By Leigh Ann Rutledge
To say Emily Grove likes dance is an understatement.
The energetic, flexible 10-year old, can walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk. Not only is she able to bend, tuck, roll and flip, she is very articulate in explaining what dance competitions involve.
Grove competed in the Showstoppers National Finals in Sandusky the end of June and placed fifth overall in the nation out of 55 competitors in the 9-11 age group.
The fifth place honor was achieved by combining the scores of the different categories for her age group in the finals. Emily place first in the character category. This category required her to use dance, acrobatics and tumbling to act out a character. She also competes in the open category where participants can do all types of dance. There are 12 different types of dance in the competitions. Routines are usually 2 minutes and 45 seconds to three minutes long.
She chose Evie from the Disney show “The Descendents”. The Disney website describes Evie as, “the daughter of the Evil Queen. She is great at creating her own fashions and can communicate with her magic mirror.”
“I chose Evie because she is all about fashion and style,” Emily explained. “I was taught at a young age about beauty. Plus she has blue hair.”
During her routine, Emily used a mirror as a prop like Evie. The competition season is over (it runs January – June) and Emily is working on anew routine with a new character and music.
The first competition of the season, Emily placed first in character and 14th out of 71 overall. She was competing against girls not only from Ohio, but from out-of-state and Canada.
Emily began dancing with Starstruck Dance and Tumbling when she was three years old. They begin learning the basics at that age and start attempting tricks at age six. “Tricks” are moves such as the aerial (cartwheel with no hands), backhand springs, chest roll, and more.
She enjoyed the first two years of training and by her fourth year, was asked to do a solo routine.
The students can also learn gymnastics if they choose. Emily competes in the floor routine, balance beam, vault and the low bar on the uneven bars. She competed in Canal Fulton in May and placed first overall in her age group. In the individual categories, she placed first in floor routine and vault, second on beam and 11th on bars.
She also competed in the Creation Competition at Independence in May. She placed first in character and second overall.
Not only does Emily participate in solo competition, she does two dance routines with other Starstruck Dance students.
The “Jungle Warriors” is comprised of six students who perform a character routine with acrobatic elements. They do backhand springs, aerials and other tricks in alignment.
She is also a member of the “Me & My Girls” group who add a jazz dance element to the routine.
During the off season, Emily is learning two new solo routines, one for the character category and a contemporary routine. She practices at least seven hours a week at the Starstruck facility, located in the old YMCA building on Moody Ave. in Carrollton. Emily explained, she learns a new part of the routine and memorizes that portion then adds the next part. With the help of her instructor, ideas Emily wants included are in the routine.
Along with the time in the gym, she also has fun at home. She will move the furniture around and practice in the living room.
“My brother (Caleb) and I go to grandmas and make up dances,” she laughed. Caleb also participates in the routines.
Emily’s favorite category to participate in is acrobatic, followed by jazz and then character and contemporary.
“I plan to continue competing the character category because I get to act,” she said. “Acting is so much fun.”
Audrey, Emily’s mother, danced for Missy Trainer, the owner of Starstruck Dance and Tumbling, when she was a youth. She competed in tap dancing.
“I am surprised at what Emily can do,” Audrey stated. “The instructors do a really good job at teaching all types of dance.”
Dance categories include hip-hop, musical theater, jazz, acrobatic, character and folk lure (belly dancing). Judging is based on how good the dance is to the type it is.
In competitions, competitors are awarded medals, based on accumulated points. Double Platinum is the highest award. Emily admitted she was three-tenths of a point away from receiving a Double Platinum medal at the national competition.
“I was glad I placed fifth overall, but also grumpy because I wanted a bigger trophy,” Emily explained. “This encourages me to try harder to beat the competition next time and learn new tricks.”
She is working on her landing for a backhand spring (legs are to be together coming down) and is working on the “tuck,” a backflip using no hands.
In the future, Emily says she wants to be a professional dancer and an actress. “I want to be famous and then be a dance teacher.”
Emily is the daughter of Audrey and Jody Grove of Carrollton. She has two brothers, Collyn, 12, and Caleb, 8. She will be in the 5th grade at Carrollton Elementary this fall.