Members of a local dance studio will be showing their moves at an international event.
Create 308 Dance Academy is sending 11 dancers to Dance Excellence in Los Angeles. They will be among more than 15,000 dancers from 30 countries at the festival.
The studio is the only one from Nebraska chosen to attend.
“It’s a huge honor to represent the state,” said Kathryn McCarty, who is a dance director at Create 308 with her husband, Ryan.
The group will take off for the six-day event on Sunday and have a slate full of learning opportunities during their time in California, including performing at Disneyland.
McCarty, who attended the event as a dancer 25 years ago, said she reached out to the director of Dance Excellence to see if there was a possibility for her dancers to attend because she loves what the event stands for.
They found out their studio was selected about a year ago. The invitation to go was offered to dancers in the company who were 10 or older. Eleven signed up and they have been fundraising ever since to cover travel expenses to Los Angeles.
McCarty said Dance Excellence is a dance festival, not a competition. While there, students take three days of classes learning dance styles like jazz, hip hop, ballet, musical theater and African. They also will interact with and watch dancers from other parts of the world.
“There is a performance day where every state and country gets to perform for each other,” McCarty said.
That experience is unlike anything she said her dancers can usually get.
“I hope that just seeing what’s out there, especially internationally and seeing different cultures and different dance styles, is a big eye opener,” she said.
Lillee Olsen, 11, said what she is most looking forward to at the event is trying out different dances.
“I’m excited to learn African dance. They have drums and do some funky things with their legs,” she said.
Two dancers from Create 308, Ellie Alberts, 15, and Emery Obermiller, 14, have been to Dance Excellence before through another studio.
The environment there is unlike other dance events.
“You feel a lot more open to the idea of letting yourself go,” Alberts said.
Obermiller said it’s not as competitive and everyone’s there to have fun.
During the Disneyland performance, each state and country will have their own time to showcase routines. The local dancers have five dances they will be performing. They have been practicing them for months.
Their time in California closes out with an awards gala. During that time, a few select students will take part in an international performance. Alberts and Aubree Moritz, 15, have been chosen as the two representing Create 308.
“I’m really excited to be able to put on a show with other dancers,” Moritz said.
All the students attending will accumulate about 30 hours’ worth of dancing during the week. Those taking part in the gala performance will put in even more time.
Other dancers from Create 308 attending include Madeline Tompkins, 13; Cutler Obermiller, 11; Kashiah Dandridge, 10; Amarae Krafka, 11; Jocelyn Prado, 12; Lexi Long, 17; and Aizlynn Krafka, 13.