By Terry Rogers
At the Youth America Grand Prix in Philadelphia held in January, five dancers from the Tatiana Akinfieva Dance Academy won third place for ensembles. The girls, Julian Kerr, 14; Ariana Knowles, 14, Emma Moorman, 13; Aidan Robbins, 13; and Juliana Warnock, 13, performed an emotional contemporary piece entitled “Awake My Soul.” The piece was choreographed by Tatiana Akinfieva Smith’s granddaughter, Tori Brown.
“It is breathtaking to watch the girls take the meaning of the piece and communicate it using their emotion and their movement,” Ms. Brown said. “The piece is about how, as people, we go through life and endure personal hardships and triumphs but ultimately whatever or whomever we love becomes our life and our home. Over the past year, each individual dancer in the piece has grown, matured and connected to the dance in a unique way, which is, what I think, makes the dance so special.”
As third place winners, the dancers have been invited to participate in the YAGP finals during the weekend of April 8 and 9 as well as the awards ceremony the following weekend, April 15 and 16. All five girls want to attend the competition weekend as well as the awards weekend. The cost for each dancer to attend the weekend events is $800, including travel, hotels, transportation in the city and meals. Each girl would like to raise additional funds in order to attend master classes during competition week. The master classes are taught by instructors around the world.
TADA is asking for donations of any amount to help the girls achieve their goal of attending the national event. Currently, individuals have been donating small amounts to help the girls offset the costs. Each donation is placed in a fund that will be divided among the five dancers.
“We are accepting any size donations, from small businesses, large businesses, individuals,” Sandy Soucek, who assists with publicity for TADA, said. “We are not selective, we are appreciative of any and all help. It has been heartwarming to see some of our dance family hand envelopes with small donations for our girls. In a perfect world, we would like to find a sponsor to support each of our five dancers individually and then we would not be fund raising like crazy, but we are grateful for any amount that will help our girls attend this exciting event.”
Ms. Soucek said that it is rare for dancers so young and from such a small town to take home one of the top prizes at such a prestigious competition which featured dancers from all over the country. Although the girls will be thrilled to attend the competition and awards weekend, the ability to take master classes with world-renowned instructors will be extremely beneficial to the dancers.
Businesses who sponsor the girls will receive daily acknowledgement on the TADA Facebook Page and Instagram. The studio photographer has also offered to bring dancers to the business location for publicity photos. Ms. Soucek said that the “Fantastic Five,” as the dancers have been dubbed, will visit a local horse riding business who donated for the trip where they will be photographed on horses in order to publicize the business.
TADA was born from the longest performing company in Milford and is named for the late Tatiana Akinfieva Smith, a professional ballerina in Russia and a beloved dance teacher in Delaware. Individuals or businesses who wish to sponsor the trip to YAGP finals should call 302-422-8822 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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