Just Dance Bahamas shows up and shows out
Just Dance Bahamas’ (JDB) Junior and Senior Dance Companies dominated across the board in their performances at the recent Starquest World Dance Championships. No dancer left the competition without hardware.
At the six-day competition held at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace, Charlotte Nevins, 18, jazz; Christa Russell, 16, lyrical and tap; and Caroline Knowles, 18, open and tap, competed in the Classic division as well as for the title of “Miss Starquest Emerging Artist”. They received Platinum, the highest level for their routines. Nevins’ solo placed sixth overall and Russell’s lyrical solo placed second overall, also winning a judge’s special award, “Beautifully in Control” for the same lyrical routine.
Russell took the title of “Miss Starquest Emerging Artist”; Nevins was second runner-up.
Nevins and Russell comprised the contemporary duet “Saturn”; and Nevins, Russell and Knowles, the tap trio for routines that were highly regarded by the judges who asked them to be moved to the Select division, the highest division, for the opportunity to perform again in the “Quest for the Best” competition. Both routines won the top, Platinum Plus medal in their respective categories, the duo winning first and the trio second place for best costume. Due to the fact that in the Select division there is no specific winner announced, they were both given top-five placements. The trio placed first; the duet just behind in second.
JDB’s Junior Company soloists also showed out.
Isabella Lightbourn, 11, earned a platinum medal, second place overall jazz solo, second runner-up for Junior Miss Starquest Emerging Artist and fifth place overall junior solo with her “Queen Bee” jazz routine.
Morgan Sands, 11, earned a platinum medal, first place overall jazz solo, placed first runner-up for the Junior Miss Starquest Emerging Artist and fourth place overall in the junior solo for her “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” jazz routine.
Sofia Reid, 11, performed an acrobatic routine to “Send In The Clowns” for which she earned a platinum medal, a judge’s special award and placed first overall in the junior solo.
Senior Company soloists Stemarciae Bain, 14; Carlotta Casu, 13; and Alycia Albury, 14, took to the stage in the Classic Teen Solo division, with Bain laying down the gauntlet with her jazz routine to “Survivor”.
Bain was awarded the title of “Teen Miss Starquest Emerging Artist” and a platinum medal, as well as first place overall teen solo.
Casu was the epitome of elegance in her lyrical routine to “California Dreaming” – her solo placed 12th overall with a platinum medal.
Albury’s solo lyrical “Going Going Gone” placed third overall with a platinum medal as well as a first runner-up to Bain for “Teen Miss Starquest Emerging Artist”.
The Junior Company performed three group routines for the judges in the Large Group Classic division. They came out of the gate with their hip-hop routine “Dem Beats”, followed by their tap routine “Rock This Town”, and ended with the exciting jazz “Ain’t Nothin Wrong With That”.
The tap routine earned a high gold medal and eighth place overall for junior large group. The hip-hop and jazz routines earned platinum medals, with the hip-hop routine placing fourth overall and jazz earning first place overall in the Junior Large Group division with a nod for best costume. The jazz routine was also selected to perform in the “Classic Dance Off” as one of the highest-scoring routines of the competition. The hip-hop routine, “Dem Beats”, won one of three Odyssey Awards by which the judges choose what they feel were the three most entertaining routines of the competition.
The Senior Company group routines were a display of hard work, dedication and perseverance needed to succeed in dance. Their first routine showcased the complicated contemporary piece “Redemption” featuring Russell. Approximately one minute into the routine, during a difficult acrobatic movement, her left knee popped out and she buckled to the floor and had to be taken to the hospital. While she suffered no lasting damage, she was unable to continue in the competition. The other dancers were able to rework their routines and continue the performances.
All five dances (jazz, tap, hip-hop, lyrical and the unfinished contemporary) were awarded platinum medals. The studio was given a special judge’s award for being “Completely Committed”, for trying to continue the dance even with an injury.
In the final rankings in the Classic Senior Small Group Category, hip-hop placed first overall, contemporary second, tap third and the jazz routine fourth.
Even with Russell’s injury during “Redemption” the routine was still in first place, but teacher and choreographer Nonny Price had to decide if Russell would be able to perform the routine in the Classic Dance Off. She wasn’t, and as the featured dancer in the routine, could not be replaced. Therefore, the routine was moved into second place, putting the hip-hop routine into the Classic Dance Off. The lyrical routine was in a lower age category (Classic Teen Small Group) due to a younger group member and it, too, placed first overall. Both the lyrical and the hip-hop were selected to return the following day to perform in the “Classic Dance Off” as two of the highest-scoring routines of the competition.
Both the Junior and Senior Companies dedicated their performances to their injured teammate during the Classic Dance. They had high energy in the jazz and hip-hop and strong emotional expression in the lyrical. The Junior Company won their category (Top Junior Small Group), as well as the Senior Company in the hip-hop number (Top Senior Small Group). The lyrical dance placed second in the Teen Small Group category.
With Russell sidelined, there was a question as to what would happen to the duet and trio competing in the “Quest for the Best” in the Select division. Price was not about to let the routines drop out of the competition. She turned the tap trio into a duet with Nevins and Knowles; Albury stepped in to learn Russell’s part in the duet in less than 16 hours before competition time to perform with Nevins.
The duo placed fourth overall, and the tap duo placed second overall.
JDB dancers were recognized for their efforts outside of the competition floor as well. In between competing, they were able to take master classes. Junior Company members Aubrie Smith and Kaillin Hanna, and Senior Company member Russell all were awarded by the teachers for their focus and discipline, and Russell also was one of three dancers given the “Competition Kindness” Award for her passion and attitude towards the other dancers from all of the studios throughout the week.
The Senior Company dancers also took part in an audition for AMDA College of the Performing Arts, considered one of America’s premier colleges for performing arts.
Bain was awarded a scholarship for a two-week summer conservatory. Nevins was awarded a $40,000 scholarship for entrance in the fall to their four-year college degree program. She was already enrolled in the BFA program at Point Park University where Price earned her degree in dance. Nevins plans to major in dance.
The studio itself was also given special recognition with Price receiving a “Studio Superlative Award” for excellence in having “well-rounded” dancers. JDB normally competes in the Classic division not because they aren’t at the highest technical level, but because they are not able to attend more than one competition yearly. The Select division is usually comprised of studios who attend competitions nearly every weekend during the competition season. The Nova division is for beginners who have not been dancing for very long and are not technically at the same level.