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Dancers embrace competition and teamwork

Participants in the Park District’s Dance Academy enjoy the collaborative and friendly spirit of the program, from beginning ballet classes to membership in Élan Dance Company, the audition-only performance group.

Élan Dance Company performing at the Carillon, August 2017

When the Academy introduced a first-ever competition dance class in 2014 for ages 9-11, students jumped at the chance to compete—not against each other, but as a team against other teams in the region. These young dancers have won ribbons in their age category for the past 3 years and are looking forward to another round of contests in February and March 2018.

2016-17 Competition Dance Team

New for the 2017-18 season, the Dance Academy launched a level two competition dance class for ages 12-14. The five participants in this class are experienced dancers who also are taking a higher level jazz class. Four are high school freshmen and one is a fifth grader. All are eager to compete and are working hard to perfect their jazz routine for the Des Plaines Dance Idol Competition February 2-4 and the Cathy Roe Ultimate Dance Competition at Oswego High School March 2-4.

Level II Competition Dance Team (L to R):  Sarah, MJ, Izzy, Eleanor, Delaney

At a recent rehearsal, the team ran through their dance, which they will perform for both competitions.

The girls explained that in addition to practicing elements of the choreography, they prepare for the competition by focusing on their facial expression, which the judges will be evaluating. Some of the challenges of preparing for competition include staying together, timing, developing stamina and dealing with absences.

These busy high school students are making time for competition dance mostly because it’s fun. “We like this program and our teacher, and are excited for our first opportunity to compete,” they said.

Upcoming Dance Academy Classes

Winter 2018 programs begin in early January.

Recital dance classes meet from January to May, with a performance at the annual recital in May. Examples of recital classes include Ballet, Hip Hop/Jazz Fusion, Storybook Ballet and more.

Prefer a shorter class just for winter?  Seasonal dance classes meet during the winter season and do not include a recital. Examples include Adult Beginning Ballet, Ballet Basics for young children, TumbleDance, and more.

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