Movement dancers in the spotlight

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Youth dancing is a woman’s world n Travis Stoner’s just hip-hopping in it.

“I always wanted to learn to dance,” said the Nansemond River High student, one of the few males to attend the Dynamic Movements School of Performing Arts. “I wanted to hip-hop to the bee-bop. I’ve been coming since January, and it’s been cool. I’ve met a lot of new… friends.”

For the past few months, Stoner prepared for his first-ever competitive event, the regional Dancers’ Spotlight in Durham, N.C. At least once a week, he and duet partner Sammi Wyatt, whose brother Steve also dances at the Bridge Road school, rehearsed their hip-hop/acrobat routine to the Will Smith tune “Switch.”

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“I was excited,” Stoner said. “I thought it would be something new.”

On Nov. 12, the group headed south to a hotel for the competition. In such events, competitors are not judged against one another; anyone who gets a score above 80 (out of a possible 90) is deemed to have won a platinum, or finished first. Those who score lower get High Golds (second) or Golds (third).

Carmen Schoenster got things started with a solo routine to Josh Groban’s “Remember.”

“One of the judges, it’s really hard to get his approval,” she said. “I knew he liked Josh Groban, and I like Josh Groban, so I picked the song.” Her ploy worked; Schoenster’s score of 83.5 not only won her a platinum in the age 12-14 solo competition, but was the third-highest score of the entire event.

The awards started to pile up. Mariah Adickes won the 9-11 solo event with her dance to “God Bless America,” and Sammi got a platinum in the 12-14 competition with a performance of Missy Elliott’s “Lose Control.” Kourtney Timm won the 15-17 event to “Black Velvet,” and teamed with Carmen McCarthy in a duet of “She Will Be Loved,” for another platinum. In her first-ever solo performance, Marissa Wyatt won a High Gold for her dance to “I’ve Just Begun.”

Travis and Sammi won a platinum for their routine, and Travis danced with Melissa Spicer and Lindsay Molnar in a trio to Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You,” for a Gold. Then, as the contest wore down, he found that he’d won one more honor.

Each of the three judges chose their own individual favorites. Stoner was one; Sammi was another.

“I thought it was fun,” Stoner said, “because all the girls were yelling, ‘Travis!’ I didn’t think I was that great.” Sammi, who took part in several other group dances, also said she was surprised at her victory.

All in all, all 29 of the Dynamic team’s routines won one of the three prizes, qualifying them for national competition, which is scheduled for June in Myrtle Beach.

“It’s cool,” Stoner said. “It’s fun. I’m going to try to make the best of it.”

Locals will get an early shot to see the dancers in action; they’ll be performing in both the Suffolk Christmas parade Dec. 3 and the Smithfield event Dec. 10.