Wyld Dance's hardest goodbye yet

Wyld Dance Company to see final performances of four senior dancers June 3 and 4 at the Pinedale High School Auditorium.

Four members of the Wyld Dance Company’s high school competition team just graduated, leaving behind their best year of competition as their dance season comes to end with the studio recital at 6 p.m. June 3 and 4 in the Pinedale High School Auditorium.

“This is the hardest goodbye yet,” said Anastasia Hamilton, who owns and operates Wyld Dance Studio in Pinedale. “Actually, I am still in denial.”

The Wyld dance team will say farewell to its senior competitors: Madison Allen, Corlee Martin, Kirsten Klarén and Jill Warembourg.

Wyld Dance Studio opened just four years ago, offering dance instruction as well as an opportunity for dancers to compete regionally. Last year, however, dancers performed so well they earned to perform at the national Spotlight competition in Las Vegas.

Wyld's three team dances each earned a ruby rating with solos by Allen, Martin and Klarén also receiving ruby ratings. Warembourg received a diamond rating at the Las Vegas venue and placed second overall high score in the team's first national competition.

Hamilton said, “I apologize ahead of time for the emotional mess I will be on Saturday night as I say goodbye.”
“I have had the privilege of knowing these girls for the past four years,” Hamilton said. “These girls have been with me since the beginning. Our journey together has been so much fun. We have created such strong relationships, both in and out of the studio.”

Four years ago, when Hamilton opened the studio, the team went to a single competition. Both Klarén and Warembourg competed while Martin had just moved to town and danced with the team in time for recital.

The next year, Madison Allen joined on the Wyld dance team. From then on, the dancers have competed together each year.

This year, all four seniors and the Alpha group also performed extremely well.

In returning to a Spotlight competition in May, Warembourg competed a lyrical solo to Elton John's “Your Song,” earning first place overall as a category winner and receiving a Special Judge's Choice Award. Allen and Martin received a diamond award for their duet “Wherever You Will Go,” placing first overall and receiving a Special Judge's Choice Award. Allen's solo routine to “Your Winter” was another diamond performance, placing fourth overall. Martin's lyrical solo to “Far Away” received a ruby, as did Klarén's contemporary solo to “Lullaby.” For the team dances, the contemporary dance to “One Last Breath” was a diamond performance, placing second overall and receiving a Special Judge's Choice Award. The jazz routine to “Let's Get Rocked” and the hip-hop dance to “For the Glory” both finished with ruby standings. 

The Starpower challenge in Gillette in March was a great season starter as the team's soloists took eight of the nine overall banners.

Martin received 5 stars and a first-place overall high score. Warembourg finished third overall high with 5 stars and a Judge's Choice Award. Klarén also received 4 3/4 stars and a fourth-place overall finish. Allen also received 4 3/4 stars for her top-10 performance. The duet with Martin and Allen had a fourth-place overall high score with its 4 3/4 star rating.

For the team, “One Last Breath” rated 5 stars and placed first overall with the high score and received a Judge's Choice Award, while “Let's Get Rocked” took second place overall with 4 3/4 stars.

The dancers then competed in Idaho Falls during April for the Aspire Challenge with three of the senior dancers taking overall titles.

Warembourg received a diamond rating, taking first place as well as the overall high score winner.

Martin's solo was also a diamond with a first-place finish and second-place overall high score. Klarén's solo was rated ruby, finishing first place and third-place overall high score. Allen's solo received a ruby rating. The Allen and Martin duet was a diamond first-place finish.

Each team dance received a ruby with “One Last Breath” taking first place, “Let's Get Rocked” jazz dance and “For The Glory” hip-hop routine each taking second place.

“It has been a pleasure to watch them bond and grow as individuals and as a team,” Hamilton said. “These girls have been so influential inside the studio. They are my solid glue that keeps our team together.”

Hamilton added that it’s going to be extremely hard to watch them leave this season, even though she is excited to see them go out and make something of themselves in this world.

“I can’t wait to see what they accomplish,” she said. “I know they will go far.”

This year's recital will also feature a special senior dance, which Hamilton recognizes as her favorite for the four dancers.

“The senior dance for recital this year will be one to remember,” she said. “It will definitely show you their bond and relationship with each other while making everyone in the audience cry. It is bittersweet and beautifully presented. It’s a perfect dance to say goodbye to each other and their team, while ensuring the support of each other and the continuation of their relationship past their goodbyes.” 

Jill Warembourg

Jill Warembourg is joining the senior group this year after switching to Skyline Academy at semester in order to graduate a year early.

