The Next Jennaration, a local dance school of students 5-19 years old from Ithaca and Lansing, competed at the Starpower National Championships on July 13 in Ocean City, Maryland, taking home five national team titles as well as multiple individual honors.
The Next Jennaration performed a total of 35 dance routines at the competition. Five of those routines, which were titled “Beyonce,” “JLO,” “Seasons,” “Sound of Hate” and “Lip Gloss,” won national titles. These award-winning routines, along with nine others, helped the Next Jennaration advance to the final round of the tournament. The duet “Sound of Hate,” performed by Hailey VanAlstine and Mason Lehmann, also received the highest score among duets at the competition. The school won the Victory Cup, which is given out to the highest scoring routine of the competition, in the final round with its “Seasons” routine.
“It was 2015 since our last Victory Cup championship,” Director Jenna Stickel said. “So, the kids have been working really hard for it for a few years now. It was really, really exciting and rewarding for them.”
All of the dancers at the school rehearse three to four times a week from September to July.
“They got out there and danced their hearts out and performed,” tumbling coach Jodi Dake said. “They were just awesome. They did great.”
Stickel said she is most pleased of how each dancer has developed as caring people.
“They are one big family, honestly,” she said. “It’s really nice to see kids supporting each other of all ages these days. So, really not just the win made me proud, but the way that they supported each other and cheered each other on, and they’ve helped each other throughout the years. The older kids help the younger kids. The younger kids are there to support the older kids. It’s just a really great atmosphere for the kids.”
The Star Dance Alliance also named the school’s routine “We’re All In This Together,” which included all of the school’s dancers, as one of six nominees out of 50,000 entries to be up for the Entertainment Award of the Year. The winner of the award will be announced on Aug. 1 during the World Dance Championship at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.
Dancers Bridget Jessop-Marshall (age six), Anaya Stickel (age seven), Taylor Mangoba (age nine), VanAlstine (age 15), Lehmann (age 15), Madie Higby (age 18) and Caitlin Browne (age 18) received scholarships to “Discover Spotlight,” where they will have the opportunity to audition in November for talent agencies and major television companies such as the Walt Disney Company, Lifetime and Nickelodeon. VanAlstine and Madison Howells (age 15) were given full World Scholarships, which gives them free attendance to the World Dance Pageant at the end of this month at the Meadowlands.The Next Jennaration received 14 invites to the world championship and will be performing the routines “This Is How I Live” and “Beyonce” at the competition. Both routines showcase dancers of ages eight or younger. The “This Is How I Live” routine is comprised of five dancers: Mangoba, Annabella Michalec, Addison Troy-Smith, Anaya Stickel and Mackenzie White. Those five dancers are also featured in the “Beyonce” Routine, along with seven others in Jillian Franklin, Madisyn Heck, Lindsey Kennedy, Leena Reyes, Zhora Stickel, Emma Virgadamo and Katy Yaple.
Anaya Stickel and Higby will perform solo routines during the Title Showdown at the world championship. Anaya was named Petite Miss National Starpower at the national competition, which is handed out to the top female soloist age eight or younger. She, along with Vivian Amos, will compete at the World Dance Pageant.
“They’ve got all of the technical elements,” she said. “They just need to perform from their heart and have fun.”