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500 dancers take over Watertown for 15th annual competition


The song “Music Box” started to play as a young ballerina in a pink nightgown started her routine atop a large music box, dancing in elegant circles. Meanwhile, other ballerinas passed a small music box from one performer’s outstretched hand to the next while dancing playfully around it. The performers, Clare Buchanan, Nina Colello, Abigail Flint, Julia Largett, Madison Parker, Emma Rawson, Sophia Renzi and Annika VanWormer, performed in the petit lyrical small group Xccelerated division, for ages 7 through 9.

The group of ballerinas was one of hundreds of dance groups and solo performers who came to Watertown for the weekend for the 15th annual Dance Xplosion regional competition tour.

The Dulles State Office Building came to life with an invasion of sequins, taffeta, tulle, tap shoes and talent. More than 500 performers brought their choreographed routines in tap, ballet, lyrical, hip-hop, contemporary, jazz, acrobatics, clogging and more.

“Dancers have come from all over — Watertown area, Syracuse, Rochester, all the major cities,” said Richard Tagliarino, manager of Dance Xplosion.

Mr. Tagliarino said over the course of the show, the audience saw extraordinary performances and a wealth of talent. Dancers put on professional shows that brought to life their dedication to dance, he said.

Gianna M. Desantis, of Whitesboro, said she has been dancing for about eight years and practices with her classmates about six hours a week after school. She said it was her first competition of the year, but the 10-year-old performer plans to compete in four other dance competitions with other dancers from the Empire Center of Dance, Marcy, this year.

She took first and third place for high score for her jazz solo on Sunday afternoon. Over the weekend she performed tap, lyrical, acrobatics, hip-hop, ballet, solo and duets.

Mr. Tagliarino said the dancers were judged for technique in musicality, costuming and age appropriateness, choreography and execution.

Amanda D. White, of Carthage, said she is a new dance mom. Her daughters, ages 6, 11 and 13, all began dancing this year and performed over the weekend.

She said her daughters enjoyed competing, dancing to songs such as the “Fox Song” and performing duets, group dances and solos.

“They aren’t shy,” Ms. White said. “They have a lot of fun dancing.”

She said the weekend was a good opportunity to perform in front of the large crowds.

Mr. Tagliarino said throughout the competition he was constantly amazed by the energy and joy of the performers.

“When we started this company we did so with the mission to make sure the competition was always about the dancers, not about the money or just the awards,” he said.

He also credited the roughly 20 support staff members who worked backstage as judges and greeting dancers.

During the awards ceremonies, as the stage filled with young dancers, some still in their sparkling costumes, the announcers threw out stuffed animals, flowered necklaces and beach balls.

“Everyone gets something. Even if they don’t win a trophy, we give out pins, medals and plaques,” Mr. Tagliarino said.

Prizes were awarded at eight award ceremonies throughout the weekend.

Final results are available at Dance Xplosion’s website

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