Fancy footwork captures King's Dominion trophies

April 01, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Fancy stepping led to first-place trophies for two county dance groups that competed in the Dance Festival last weekend at Paramount's King's Dominion.

Footnotes, a new traveling troupe from Hampstead's Rhythm in Shoes Company, and students from Dance Express Studio in Eldersburg kicked up high scores in the competition, which began six years ago at the Virginia amusement park.

About 800 dancers from Maryland and Virginia compete in the two-day festival.

Although the 9- to 11-year-old junior girls' and 12- to 15-year-old senior Footnotes were newcomers to the annual competition, both divisions brought home superior ratings.

"After only 12 weeks of practice, all we wanted was the experience," said Kelly Cochran, owner and instructor at Rhythm in Shoes. "We had difficult numbers, and none of us expected to take first place."

Ms. Cochran said she gave her students a pep talk and encouraged them to have a good time while performing.

Junior dancers tapped out moves to "Great Balls of Fire" and earned 134 points out of a possible 150. Judges said they were impressed with the 9- to 11-year-old girls' unique series of steps.

"They selected music to wake up the audience," said Ms. Cochran. "They sure did. They danced like a group I had never seen before."

The senior dancers scored 141 points for a jazzy rendition of "High School Confidential." Dressed in hot-pink unitards, black jackets and sequined saddle shoes, the girls competed against older, more experienced dancers and earned "perfect" scores in showmanship and overall performance.

They also received compliments for their costumes, pieces of which had arrived in Hampstead only the day before the competition.

"We hand-painted their tap shoes to make them look like saddles and sewed rhinestones into their socks," said Ms. Cochran.

Students from Dance Express were also an "overall winning group" in the competition. The Terriettes, 6- to-9-year-olds, won recognition for intricate choreography for their "Hey, Good Lookin' " routine. Other Dance Express winners included the two 10- to 14-year-old groups for a Hawaiian routine and "Twilight Zone."

The event is open to any dance studio, said Angie Sizer, marketing representative for King's Dominion. Competitors prepare a three-minute dance, and judges score the performances in various categories.

"We encourage all the groups to join in the festive atmosphere," said Ms. Sizer. "This is not a rigid competition. We want fun, not nervousness."

Holland England, whose wife, Terrie England, instructs Dance Express students, said the group has participated in the competition for several years.

"This is not cut-throat," he said. "Groups cheer each other on."

Ms. Cochran called dancing great exercise and a challenge.

"With the right attitude, it can be a really positive experience," she said.

Her dancers have really caught the competition bug, she said. They are planning a trip to a New York contest this spring.

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