SUBLETTE COUNTY – Sublette County made a big debut in the Utah dance arena last week at the Spotlight Dance Cup with WYLD Dance Company competing 15 dancers in the regional challenge, taking numerous top spots and qualifying for the national competition in Las Vegas this coming July.
“This is the first time I’ve taken a team to the Spotlight competition and came away with rubies and diamonds on our first try,” instructor Anastasia Hamilton said. “This is huge.”
For the first time ever, dancers from Sublette County will take to the national dance stage, showing off their technique and character as they vie for awards during this once-in-a-life-time experience, Hamilton said.
Spotlight Dance Cup is one of the hardest dance competitions in the nation. The regional dance competition groups teams together for performances, which were critiqued and awarded by the ability level and by age division. Top placers received diamond awards, followed by ruby, then emerald and sapphire jewels.
Not only did the dancers take home ruby awards for all three of their team dances (including the jazz dance to “Gimme a Minute,” the hip-hop performance of “Lose Control” and the contemporary program to “Colorblind”), but several solo and duet performances received top marks as well.
One top performer was Jill Warembourg, a Pinedale High School sophomore, who not only earned a diamond for her performance “It,” she was also the overall division winner and received a special judge’s choice award.
“I pushed the dancers hard this year, giving them difficult choreography and pieces that were musically challenging,” Hamilton said. “I pushed their abilities both mentally and physically. The team really learned that hard work pays off.”
Junior PHS Corlee Howard received a ruby for her performance with “Piece by Piece,” taking second overall in the division.
Hamilton said: “This dance was special to both of us. There was a story here that needed to be told, and she told it with breathtaking ability. It is a real emotional rollercoaster.”
Howard along with dancemate, also a PHS junior, Madison Allen received ruby recognition with a division first place for the duet to “Before You Go.”
“A division winner means they scored the highest overall in their category,” Hamilton said. “They won against all the other studios competing in the same style, age, and ability level.”
The team’s other duet group of dancers, sisters Madeline and Charlotte Hawke took home an emerald award for their overall division first place.
Two other Wyld team members were also deemed category winners: fifth-grader Naomi Gaffney jazzed out to “That Man” received a ruby while Big Piney High School freshman Skye Sperl earned an emerald, as the category winner for her hip-hop dance to “Team.”
“For many of these dancers, this is only their first or second year dancing with me,” Hamilton said. “Many of them do not have prior dance experience before coming to WYLDDC. Also, many of them are new to the competition dance world. These kids are technically ‘new’ dancers and for them to push themselves to be better each year and achieve a goal like this is truly amazing.”
The Alpha group of competitors is comprised of 10 dancers: Madison Allen, Corlee Howard, Kirsten Klaren, Melissa Layne, Moorea Moyes, Landon Preece, Abigail Scanlon, Camilla Scanlon, Skye Sperl and Jill Warembourg.
One will graduate after just joining the team this year, Landon Preece.
“Landon has brought a new fresh look to our hip-hop dance this year,” she said. “He is a very talented young man that I wish we could have had the pleasure of working with longer. He brings a certain confidence level to our team. It is a lot of fun to have him.”
Hamilton formed WYLD Dance Company just three years ago in Pinedale with just a few dancers the first day, to now hosting more than 90 young dancers in studio.
Before moving to Pinedale, Hamilton had previously worked at a dance studio for many years.
“It had been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to open up my own studio,” she said.
After graduation with her degree in dance in 2011, Hamilton went to work at studios right away.
“When I moved to Pinedale there was no dance program here,” she said. “I knew that I had something to offer this community, and decided to jump in. With the help and support of my husband and kids, I was able to open a studio, and each year it has grown beyond my wildest dream. This truly is an amazing community and I am so grateful to be able to work with the kids here.”
This is Hamilton’s third year of taking local talent to dance competitions.
“The accomplishments we have achieved in such a short period of time is incredible,” Hamilton said of her dancers, “I push my dancers every day to be the best they can be.
“Each year I am proud of the growth the kids make and their drive to be great. I always tell the kids, ‘We may be from a small town, but that does not mean we have to be small-minded in our abilities, successes and goals. We want to be the small town, with big dreams and aspirations for ourselves, and then go out and work hard to achieve them.’”
“They continue to impress me. I am so proud,” she said.
Locals can catch these great dances live as the WYLD Dance Company recital is set for June 4 and 5 at 6 pm in the Pinedale Auditorium. Tickets will go on sale May 10 to the public. Admission is $10 for Adults and $5 for students.
Summery of Awards
Jazz Dance - Gimme a Minute- Ruby
Hip Hop Dance - Lose Control- Ruby
Contemporary Dance - Colorblind- Ruby
IT- Jill Warembourg: Diamond, judges choice award, overall division first place
Piece by Piece- Corlee Howard: Ruby, overall division second place
Loveshot- Camilla Scanlon: Ruby
Resilient- Kirsten Klaren: Ruby
Amen- Jill Warembourg: Ruby
That Man- Naomi Gaffney: Ruby, category winner
WORD UP- Shaye Mills: Ruby
Work it Out- Madison Allen: Emerald
Team- Skye Sperl of Big Piney: Emerald, category winner
Temperature- Melissa Layne: Emerald
Breathe- Amelia Gaffney: Emerald
Breakin’ Dishes: Madeline Hawke and Charlotte Hawke: Emerald, overall division first place
Before You Go: Corlee Howard and Madison Allen- Ruby, overall division first place