When DeStella Dance Center owner Alexis DeSabatine watches her students perform from backstage, she’s a bundle of nerves.
“I literally hold my breath and tense up,” she said. “I’m so nervous but also so excited.”
On July 27, she had reason to be excited as she watched from the backstage as one of DeStella’s dance teams take home a first place finish at the Star Dance Alliance World Dance Championships in Secaucus, NJ.
One of DeStella’s dance teams won a world championship in the 8-and-under large group intermediate division with her “Disco Fever” routine.
“It’s a mix of Earth Wind & Fire songs,” DeSabatine said. “It’s entertaining, it’s a real crowd pleaser and the kids are really enjoying it and giving it their all for the five minutes.”
In each category, judges choose the five highest-scoring teams to re-compete and narrow the field to three before choosing a division champion.
Faith Palmer, 11, from Penn Township, has been dancing since she was 3 and was part of the world championship team last week.
“We were all nervous, because we knew we were going to be up against some tough dancers,” Palmer said. “So we really had to step up our game.”
Palmer’s mother, Dana Fetter, said the World Dance Championships are different from other competitions the team has competed in.
“When we have local competitions, it’s people from here and maybe a few neighboring states,” Fetter said. “With this, it’s people from all over the world and the girls put in their best performance ever. I think they knew what they had to bring on stage to match the talent they were up against.
DeSabatine said she always goes through a range of emotions watching her dancers compete.
“It’s very stressful, but it’s also very overwhelming and exciting,” she said. “It’s like the Super Bowl of dancing, and sitting there watching them win, I just went crazy. I cried. I jumped. I was so excited.”
DeStella teams also competed against dancers from the competition’s Small Middle Group and Junior Middle Small Group 9-11 age divisions.
“It’s just the best feeling to see them go from learning routine in August to where they are now,” DeSabatine said. “All the kids danced amazingly, and we’re thrilled to be home and grateful for all the support from everyone at Export.”