Leaps and bounds for Suffolk dancing champion

Published 9:31 pm Friday, May 26, 2017

A Suffolk native is pursuing her dreams of professional dance with intense training and grand achievement.

Morgan Higgins, a 16-year-old competitive dancer, grew up in North Suffolk’s Harbour View and has been homeschooled since the third grade. She spends most of her time working with coaches and practicing her routines in the studio.

She was rewarded for her dedication last year when she was selected as the 2016 National Teen Female Best Dancer at the Dance Awards in Orlando, Fla. Her solo performance was judged by a panel of renowned teachers.

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She competed against the best dancers in the country and won after a long year of training.

Morgan Higgins, 16, holding her award at the 2016 Dance Awards in Orlando, Fla. She won the competition’s Teen Female Best Dancer category.

“It felt incredible,” she said.

She had competed at the event in the two years prior when it was held in New York City. She said that by the end of the 2015 competition, she was more determined than ever before to win.

That year leading up to the competition in Orlando was filled with early mornings and late nights of dance sessions. Many extra classes and private tutoring sessions were added to a schedule that already had her training for more than 45 hours per week.

“I told myself that next year I would win,” she said. “That was my goal for that whole year.”

She met with renowned dance instructor Travis Wall at Denise Wall’s Dance Energy in Virginia Beach — his mother’s studio — where Higgins is a student. The two met one early morning in January 2016 before the competition in July.

They crafted her winning solo routine in about an hour and a half.

“Working with Travis is a whole other experience,” she said. “He’s so amazing.”

Called “This Confinement,” the solo uses a soundtrack of sharp and unsettling sounds to create an unnerving ambience. Her honed movements worked in tandem with this provocative track to leave a lasting impression at the competition.

“We picked this song because it was very quirky and kind of odd, and  it really showcased my movements nicely,” she said. “It was a song that nobody had heard of and I doubt anyone else used. It was something fresh and new.”

Her path to that award-winning stage started when she first tried dancing at age 5. She said didn’t like it at the time. It wasn’t until around age 11 when she started to take an interest. She began with ballet classes before incorporating other dance styles as she got older.

When it comes to dancing, Higgins described herself as a “workaholic.”

“I love going in there every single day, working out and sweating, and I love performing on stage,” she said.

“That rush of adrenaline really feeds your soul.”

Higgins will travel to Alberta, Canada this August for Camp Protégé, an exclusive five-day mentorship in the Canadian outdoors with some of the world’s best choreographers. She was invited by choreographer and dancer Stacey Tookey.

This July, she will perform at Dancer Palooza in Long Beach, Calif., a less stressful festival for dancers across the country. She said it was like “the nationals after party.”

“I’ll definitely do my solo and the opening number,” she said.

She continues to train at Dance Energy with more than 20 other dancers in her age group. The training never lets up, but there is still some time for levity, she said.

“We’re always laughing about something, but at the same time we’re always ready to snap out of it, work hard, and be the best that we could possibly be,” she said.

She’s grateful for all of her teachers and family that have supported her throughout the years. She said she wants her dancing to inspire people.

“I feel that dance is my outlet to inspire the world,’ she said. “I just hope that when people watch me dance, they feel that they can accomplish anything.”