Soul Funktion teams win top award 

Hip-hop, jazz teams earn $6,000 for nationals, club

One week after winning gold medals in every category they entered at the Dance Power competition in North Vancouver, the Soul Funktion Dance Studio was back in action in Whistler in the regional 5-6-7-8 Showtime competition. Almost 1,000 girls from across B.C., Alberta and Washington took part in three days of high-energy contests.

Soul Funktion’s teams won first place overall in the competition, earning the $6,000 first place prize and an invitation to the nationals in Niagara Falls in July.

According to Soul Funktion founder Codi Dalen, the group will instead go to a dance competition in Banff, and will spend the next year fundraising for the nationals and looking for a sponsor to help cover costs. A portion of the prize money will go towards registration for that event, while the other half will go towards a new floor for the studio.

It’s been a busy few weeks for the dancers who say they’ve been training seven days a week for the competitions and an upcoming dance studio performance. Still, with gold medals from Dance Power and the overall title from the Showtime competition to show for their hard work, they say it was worth it.

At 17, Alix Rusimovich is one of the most experienced girls in the studio ("I’m basically the grandma," she jokes) as well as one of the most ambitious. In January she plans to audition for the dance program at Ryerson University in Toronto, one of the top programs in the country.

After four years in competitive dance, she says it’s still fun for her and she enjoys dancing as part of a team. "We do like to give’r out there. This year I’d say a lot of our success was because we were confident, we trained really hard to get to where we are and the judges liked us," she said.

"Another difference is that now we have our own studio. We got a lot more serious when that happened."

Putting together winning routines meant practically living at the studio, going to school, going to dance, then going home to sleep. They would rehearse for up to four hours at a time, combining training, routines, and practice for their upcoming studio production "The Sun Thief and the Cloud Queen…Elements of Love," which will take place June 16-17 with 200 dancers taking part, ages 3 and up.

Nikki Sadler is 13 and has also been dancing competitively for about four years.

"I was just so happy," she said of winning the overall title. "At first I was really honoured they chose us, but after looking back at how hard we’ve worked it was like, ‘sweet’, we did it.

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