Spotlight shines on local dancers

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 3, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

&uot;Brave Girl.&uot;

&uot;Miss Independence.&uot;

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When Sammi Wyatt was performing at the Dancer Spotlight dance competition on Nov. 13 in Richmond, she used those two songs to win a pair of medals. Perhaps that’s appropriate, for the titles are quite aptly descriptive for the dancer herself.

A student at King’s Fork Middle School and member of the Dynamic Movements dance team, Wyatt opened the competition by jazzing and hip-hopping to the above-mentioned Britney Spears tune in the 12-14 dance competition.

&uot;I was having fun,&uot; she said. &uot;I was doing my best with what I know how to do.&uot; It was good enough – up against 20 other dancers from across the state, the 13-year-old took the platinum (i.e., first place) for the competition.

While Wyatt was hopping, teammate Carmen Schoenster was tapping to the sounds of Shania Twain’s &uot;Up.&uot;

&uot;I practice when I’m at home,&uot; said the 11-year-old. &uot;I felt kind of scared, because (the other girls) were doing very well.&uot; Not TOO well – Carmen took a gold (second place) award, and one of the three judges called her performance the best that the judge had seen during the entire event.

Things kept rolling for the Suffolk team. Christie Whitener, performing in her first solo competition, won a gold in the jazz 12-14 group.

&uot;It’s different that being in a group,&uot; she said. &uot;Everyone’s watching you instead of the group.&uot; Avery Pittman and Tara Muth took golds in lyrical dance competition.

Then it was Sammi’s turn again. Picking up a microphone, she belted out the first few verses of Kelly Clarkson’s &uot;Independence.&uot; Then she started to dance to the music. A few minutes later, she’d won a gold.

&uot;I was surprised,&uot; she said. &uot;I thought I’d be good, but I wasn’t as advanced as everybody else.&uot;

The DM divas continued their success. Carmen and her sister Catherine took a gold in duet competition, and Sammi’s sister Mariss joined them to take a gold in trios.

Come June, the girls will head south to Myrtle Beach to compete in national competition. Carmen can’t wait.

&uot;It’s going to be hard,&uot; she said, &uot;but when you go against more and better people, it makes you try harder.&uot;

The squad, which will perform in the Suffolk Christmas Parade this Saturday, recently opened its own School of Performing Arts at 3205-C Bridge Road in the Bennetts Creek Shopping Center. It offers fitness and dance classes in the styles of tap, baton, jazz, hip-hop, gymnastics, ballet, salsa, merengue and bachata. For more information, call 686-0554 or 238-8252.