Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

February 13, 2014

F.I.R.M. Dance Company dominates competition

THOMASVILLE — The F.I.R.M. Dance Company has returned from the Access Broadway Dance Competition held Feb. 7– 8 in Panama City Beach, Fla. Once again, the company left an impression on the judges.

The dancers carried 40 numbers to the event and came home with 17 Platinum awards, 22 High Golds and one Gold award during the two-day competition against studios representing Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

“I could not begin to say how incredibly proud I am of these dancers, “ said F.I.R.M. Artistic Director Dana Willis.  “All of the dedication they’ve shown preparing for this competition season has paid off in spades. They left everything on the dance floor after each and every performance. This company had exceeded my expectations and has grown tremendously as dancers and performers. I  contribute this growth to the amazing instructors and choreographers of OBCDA.”

In addition to the preliminary awards, several performances also received first-place high-score honors in their categories.  These included “Mr. Cellophane,” a solo vocal performance by Hays Hankinson; “My Regret,” a dramatic acting with dance duet by Hankinson and Angel Michaels; “Prima Dona,” a jazz duet by Michaels and Christina Sellars; “Turning Page,” a lyrical trio performed by Michaels, Kaylyn Brinson and Alley Wilson; “Welcome to the Freakshow,” performed by the full F.I.R.M.Dance Company;  “Indestructible,” “What I’ve Done,” “Come and Get It,” “Grown Woman,” “Love You More,” and “I Was Here,” by the Senior Company; “Hair,” performed by the Junior and Senior Companies; “Took the Night,” and “Warrior,” performed by the Junior Company; and “Ladies Choice,” “Funky Monkey,” “Boots Were Made for Walking,” and “Disco Wedding,” all performed by the Pee Wee Company.  Also placing for preliminary awards was “Rock Star” by Anna Kate Littleton and “Holla at the DJ” by Latia Thomas in the solo Jazz 8 and under division; “Do My Thang,” by the Junior and Senior Companies; “Konichiwa,” “Tonight,” and “Wrecking Ball,” performed by the Senior Company, and “Applause,” and “Miss Invisible,” performed by the Junior Company.

Several dances performed by the F.I.R.M. Dance Company were also nominated for overall recognition in several divisions.  “Funky Monkey” was named best dance in the debut division, with “Ladies Choice,” “Disco Wedding,” and “Boots Were Made for Walking” all named as nominees.  “Come and Get It” was named best senior dance in the diva division and “Hair” was recognized as best Broadway production.  “Welcome to the Freakshow,” was named best dance production for the second year.  Also nominated in their respective divisions were “Prima Dona,” “Turning Page,” “Took the Night,” “Warrior,” “Miss Invisible,” “Indestructible,” “Konichiwa,” “Tonight,” “My Regret,” “Mr. Cellophane,” “Grown Woman,” and “Love You More.” 

Several dancers who performed solos were also nominated in their solo divisions, including Anna Kate Littleton, Latia Thomas, Airica King, Abby Myers, and Alley Wilson. One of the greatest honors for Willis, however, came when “Indestructible” was honored with a Best Choreography award. 

“This dance was choreographed by a former student of mine, Christina Wiginton,” said Willis.  “As a teacher, one of the proudest moments you can have is when one of your students is recognized.  Christina has become a very successful studio director in the Atlanta area, so I was thrilled when she returned home to share her talents with my current students.  It was a very proud moment for me to accept the choreography award on her behalf.”  Willis’ choreography for “Freakshow” was also nominated for this distinction.

Access Broadway judges also named the F.I.R.M. as “Best Performing Arts Studio,” a new accolade for Willis.

“We’ve been recognized previously as best dance studio, which is always an honor,” she explained.  “To be recognized for developing other talents beyond dance, such as vocal and dramatic acting was exciting. I have some truly talented students and this year, our company is one of the strongest I’ve ever seen.”

The Company will next compete Feb. 22 in Valdosta before heading to Jacksonville, Fla., in March.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to compete next so close to home,” said Willis.  “It is a great opportunity for our friends and family that can’t always travel with us to come out and support our dancers.”  Willis also remarks that it is an opportunity for those who may be interested in pursuing competition dance to come out and experience a competition first-hand.  “The amount of talent you see at these competitions is amazing.  I’m very proud of the dancers, prop pops and dance moms that travel with us to our competitions.”


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