The 17-year-old dancer was born and raised in Pinedale and started dancing at the age of 2.

“I didn't start getting serious technique training or getting serious about it as a sport until I was in fourth grade,” she said.
In 2016, as a fifth-grader, Warembourg went to her first competition as a fifth-grader in 2016. She started dancing with the Wyld Dance Company when it opened.

“I had just left my old studio and was really sad because I didn't think I was going to be able to dance or at least do group dances for the next season,” Warembourg said, adding that she learned Anastasia Hamilton moved to Pinedale and was starting a studio. “Stasia and some other girls interested in joining dance all got together to talk about what the season would be like as a Wyld dancer. She then had a trial class … and after doing some of her choreography, I knew I wanted to dance for that dream without any doubts.”

Warembourg has competed in team dances and duets as well as a few solos over the years, including the now-famed contemporary “IT” dance that garnered her a second-place overall national title last year in Las Vegas.

The dance is also a favorite of Hamilton's.

“It’s infamous now and will forever be our unique stamp made in the dance world,” Hamilton said. “We will always be able to say, 'We did that first.' It was unique and memorable. It pushed us both out of the norm and took people on a journey every time it was performed.”

Hamilton noted, “Jill is an incredible performer and actress no matter what routine it is, but this routine, it hits the nail on the head for her ability to capture and audience’s attention and make you feel something. It kept everyone on the edge of their seats. That dance will always be in my top favorites of all time.”

This year, however, Warembourg took to the stage with a lyrical routine, which Hamilton said she wanted to choreograph a routine to Elton John's “Your Song,” in order to challenge the dancer.

Warembourg said the lyrical dance scared her with its many technical elements.

“It's so technical,” she said, “and I don't have a lot of technique.”

Hamilton said that Warembourg struggled with the dance all year. Warembourg spent hours at the studio outside of class, just working through the dance and strengthening her technique.

At Starpower, Warembourg received a 5-star rating, claiming a third-place overall and receiving a Judges Choice Award, called “Light Up the Stage,” while fellow lyrical competitors from her team took first and second.

Then, at Aspire, Warembourg came off the stage, after just enjoying the dance, and learned that she received a diamond first place and overall high score winner.

At Spotlight, Warembourg again finished her routine, tearfully proclaiming that was the most fun. This time, Warembourg's diamond performance earned a first place overall and category winner. The performance also received a Specials Judge's Choice Award called the “Gave Me Goosebumps Award.”

“I love dance for so many reasons,” Warembourg said. “One main reason I love dance is the emotional outlet it provides. Dance is almost like its own version of therapy. Through movement you can self-express exactly what you mean when words fail or you're stuck in your head.

“I get to the studio and I can just leave everything on the floor. I also like dance because it's something I've always been able to have. Most sports like swimming you have to be at the pool to do it, but you can dance quite literally anywhere. Not only that, but growing up in Pinedale, I've seen many friends come and go in my life but I've always had dance to hold some consistency in my life.”

Warembourg plans to start classes at Central Wyoming Community College upon graduating high school, to study film and new media at the Riverton school.

“There are so many amazing parts about being on a competitive dance team,” Warembourg said. “One of the best … is the people. Even if you … aren't close with each other out of the studio, when you are on the floor there you become this unit. One big part about group dancing is working together and dancing like your one solid unit, it's really cool to work with the groups of people I've gotten to work with over the last seven years of competitive dancing.”

Warembourg's advice to the up-and-coming dancers who are a part of Wyld Dance Company: “Care about what you are doing, if not for yourself than for others. I'd also say remember dance is not just a sport but it's an art … It's hard to win with just technique and cool tricks; you need to perform and take the stage.

“I … want to say thank you to all the younger kids at the studio,” Warembourg said. “Oftentimes I can get caught up in what I'm doing and would be too hard on myself, this then leads to me forgetting why I dance. The younger kids always remind me why I love dance. They always take the stage like it will be the last time. They pour their souls into it and you can genuinely see how much they love it. School can be hard and kids can be mean, but at the studio they get to be themselves, unapologetically. They express themselves and they care about each other. I believe that is why I dance, and I want to thank them for reminding me every time I've forgotten.”

To new dancers just starting out, Warembourg says, “Dance comes off super scary. I think stage fright alone is the biggest thing that keeps people from wanting to try dancing.”

To combat the fear, Warembourg says she has a trick she uses and teaches to the younger girls on the team when they are nervous: “It's to pretend you are someone completely different. Someone who doesn't get scared and who is the best dancer ever.

