle Call and Disney Magic productions.

To top it all off the seven year old also finished third out of five dancers in the Young Male Dancer of the Year title competition.

Regional title holders Vanessa Roby and Isabelle Proulx were in tough in the Teen Dancer of the Year competition which boasted 43 title holders from across the U.S. and Canada. Both failed to crack the Top 10 although they danced well.

Howe and the rest of the Leeming Danceworks team are already looking forward to next year's competition. Rubbing shoulders with some of the top dancers in the world including Senior Male Dancer of the Year Scott MacDonald from Toronto, has provided them with no end of inspiration.

Howe is already doing extra push ups and plans to hit the weights all in an effort to increase his overall strength.

"Hopefully, I'll gain some strength and come back and do even better next year," says Howe who'll be stepping up in class in 2005.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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