By: Spencer Seymour
Youth in St. Marys continue to leave their mark on major sports and competitions as three young residents will be heading to Kissimmee, Florida for a national dance competition.
Matteo Graham, Eden Robson, and Kylie Rudy will be representing St. Marys during the week of July 3 in Florida at the Showstopper National Southern Finals after qualifying at the Regionals competition in Battle Creek, Michigan in March. Residents likely will be able to watch the competition live online at ‘goshowstopper.com’.
Graham, 13, has danced for four years, two of which have been at a competitive level. He is in his first year with the Elite Dance Centre in Woodstock where he trains in all genres but competes in jazz and hip hop. Graham talked about enjoying dance because of “how fun and exhilarating it is.” He also noted that he has aspirations of becoming an actor and that dancing allows him to show his emotions which is important to be a successful actor. When asked what he thought St. Marys should know about competitive dance, he said that it has a mental difficulty that some other sports may not require. Not only do you have to be fit and able to pull off the moves, but you also have to be able to memorize your entire routine, whereas, in other sports, you don’t have to memorize an entire routine as much as you just need to bring your skill.
Robson, 11, is the longest tenured dancer in the group, having been dancing since the age of four. She began competing just one year later when she was five-years-old and has done so for the last six years. She studies in all styles of dance, including primarily ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, hip hop, and acro/tumbling. Robson fell in love with competitive dance from watching her sister on stage and wanted to mimic what she saw. She became enamoured with the opportunity afforded by competitive dance to connect and tell stories. She finds that dance is an amazing way to express yourself in a “really fun, challenging and creative way.” She also emphasized how big of a platform Nationals are but that everyone is excited for the challenge that stands in front of them.
Rudy, 10, is the youngest of the local contingent heading to Florida, and she also expressed similar sentiments about competitive dance that her two older counterparts did. For Rudy, dance is an outlet to express her emotions and feel better in general. Rudy doesn’t have a favourite style of dance but rather enjoys different styles for different reasons. “I like tap as it challenges me, jazz is more fun and fast-paced, and hip hop because they are fun routines and I enjoy working as [part of a] team.” Additionally, she really likes to see the journey of getting a routine for the first time and progressing until it’s being performed on stage from beginning to end. She is also excited for the experience of going to Florida, a destination to which she has never been. She says it has been made into a full family trip around the competition.
The competition is slated to run from July 3 through July 7, however, the competition website notes that the dates are subject to change if a situation may require such amendments.