“I tell them to pretend this isn't a competition, but a show they were hired to dance at and the president has paid to watch them dance at," she said, adding, "It sounds stupid but I find it's hard to get scared when you are pretending everyone already thinks you are the best. You can also pretend like no one is there. The lights are so bright you can't even see your parents let alone the judges from the stage.

“Either of these methods help, in my opinion, and if dance is something you want to try, don't let something stupid like stage fright hold you back.”

Hamilton said she will miss Warembourg's passion and leadership.

“Jill has been a solid backbone for our team and a wonderful leader,” she said, adding that Warembourg has the unique ability to connect and support everyone in the studio, from the youngest class to the middle school class and in her own class. 

“It truly is a unique gift, the way she can connect to people,” Hamilton said. “Her passion is something I will miss immensely.

She loves dance with her entire heart and soul and you can tell. She has so much passion and love for dance that it bleeds out of her. She spends hours practicing and rehearsing. She is an incredible supporter and encourager to the young students in the studio and they all look up to her so much.”

Madison Allen

Madison Allen was born and raised in Jackson, and has lived in Pinedale for about 10 years.

While Allen started dance when she was just 2 years old and danced until she hit first grade. She was then a barrel racer until the age of 14.

“I quit dance until I moved (to Pinedale),” Allen said, adding that as a third-grader she danced with two other instructors in Pinedale, one of which had her dancing at competitions for a couple of years. Then, when that instructor moved away from Pinedale, Madison quit.

“There were other dance instructors (who) came into Pinedale but I decided that dance was not for me,” she said. “So I quit. I played basketball instead of dancing … that was dumb.” 

Hamilton came into Pinedale and knew she was staying.

“So, I said, ‘Heck with it, I will meet her and go to one of her classes,’” Allen said. “I loved it so much. So, then I joined her dance team.”

At the time, Allen was 15 and a sophomore at Pinedale High School. 

“The first time I competed for Wyld, it was really nerve-racking,” she said, adding, “I was scared. I know how it feels now and I love the feeling of competing.”

While competing is very fun for Allen, it can be tough hanging around all day waiting for the specified time to get on stage and dance. Winning, however, is fantastic.

“We are a small town, so I think it’s pretty cool that we win,” she said.

Getting ready to compete successfully can also be challenging. Her least favorite part of dance is cleaning season – the time of year when dancers run their routines constantly with checks and do-overs.

Allen said: “This year, I thought that some of our dances were not going to look good because we cleaned them multiple times, and it still looked like garbage. But I was wrong … We killed it.”

At Starpower in Gillette, Allen's solo contemporary performance to “Your Winter” received 4 3/4 stars for a fourth-place overall high score while her lyrical duet routine with Corlee Martin to “Wherever You Will Go” also received 4 3/4 stars for a top-10 award. Allen's hip-hop duet with Skye Sperl to “Get Out Of My Way” earned 5 stars for a first-place overall high score.

At Aspire, Allen's solo received a ruby while her duet routine with Martin received a diamond rating for first place and the duet with Sperl finishing with a ruby rating.

However, at Spotlight, the duet with Martin again received a diamond rating and took first-place overall with a Special Judge's Choice Award. Allen's solo also received a diamond rating and took fourth-place overall while the duet with Sperl finished with a ruby rating.

She added the dance that really surprised her was her duet with Corlee Martin, dancing to “Wherever You Will Go.”
“We went to the biggest competition and got diamond, judge’s choice and first overall,” she said. “It was crazy because when (we) got off stage after dancing, we looked at each other and asked each other, ‘What the heck was that?’”

That performance was an outstanding moment for Allen, who says she’s learned a lot from dance, like being kind to others and learning to make friends with your dance team.

“It’s really nice when you’re close with your team,” she said. “I have accomplished a lot of things in dance. Making Stasia happy at competition is probably an accomplishment. … We want to make her happy so she doesn’t murder us at practice.”
Hamilton said Allen is a confident and strong dancer.

“She is a remarkable performer, you can’t take your eyes off her when she performs,” Hamilton said, adding that she will miss the strength of Madison’s passion.

“She is always pushing herself and working to overcome challenges,” Hamilton said. “No matter what Maddy goes through in her day-to-day, I can always count on her to be strong and for her to push past issues.”

As this year’s dance season comes to an end, Allen and the other Wyld Dance Company dancers prepare for the final performances in June. Allen says dance will always be a part of her life.

“Dance has been my go-to,” Allen said. “When I get sad, all I want to do is dance. It’s my happy place. It takes all the bad things away.

