Four Picayune dancers prepare to perform on a global stage

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2019

Four Picayune dancers are headed to New Jersey to compete in the invite only World Dance Championship in August after winning a golden ticket for their performance at a competition in Biloxi.

Annie Mae Kellar, Aly Klingenberger, Treasure Lacoste and Heidi Wise were dancing together for four years before competing with their contemporary dance routine “Already Gone,” said Kellar. Their dance teacher, Tonya Barnum of Center Stage School of Dance, said the teens’ history of dancing together makes their performance stronger.

“These girls are all different types of kids, but they have one thing in common—their love of dance. They’re a family,” said Barnum. 

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Klingenberger said dance offers her a creative outlet, while Lacoste enjoys the thrill of competition and hearing an audience cheer at the end of a performance. Kellar likes that she can lose herself in a dance routine.

“When you’ve been through so much, you need a rock and this is my rock,” said Kellar.

The dancers began working on the routine in September, but one performer dropped out, so Lacoste stepped in to learn the dance only two weeks before competition, said Kellar.

Despite winning a golden ticket with their routine, the dancers are still making changes and working on bringing even more emotion to their performance. The teens have at least 20 rehearsals scheduled in July, Barnum said. The girls spend at least four nights a week dancing, said Klingenberger. Kellar said she spends around 22 hours a week at the studio.

Through music and movement, the routine tells a story of loss, said Kellar. The dancers told that story well enough to win the ultimate emotion award out of the small group teen division, said Barnum. The $100 cash award went toward their entry fees at the World Dance Championship, said Barnum.

The teens are also fundraising to cover competition and travel costs and will be conducting a can shake by Dolly’s Quick Stop in Kiln on June 29, from 9 a.m. to noon, said Barnum.

The competition will give the dancers a chance to meet performers from all over the country, said Barnum. Competing on a global stage will be a new experience for the teens and the dancers are excited to represent Mississippi, said Kellar.