Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

June 26, 2014

Dance group battles at the beach

THOMASVILLE — The F.I.R.M. Dance Company has returned from the Platinum National Dance Competition, and this year’s results will go down as one of the best seasons ever experienced by the competitive dance team.   Two gold awards, 23 platinum awards and two platinum plus awards returned with the group of 53 dancers from a week of competition in Panama City, Fla.  The group also achieved numerous overall championships, seven judge’s awards, a choreography award and the prestigious Sportsmanship Award after being selected from 26 studios in recognition of the supportive conduct of dancers, parents, and prop pops.   The team also qualified four dances to compete in the Gala for the title of Best of the Beach.

“I knew going into the competition that we were the strongest we’ve ever been, and I expected us to perform well,” said Dana Willis, Artistic Director.  “My dancers far surpassed my expectations and blew me away.  We’ve never been selected to compete in the Gala, so to be asked back for not one but four dances was incredibly rewarding.  

According to Willis, the dances that qualify for the Gala represent the highest scoring entries throughout the five-day competition of more than 550 performances.  The F.I.R.M. Dance Company earned the honor of competing four entries from a total of 32 selected for the final championship.  “We came off of a grueling two-week preparation from our Spring Production with very little time to recoup, and our dancers still came out and danced strong,” said Willis.  “It showed not only their level of talent, but also their commitment and endurance.  I couldn’t be happier.”

The entries that were competed in the Gala included the full company dance, “Welcome to My Freakshow,” which also earned a Platinum Plus Award, Judges Award and was named first place in its category; “My Regret,” a duet performed by Angel Michaels and Hays Hankinson that earned a Platinum Award and judge’s recognition; “I Was Here,” a Senior Company lyrical dance, which also earned a Platinum Award and second place in its category, and “Chandelier/Don’t Look Down,” a contemporary Senior Elite dance that earned a Platinum Plus and first place overall score.  

Other dances that placed in their respective divisions included “Ladies Choice” for 6th place by the Pee Wee Company, “Warrior” for 5th place by the Junior Company, “Love You More” for 2nd place by the Junior Elite and Senior Company, “Miss Invisible” for 9th place by the Junior Company, “Wrecking Ball” for 3rd place by the Senior Company, and “Grown Woman” for 3rd place by the Junior Elite and Senior Company.  “Grown Woman” was also recognized for Excellence in Jazz Choreography.  

“These dancers have worked very hard preparing for every performance this entire season, so I’m very happy their dedication was rewarded with such impressive results,” said Willis.  “For my graduating seniors, it was an appropriate final competition and one that will go down in the history of our company as one of the most successful competitions we’ve had.  I couldn’t be any happier or more proud.”  

     Now that the dancers have returned from Nationals and the successful Spring Production “Shoes” is in the books, Willis said that attention now turns to preparing for the 2014-2015 season.  “I want to capitalize on the momentum we have right now and continue building on the great foundation we have going into next year’s season,” explained Willis.  “If any dancer is interested in being a part of this elite group of dancers, the summer workshop is the best opportunity to learn more about what is involved in becoming a competition dancer.”  

Willis explains that the workshops aren’t just for those interested in auditioning for the F.I.R.M.; they are designed for any dancer who would like to strengthen their skills and learn new skills and challenging choreography.  “Anyone who dances for another studio would benefit from a workshop that gives exposure to different choreographers and the opportunity to sharpen their dance skills during their summer break.” The Thomasville workshop, geared toward beginning and intermediate dancers, will be July 7 through 11 and the Cairo workshop, intended for the intermediate to advanced dancer, will be held July 14 through 18.  Auditions for the 2014-2015 F.I.R.M. Dance Company will be held on the Friday concluding each workshop session.  For more information, please call 377-2800 or visit

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