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So You Think You Can Dance judges give local girls winning marks


Dancers Michaela Stiles (left), Jenna Szeto, Jaya Szeto and Corina Stiles, of the Atlantic Dance Academy, earned first place in Wolfville, N.S. from the So You Think You Can Dance judges and will travel to Vancouver on June 29, to compete at the Dance World Cup.

AMHERST - The Atlantic Dance Academy will hit the world stage when four of the Amherst-based dance academy's dancers travel to Vancouver to compete from June 29 to July 4 at the Dance World Cup.

The four girls, two from Amherst and two from Moncton, earned the right to compete at the Dance World Cup after winning first place at the recent 5,6,7,8, Maritime Dance Championships held in Wolfville.

Judges from the TV show, 'So You Think You Can Dance', judged the girls in Wolfville and will judge them again when they hit the stage in Vancouver.

"It's the biggest award we've won, so it feels great," said 16-year-old Jenna Szeto.

The girls won the competition in their category after performing the 'gypsy' dance.

The other three in the gypsy dance are 15-year old Jaya Szeto, and sisters Corina and Michaela Stiles of Moncton. Corina is 16, and Michaela, who will attend dance school this summer at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, is 12.

Upon entering the competition, Maritime Dance Academy instructor Dina Leisch wasn't sure how the girls would do.

"They finished first place in their category," Leisch said. "It's amazing. I was absolutely not expecting it."

She said the girls are mature, "but they're not mature enough. They did the best they could but there's still room for improvement."

The girls began practicing the gypsy dance in March and have another month to perfect their routine before the World Cup.

"The gypsy dance is emotionally very rich," Leisch said. "It's a stage dance and I wanted them to try it because it has to be emotionally and intellectually rich.

"They performed it very well and they had amazing results but they can do better," she added. "I'm very proud of them and I'm sure they're going to show the best job of all the participants."

The Szeto girls' mom, Sandy, is also very proud of all the girls.

"They've been dancing since they were so young and I know it's something they worked so hard for," she said. "This is a dream come true for those girls.

"Every time I talk about it I get goose bumps," she added. "We're very, very honoured that Jenna and Jaya and the two girls from Moncton came in first place. They all worked so hard together."

And she's also very pleased with the girl's instructor.

"Dina is such an amazing lady and an amazing instructor," she said.

Leisch, who graduated from the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow and was a professional ballerina for many years, will travel with the girls to Vancouver.

The trip costs a lot of money and the girls said any donations to help them would be greatly appreciated. Donations can be brought to the Atlantic Dance Academy at 106 Church Street in Amherst.


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