“I can see dance in my future,” she added. “I can’t get rid of it.”

This fall, Allen plans to attend Casper College to major in education. And a word of advice for those coming up in dance? “Just have fun and don’t be scared to make friends with your dance team … Make practice fun.” 

To coach Stasia, she said: “We are going to miss all the memories. Thank you for making me feel loved.”

Hamilton said. “[Madison] is a strong performer and a strong leader, and she leads by example. I will miss her energy and the fun dynamic she brings to the room every day.”

Corlee Martin 

Corlee Martin moved to Pinedale her freshman year, but she was no stranger to dance or dancing with Anastasia Hamilton.

“My dance career started when I was 2; Stasia Hamilton was my first dance instructor,” she said. “[Hamilton] was in high school, I was in diapers. I wanted to walk, talk, dress and dance just like her.”

When Martin moved to Pinedale her freshman year, she said, Stasia and the dancers at WYLD Dance Company had an impact.

“I joined because Stasia's studio reignited my love for dance,” she said, adding that her dance teammates “immediately welcomed and accepted me with open arms.”

Even though dance competitions were new to Martin as she joined the team, she said they were amazing experiences. 

“I have been able to meet so many new people and see so many amazing dancers and different styles of dance,” she said.

“Being on the competition team has exposed me to so many things I would have not experienced otherwise. Dancing with my group has created life long friendships with individuals very different from me ... working as individual parts to create a whole presentation.”

This year, Martin's dancing reached a new level as she took top honors at all three competitions with a lyrical routine to “Far Away.” Martin finished with a 5-star rating and first-place overall high score at Starpower. She followed Starpower with a diamond rating and first-place finish with second-place overall high score at the Aspire challenge. At Spotlight, Martin received a ruby rating at the Salt Lake City event.

“The choreography in my solo is the best I’ve had, it really stretched me as a performer,” she said. “I went into the season with only personal expectations of myself. I wanted to be sure to lay my heart on the stage with every performance and really tried to be present and enjoy every second.”

However, Hamilton said it was Martin's solo last year that was her favorite.

“'Piece by Piece’ by far was my favorite dance Corlee has done,” Hamilton said. “It came from such an emotional place, and I saw how much she grew as a performer in this routine. She had such an emotional connection to the piece that it gave you goosebumps and tears to fall.

“This was a monumental moment for (Martin). She was able to express and heal parts of her soul that are unseen to most. This dance I am sure will stay with her forever, and that’s a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of.”

Martin said her years of dancing with Hamilton have taught her a lot.

“Dance has taught me that beauty is strength, and work ethic is everything,” she said. “I have learned about guts, determination, grace and digging within myself to make myself better and holding my own standards,” she said. “I have learned that hard work pays off, and you don’t get diamonds without sore feet.”

Sore feet are one of the downsides of dance, which requires hundreds of hours of practice, rehearsals and performances.

“My least favorite part is taking my shoes off after a 12 to 14 hour day,” Martin said.

However, she knows that dance has taught her how to “get focused.”

“I used to get really nervous before performing, I now get focused,” Martin said. “This will help me later on in life in any high pressure situation.”

“Dance will always be part of who I am, it gets in your soul. I know I’ll always gravitate towards ways (that) I can have dance in my life.”

After graduation, Martin plans to move to Idaho Falls and to attend cosmetology school, and getting “a weenie dog” for companionship.

Howard's advice for up and coming dancers: “Don’t make Stasia mad. Enjoy every moment (and) work your hardest.”
For those just starting out, Martin said: “Don’t be scared. Believe in yourself. Trust the process.”

Hamilton said she will miss Martin's grace.

“And when I say grace, I don’t just mean her movement,” Hamilton said. “She has a beautiful aura that surrounds her. She is understanding and forgiving. She gives everyone around her grace and the ability/acceptance to be one’s self. Her soul is graceful and I love that about her.

“I will miss her passion while she dances and how you can feel her presence just by walking into the room. There is elegance and maturity to Corlee that is unmistakable and uniquely Corlee.”

Kirsten Klarén 

Kirsten Klarén was born and raised in Sublette County. She joined the Wyld Dance Company at its start in 2018 when she was a freshman at Pinedale High School.

“I have been dancing since I was a very little girl, maybe 3,” Klarén said.

While WYLD was the fourth studio Klarén had been a part of, it was the first she competed with.

“Before WYLD I had no solo experience,” she said. “I enjoyed competing with my solo because I was able to show who I was, not only as a person, but as a dancer. I am able to I share my spirit and my story with others. It is the most wonderful experience I have ever had.”

