Local studio wins World of Dance competition

It can be hard to find Savage Dance.

The dance company is located in Eldersburg off of Md. 26 and Klee Mill Road, surrounded by car lots and auto body shops.

But while the studio may be hidden, its dance company is bringing it plenty of attention. The company recently went to New Jersey to participate in a World of Dance competition, and, despite being the only 18 and younger company, won.

The company competed in the upper division of the World of Dance program. If World of Dance sounds familiar, it might be because it is now a television show with Jennifer Lopez serving as one of its executive producers.

Studio owner Nichole Savage said they first heard about the competition from one their choreographers, Dez Soliven.

"He said you need to do World of Dance," Savage said.

Soliven taught the company the choreography a few weeks before they performed, and Savage said her expectation was that they would do it to gain experience.

There wasn't a junior division at the competition, meaning the dancers, who ranged from 8 to 18 years old, were competing against adult groups, some of whom had won the competition before. When Savage Dance was announced as the winner, Savage said she was "shocked."

"It was quite humbling that a little community from Carroll County can go to New Jersey, New York and beat crews that are three-time champions," she said.

Savage said she's hardly surprised when it comes to the dancers, but she did not expect that they would place first. Neither did the dancers, said 14-year-old Katelyn Costella.

"We went in there thinking it was hard. We didn't think we'd win," Katelyn said.

Jalen Stewart, 15, said it was also a good way to get the studio's name out. The competition was a different environment than other competitions they've done. It was positive, and they got energy from the other crews that competed.

"The love for hip-hop. Everyone just loved what they were doing," Jalen said.

It was also a good opportunity for everyone in the company to gain experience, said Savage Dance team member and Nichole Savage's daughter, 14-year-old Alexis Savage.

"I think it was really good to get the younger ones, and us older ones, in that environment," Alexis said.

And while learning the dance in only a few weeks can be challenging, Jalen said, it's something that will prepare them for professional life.

"So it's training your brain for the future," he said.

After winning World of Dance, the studio competed in The Dance Awards in Orlando, Florida, July 9-15 and continued to perform well, finishing in the top five in their division and receiving recognition for best musical theatre, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, technical achievement and outstanding choreography while narrowly missing out on winning studio of the year, according to Savage.

The studio has been operating for 15 years, but in the past five years, Savage moved the studio to focus more on the commercial industry to help the dancers prepare for professional dance careers, she said.

She said they've stopped going to local competitions, where the dancers weren't getting as much new experience or learning, and started bringing in more professional choreographers, like Soliven, whose resume includes choreographing for Gwen Stefani.

The students get training in ballet, since it's a building block for other dances, but the studio also offers jazz, street jazz and musical theater dance, among other forms of dance, to give the dancers a repertoire of skills to take with them to auditions. Heel classes are also taught because many dances are performed in heel shoes, Savage said.

And winning the World of Dance has brought attention to the studio, especially with social media, she said.

"The amount of people who are reaching out to Savage, it's crazy," she said.

heather.mongilio@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7898

twitter.com/hmongilio

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