Giving their all

MARSHALL- A high standard of choreography, dedication and how much they support each other were the key pieces the dancers at Southwest School of Dance used at nationals this summer.

Students at the Southwest School of Dance competed at the Dance America national dance finals the first week of July in Orlando, Fla. The school brought 49 dances to the competition, and 40 of them had placed, said SWSD director Charlotte Wendel.

Dancers earned six first-place wins, 15 second places, 10 third places, five fourth places and four fifth-place finishes.

“I was very, very pleased with these kids,” Wendel said.

Wendel said this year’s national competition was bigger than ever, with more studios than she’s ever seen.

Wendel said she’s proud of how her dancers worked well together, the dedication they showed and how they were cheering each other on during performances.

“I really loved how well they supported each other,” Wendel said.

The dancers said nationals was quite the experience.

“I think there was a lot of good and tough competitors,” said Sophie Louwagie. “But I think we did well as a studio.”

“I thought it was more stressful than Chicago,” said Lexie Dulas, noting that nationals was in Chicago the previous year, and the dancers were used to that location. Plus, it’s pretty busy around the Fourth of July, the dancers added.

It was the first national competition for sisters Natalie and Abby Johnson.

“It’s pretty hectic, and it’s a long competition than all of them obviously,” Abby Johnson said. “I liked it a lot.”

“It was fun,” Natalie Johnson said, and she added that the competition was tough as well.

Abby Johnson said she liked having Orlando as the destination for this year’s nationals, having the beach nearby, and dancers getting the chance to dance at Disney.

In the national competition, Amylynn Thovson placed first in the senior solo modern division, which was a difficult division, Wendel said. First-place awards were won by intermediate production modern, intermediate line modern production ballet, large group musical theater and large group pointe.

A high score for the studio, Wendel noted, was “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” a large group musical theater piece. Another musical theater dance, “Stuff Like That There,” earned a second high score for SWSD.

Wendel said 17 girls competed in Dancer of the Year. Dulas decided to give it a shot this year.

“It was my first time trying it,” Dulas said about Dancer of the Year. “I put in a lot of work, but I had fun.”

Sophie Louwagie said that she liked the storyline of the group production for Dancer of the Year, and that the music was more jazzy.

Isabelle Tomoson was nominated for best costume, the one she wore for her solo performance. She said it was gray and sparkly, plus she got second place for her solo.

Even though the competition was for five days, the dancers said they hardly noticed.

“It goes by fast,” Dulas said.

“Surprisingly,” added Keelin Louwagie.

You’re going on adrenaline, Abby Johnson said. The competition culminated with a performance at Disney World, Wendel said, and “Stuff Like That There,” which is about the USO, was performed at the Disney show on July 7.

Tomoson said she was proud of how her solo went during competition, as well as placing second and getting nominated for best costume.

“I was proud of our studio, how we did to make our dances the best,” Abby Johnson said.