Most seasoned dancers would agree that the best part of competing isn’t just the trophies—it’s the people you meet and the opportunities you discover. A fellow dance mom who’s run two successful studios herself, Encore DCS co-director Rhonda Marchant knows comp life like the back of her hand, which is why she treats every dancer, teacher and parent at an Encore event just like family.
“Coming from the south, we’re used to making everyone feel welcome,” Marchant shares. “We love catching up with all our students and teachers, some of whom have been attending Encore for over 20 years.” Fellow co-director Susan Barnes agrees: “We pride ourselves on going above and beyond for our customers, because we’re dance moms and teachers ourselves, and we know exactly what they go through.” For Marchant and Barnes, Encore’s supportive community makes celebrating its 25th-anniversary season that much more special.
Hospitality may be Encore’s core value, but it also excels in providing a wide array of opportunities for dancers. “We award scholarships to Broadway Dance Center and Discovery Spotlight,” Marchant explains. “We even turn our season promo video into a two-day professional shoot that gives dancers real-world industry experience.” One of Encore’s most cherished awards is a year-long Encore scholarship given to one tap dancer at Nationals each year in memory of its late co-founder Naomi Calvert.
A distinguished roster of judges is an essential part of every Encore experience. “We make it a priority to hire judges who are well-versed in all styles of dance, including tap,” Barnes shares. Indeed, Encore’s judging panels are carefully curated with industry professionals who are able to offer opportunities of their own. In the past, judges have handpicked Encore dancers for both the touring productions of Billy Elliot and A Christmas Story.
Educational opportunities are also within reach. “We’re excited to offer an affordable convention option at Nationals for dancers to train with our judges, so they can get to know and learn from the people who will be watching them all week,” Marchant says.
After Nationals, Encore will host conventions this fall in Columbia, SC, and Lancaster, PA, where dancers can train under renowned teachers and choreographers like Caroline Lewis-Jones, Trevor Sones and Erin Moore.
From a single event in Charleston, SC, in 1997, to now over 30 regional locations in 14 different states, Encore DCS is continuing to expand during its 25th season, with new regional events in Miami, FL, Chicago, IL and Branson, MO, plus its grandest Nationals yet. “We’re excited to host a gala at our Nationals where we can roll out the red carpet and celebrate all we’ve been through together,” Marchant says.
Cities are selling out fast, so head over to the Encore DCS website to register for one of its regional competitions or conventions.