Giving it their all

MARSHALL – Even with fewer rehearsals than usual, the Southwest School of Dance pulled away with a good showing at a recent competition.

The Minneapolis Dance Olympus regional competition was Feb. 22-24. The SWSD received 16 first-place wins, nine second-place awards and one third-place finish.

Dancer of the Year went to Emma Thordson, Amylynn Thovson, Michaella McKenzie, Sydney Matthys and Isaac Marks.

It was the first time McKenzie earned Dancer of the Year.

“On stage, I was just crying, I was so happy,” McKenzie said. Her musical theater solo “I Speak Six Languages” also got her first place.

McKenzie said she was part of a large group musical theater production dance “The Italian” a few years ago.

“I was one of the main people, and Mrs. Wendel discovered I could show my emotions well on stage,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said she was overjoyed to receive Dancer of the Year.

“I was super-happy because I’m not the ideal image of a dancer. So it made me very happy you don’t have to be a specific person or body type to be Dancer of the Year,” McKenzie said.

Competing in Minneapolis was a little different than at Omaha a few months ago, dancers said. Now that they had a little more experience and knew what was going on, it went more smoothly, said Alexis Baynard,

“Less overwhelming,” added Lexie Dulas.

Because of inclement weather and other factors, the dancers had less time to rehearse their competition pieces, Emma Matthys said.

“For such a little time we had to learn the dances, they were pretty together and well done,” added Sophie Louwagie.

Elizabeth Louwagie said their director, Charlotte Wendel, had to cut some of the dances short because they only had so much rehearsal time.

“Considering the little amount of time we had, we did better than expected,” Rhyana Juutilainen said.

“We pulled it off pretty well,” Lauren Noriega said. She said they only had three rehearsals to learn the production dances.

“We did better on some of the dances than I thought we did,” Megan Kock said.

One of those first-place wins was “Varsity Drag,” a jazz piece, said Keelin Louwagie.

Sophie Louwagie noted that the costumes and props for the dances were really great for this competition. One large production dance, “Containment,” involved 24 dancers in unusual costumes. Twenty were dressed in all black outfits where you could only see their face, while four portrayed security guards. McKenzie said those dressed in black where sludge material, and the security guards were trying to contain them from getting out into society.

“It took a lot of acting,” Dulas said.

“It’s a new facial for us to do,” McKenzie said.

“It was cool,” said Isabelle Tomoson.

Baynard and Dulas said the studio doesn’t do too many tap performances at competition, but it brought “Taking Care of Business” to Minneapolis, which took third.

“We tapped on boxes,” Baynard said. “We qualified for nationals.”

Special awards include:

High score: Male solo – third runner up, Isaac Marks

Large group – first runner up, Madame Guillotine

Line – second runner up, Mobassa

Production – second runner up, Muzurkah

Best choreography: Junior small group modern – Bugs