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Small Town Studio: National Success
Powerhouse dancer Kelly Colbert competed in the National and Regional competitions prior to having foot surgery. - photo by Contributed

Dancers from a small dance studio, Powerhouse in Escalon, have made their way to the Nationals in Southern California and with two dance groups, proved that they have what it takes to win championships.

Andreane Mercier, studio owner and head instructor, has had a passion for dance since she was a very young girl.

The studio has been open over a year now under her direction and Mercier has had a competition team for two years.

The Powerhouse team includes Elizabeth Hallack, studio manager and instructor and Andrea Troglione, tumbling and ballet instructor.

The Powerhouse dancers competed in the Spotlight Dance Cup West Coast National Finals from Monday, July 7 through Sunday, July 13 in Los Angeles.

In April, the dancers competed in a Regional competition in San Jose, and they did so well in that competition that the instructors decided to go to Nationals in Southern California.

There are two rounds of competition and the dancers compete in the first round and either go home or move on to the second round. The Powerhouse dancers moved on in the competition.

“A small team of eight from a very small town ended up going to this huge competition where the best of the best compete,” said Mercier. “And we ended up qualifying two of our dances to be in the nationals in the last round.”

Since the Powerhouse studio has only been around a relatively short time, they are in the Novice level which is a beginning level. Being in the Novice level only two dance groups could compete which were “A Lil Party” and “He Lives In You.”

“A Lil Party” dance group consisted of eight students between the ages of 8 years old to 18 years old and was in the Jazz category with a ‘Roaring 20s’ themed dance inspired from the movie The Great Gatsby.

The eight person dance group included Courtney Furtado, Kennedy Cunningham, Rylie Lattig, Madison Bavaro, Stephen Percey, Matty Bolten, Grace Ferreira, and Kelly Colbert.

The group received top 5 and was asked to re-compete for the Grand Championship, they received Best Showmanship Award, a Diamond ranking and third place out of 35 dances.

In the first round “A Lil Party” competed against approximately 50 other dances and continued on to the second round.

The other dance group was “He Lives In You” that included six students ages 12 and up and they received first place overall. They also received top 2 and were asked to compete again for the Grand Championships.

“He Lives In You” was a contemporary ethnic African dance from the musical Lion King and they received a Diamond ranking and placed first out of 15 dances.

This dance number consisted of six students, Courtney Furtado, Madison Bavaro, Kennedy Cunningham, Matty Bolten, Grace Ferreira, and Kelly Colbert.

The group received the Director’s Choice award which is selected by the CEO of the competition and given to only one group that stands out from that day’s competition.

Colbert had to have foot surgery after the competition and was dealing with pain throughout the entire season.

“She did this with us and she was fantastic and she is recovering really well,” stated Mercier. “We wouldn’t have been able to come up with this choreography if she wasn’t in it so it’s been a really good process for all of them.”

The dancers trained for the competition, practicing 10 hours a week which included the dance class plus the dance numbers.

“He Lives In You” was choreographed by Hallack and the students would meet every Tuesday night to practice.

“A Lil Party” was a combined effort from Hallack and Mercier and the students would practice that number on Friday.

Mercier expressed how the studio would not have gotten this far without the help of Hallack and Troglione.

“Andrea (Troglione) just joined us last year so she got a solo with one of our teenagers, Courtney Furtado,” stated Mercier. “She helps us tremendously with all of our tumbling tricks and getting our girls in shape.”

During the week of Nationals the entire team received master classes from dance professionals.

Hallack had to take the group to Nationals on her own for the first time as an instructor because Mercier had other dancers performing for the community at Park Fete. As soon as Park Fete was over Mercier drove down to catch the final day of the competitions.

“It was a learning experience on my own at the National competition,” expressed Hallack. “There was a lot I learned, it was a great experience in the end.”

There were several different studios that attended the competitions that came from different places including Oakdale, Fresno, Lake Tahoe, Sacramento, and many other areas.

Several of the studios compete with a large number of students and Hallack explained that they were one of the smallest studios there.

Hallack added that several other teachers approached her and asked where Powerhouse studio was, with an impressive showing from the small studio of an estimated 150 total students.

“They were in awe of how good our studio is already and how we may be small but for the amount of years that we have been open it has actually been a really good success,” stated Hallack.

“We have a Western National Championship team; that is a pat on the back for all three of us,” stated Mercier.

Powerhouse Dance Studio will be holding auditions on July 31 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for another competition.

For more information, call 209-456-3581. Powerhouse Dance Studio is at 1405 First St., Escalon.