Whistler dancers clean up 

Three Whistler Dance Academy teams and three solo performers took part in the Western Canadian Championships in Banff last week, earning four gold medals and two silver medals against dozens of other teams from as far away as Manitoba.

"I’m so proud of them," said dance instructor Nanci Potton. "We went to the provincials and didn’t place that well, second and third, then went to the Western Championships and all of our teams placed first."

Potton worked with two jazz dance teams, and three jazz solo performers.

In the solo competitions, Nicole Sadler won gold, and Stephanie Moody and Brittany Duggan won silver.

In the age 12 and under team competition, the team of Nicole Sadler, Natasha Quinn, Alex Rusimovich, Julianna Waters and Megan McSkimming won gold with their routine to "The Gap."

Doing something a little different in the age 15 and under group, the team of Becky Kleinman, Brooke Playfair, Brittany Duggan and Sarah Morden won gold for their jazz rendition set to Metallica’s "Don’t Tread On Me."

The Hip Hop team of Lilli Baker, Meagan Lande, Natasha Quinn, Danielle Robson, Becky Bennett, Brooke Browning and Jordan Kobelka, with instructor Krista Hoffs, also won gold in their category.

With more than 40 dance schools represented at the Western Championships, Potton was at a loss to explain how the Whistler dancers, in their first year competing, could do so well.

"The one thing they all have in common is a gymnastics background, so we have to give some credit to the gymnastics club," said Potton. "They girls are fit and they’re used to competitions."

Potton also gave an assist to the mothers of the dancers, who got together to help the Academy get to Banff.

"They were 150 per cent supportive of Krista and myself. They helped with the costumes, with extra practices, with fund-raising, with driving. I don’t think we could have made it there without their help."

There were 150 girls enrolled in the Academy this year after five years in operation. Based on the results in competitions this year, the instructors are planning to increase the number of competitions they attend.

Members of the Whistler Dance Academy currently train about five hours each week in dance, in addition to an average of 12 hours in gymnastics.

The Academy is also is the process of becoming accredited to provide exams for dancers, which allows them to acquire levels they can use to teach dance and enter competitions.

The Academy is on break until school starts up again in September, although there will be a summer dance school in Pemberton for the last week of July and the first week of August.

For more information, or to enroll in the summer program, contact Nanci Potton at 604-905-5668.

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