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Local dance team wins top national prize

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erforming Arts Constellation Company members, a group at Shooting Stars Dance Studio that does extra performing and competing, celebrates their recent national dance championship. Shown here are (back row, from left) Megan Witte, Nora Wagner, Delaney Charon, Hannah Johnson and studio owner Suzy Goodin and (front row, from left) Patrice Eakman, Leah Westmoreland, Lexie Liimatainen and Payten Schneberger. Also part of the qualifying routine (but unable to attend finals) was Alexa Lee. Contributed Photo 2 / 2

The Taurus Tap Performing Arts Constellation Company (PACC) team from Shooting Stars Dance in Cloquet recently won the national championship with their tap routine to “Step in Time.” In order to qualify to attend Nationals, the dancers had to compete at Regionals and receive a platinum/diamond adjudicated award, place in the overall high score awards or receive another equivalent award.

This year Shooting Stars had six team routines and eight solo/duo routines qualify for Nationals, which were held at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center.

Practices started the Monday after the studio’s spring recital, with competitors putting in eight hours of practice per team routine throughout the two weeks up until Nationals and four hours of practice per solo/duo. During those practices the dancers drilled the choreography and timing and made any necessary changes based on the judges’ suggestions received throughout the regional season.

The first six days of the national competition, the dancers performed their routines and were judged and given a score. They receive an adjudicated placing based on their score and also became eligible for overall awards and judges’ choice awards.

During the preliminary competition, “Step in Time” received Second Overall High Score.

In order to make it to the finals, the group needed to be one of the top four highest-scoring routines out of the entire recreational division, regardless of age, group size or dance style.

“Imagine our surprise when they announced Step in Time as one of the finals routines!” said Shooting Stars owner Suzy Goodin. “The announcement wasn’t made until about  9:30 p.m. on Wednesday night and we had to be back in Burnsville ready to perform on Thursday afternoon. To make it even more stressful, one of our dancers could not attend and, although we had another dancer who knew the routine, she had not practiced the changes we had made specifically for Nationals.”

After a nearly sleepless night the team headed back to Burnsville and had about three to four hours to use for practicing and listening to their preliminary critiques before they had to perform.

Only the top four highest scoring routines in the recreational division were invited to finals, so the group was up against three other routines. For finals, the judges did not score the routines, they simply watch the four routines and then chose one as a winner. After the judges made their decision, all four groups were invited to stand on stage and the winner was announced by playing their music and a video clip of their routine up on the big screen.

“What an amazing moment when that music played and everyone realized it was Step in Time!” said Goodin. “We were presented with a trophy that is five-and-a-half feet tall! It was an incredible moment for everyone.”