Dance Theater in Medina wins ‘National Grand Champions’ award

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 August 2022 at 9:32 pm

Group also wins two 2nd place awards at Elite Dance Challenge

Photo by Tom Rivers: Brandon Johnson, owner of Dance Theater in Medina and instructor for the competitive dance teams, is pictured with many of the dancers on the competitive team. Dance Theater won a first place and two seconds at a national dance competition on July 22 in Cape May, NJ. Amy hazel, in back left, and Emilie Preston, in back second from right, also are instructors at Dance Theater working with the recreational program.

MEDINA – Brandon Johnson and dancers from Dance Theater are basking in a strong showing a national competition.

One group from Dance Theater won the first place as “National Grand Champion” for their performance of Jumanji. They won in the age 13 over group.

Dance Theater also won second place in age 12 under group for “The Power” and another second in the age 13 over group for “These Hands.”

The dancers at nationals included: Elaina Bruce, Sydney Bruce, Adella Dukes, LiLiana Goebel, Lexi Hare, Alexis Jones, Olivia Maynard, Makenzie McGrath, Isabella Monacelli, Hailey Moore, Izabella Murphy, Brook Pisano, Natalie Rath, Gracie Tardibone, Marli Thrash, Carly Voelker, Hailey Walker and Arabella White.

“I felt like all of our hard work paid off,” said Marli Thrash, 17, of Albion. “We are in the studio a lot and we have a really good teacher.”

Provided photos: “Jumanji” – 1st Place National Grand Champion, Age 13 over Group

The dancers have been working on their numbers since September, sometimes putting in five hours a day at the studio. The rehearsal time picks up on breaks and in the early summer as they get ready for nationals.

Dance Theater competed with 28 other studios at the Elite Dance Challenge in New Jersey. Dance Theater sent three different teams and they performed 32 numbers, and advanced to the final dance off for three.

Johnson, 39, is celebrated his 20th year of owning the dance studio. One of his dance teams won at nationals in 2018.

He was grateful for a chance to see the dance perform at this year’s recital and at the dance competitions without restrictions on crowd sizes, or have to wear masks on stage.

“These Hands” – 2nd Place National Grand Champion, Age 13 over Group

In 2020, Dance Theater did a recital but it was limited to 50 people, including the crowd. He staggered that recital over 10 sessions – 10 hours in one day. Last year the group performed in competitions while wearing masks and with a limit on guests.

This year it was “back to normal” for Johnson and the dancers. He was thrilled to see the groups having fun on stage, and to see the competitive teams advance in the regional competition in Rochester, earning a shot at nationals.

“It does feel good coming out a pandemic,” Johnson said. “It was nice to be back on stage in the competitive dance circuit.”

He praised the dedication of the dance teams. Johnson has about 130 dancers at the studio, with about 30 on the competitive teams. The competitive dancers are at the studio usually two to three times a week, sometimes from 4 to 10 p.m., honing their craft.

“It is a dedicated group of dancers who are looking for a little more,” he said.

Johnson works with the competitive teams, and will bring in guest choreographers to help make the performances even better.

Thrash, one of the dancers, said the group appreciates Johnson’s commitment to the program.

“I’m very thankful for ‘B’ and for everything he has done,” she said.

Dance Theater will have its fall open house from 5 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 11-12, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Aug. 13. Dance Theater is located at 425 Main St. Call the studio at (585) 590-4643 for more information.

“The Power” – 2nd Place National Grand Champion,  Age 12 under Group