Attending the New York City Dance Alliance Junior Gala this week as a dance publication editor, I felt a little like Anna Wintour at Fashion Week. Our seats were in the very front row, right behind the judges, and the parade of finalists for National Outstanding Mini and Junior Dancer took place practically an arm’s distance away.
It was such a fun evening! NYCDA always puts on a flashy show that gives young dancers a taste for the New York entertainment experience. Though I watch all the performers with great interest, what I’m really doing is taking notes on the studios where they train. This year I was particularly impressed with Dance Town Dance Studio of Doral, FL, directed by Manuel and Lory Castro. Their team took the Critics’ Choice for both the Mini’s and Juniors categories. The Juniors group salsa number, The Beat, had everyone talking afterward—the dancers were polished beyond their years. As Joe Lanteri of NYCDA said from the stage, “Remember these dancers are only 12 and 13 years old!”
This year’s National Outstanding Dancer award winners came from DanceTown; Tempe Dance Academy (directed by Wanda Manville) in Tempe, AZ; Westchester Academy (directed by Kelly Burke-Fitzpatrick) in Mt. Kisco, NY; and CC& Co. Dance Complex (directed by Christy Curtis) in Raleigh, NC.