Klarén added that she has loved getting to know everyone and making new friends. 

“They aren't just my team, we're family,” she said. “I would do anything for those dancers.”

For Klarén, there is really no bad part to dance or competitions, except for maybe the early mornings for competition, which often requires hours for makeup and costumes long before a venue would open.

However, she did say the anxiety before going on stage might be her least favorite part.

“I am always terrified before I start dancing,” Klarén said. “My stomach does backflips and I'm so nervous, but then when we go on and I can dance with the people I care so much about ... I never feel happier.”

Reflecting back on those first years of competition, Klarén said: “My first competitions were very stressful and overwhelming because I didn't know what to expect, and I wasn't confident in my abilities as a dancer and teammate.”

“Now I know that my team has my back and they love me,” she said. “I know what a competition is like and I can prepare accordingly. Competitions are no longer stressful.”

Hamilton said this year's solo for Klarén was absolutely her favorite dance for the senior competitor.

“Kirsten is a beautiful dancer and pushes and tries very hard,” she said. “But, this solo is the first time I have witnessed the passion during a performance.”

Hamilton added that Klarén pulls at her heart every time it hits the stage.

“I know how hard she's worked to become emotionally vulnerable for this routine,” Hamilton said. “It’s not easy to bare your soul for an entire audience. This dance, this year, she pushed past her comfort zone and you can feel her pain and anguish. It’s absolutely stunning.”

Klarén's hard work paid off with her top finishes this year for her contemporary dance to “Lullaby,” including a first-place finish with a third-overall high score at the Aspire Challenge. Klarén also earned 4 and 3/4 stars at Starpower with a fourth-place overall finish followed by a ruby rating at the Spotlight Event.

“Dance has given me a part of myself,” Klarén said. “I am able to express my emotions and tell my story through dance and I was able to show more people with competitions. Dance made me stronger.”

Team dances also did well, earning diamond and ruby ratings and top placings this year.

At the March Starpower challenge in Gillette, the team's contemporary routine to “One Last Breath” received a first-place overall high score with a 5 star rating and a Judge's Choice Award with the jazz routine to “Let's Get Rocked” taking second-place overall high score with 4 3/4 star rating. For the Aspire challenge, the team dances each rated ruby with “One Last Breath” taking first place, “Let's Get Rocked” and “For the Glory” hip-hop routine taking second places. Finally at Spotlight,  “One Last Breath” was a diamond performance, placing second overall and also receiving a Special Judge's Choice Award, while  “Let's Get Rocked” and the hip-hop dance to “For the Glory” both finished with ruby standings.

“Honestly, my expectations were blown out of the water,” Klarén said of the team's competition season. “We did so amazing this year, and I am so proud to have been a part of it.”

But what stood out to Klarén is the people in her studio.

“They are so kind and we were able to laugh and cry together,” she said. “I really have a family here, and that is more than I could ever have dreamed of.”

Hamilton said she will miss Klarén's big heart and compassion.

“There is no one more supportive and loving in my studio then Kirsten,” Hamilton said. “She is the first to offer a hug when someone is down. She is the first to jump up when someone is hurt. She is beautiful inside her heart, and it exudes into our team, even in the younger classes.

“If there is any emotional trauma to the team, she is there, always, with a helping hand and sincere smile on her face. She is an emotional rock for us.”

As this is her senior year of competition, Klarén said the pull to be close to her teammates and give her all in her performance this year has been greater than ever before.

“As a senior, knowing that this is the last time I can ever perform with these people, in this town, and for my studio. ... It really makes every moment priceless. I love every memory I made this year.”

Klarén's plans for next year include going to college to earn a bachelor's degree, majoring in theatre performance and English literature.

“I will never not dance, whether I am performing and jamming out to music in my kitchen,” she said. “I may be leaving the studio, but the studio isn't leaving me. I love dance too much to lose it, and if I have my way I will be dancing forever.”

For someone just starting out in dance, Klarén said she would tell them they are in for a ride.

“Dance is never going to be easy but it will always be wonderful,” she said. “Nothing that comes easy will last and nothing that lasts will come easy. But I promise that every moment you put in will return to you tenfold! So give it your all.”

Her parting words of advice for younger competitors: “Never give up! Yes, some days are hard and you feel like it will never get better. I had those days too. But I kept pushing and kept trying and I have never regretted a moment of it. So don't give up. Not on yourself, or your team, or you studio. Because it will change your life.”

© 2022-Pinedale Roundup