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After the Starpower National Dance Competition, 12 to 14 small group National Champion Willimania members Cali Culpepper, 12, left, Emory LaBerge, 11, Amelia Gordon, 11, Jessi Duncan, 12, and Lorelei McClellan, 11, pose with their awards. 

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Ansley Jarrett, 4, of Benton, front left, Adyn Course, 5, Lainey Martin, 8; second row, Ava Black, 10, Lakin Knight, 8, Ava Vaughn, 5, Kaylee Hampton 6, Calley Rose, 8, Malley Long, 6; Lily Vaughn, 8; back row, Amelia Lisowe, 8, Anslee Hobby, 10, Abrielle Robison, 10, and Nyla Newton, 10, show off their trophies from the National Dance Competition. 

 Twenty-eight dancers from the Arkansas Dance Center company team, led by Brooke Finley and Karissa McDonald, competed at the Starpower National Dance Competition in Branson, Missouri last week. 

The group brought home seven first National Championship titles, including 8 and under solo, Amelia Lisowe, 8, of Benton; 9 to 11 solo, Abrielle Robison, 10, of Benton; 12 to 14 solo, Skylair Black, 14, of Cabot; 9 to 11 duet/trio, Emory LaBerge, 11, Amelia Gordon, 11, and Jessi Duncan, 11; 15 to 18 novice duet/trio, Raylee Wallace 16, and Austyn McKenzie 16; 15 to 18 intermediate duet/trio, Payton Lee, 16, and Alyssa Sawyer, 18; and 12 to 14 small group Willimania.

The group finished with 20 other top 10 placements for soloists, duo/trios and large and small groups. It also won an overall entertainment award for the production number, "Evolution of Britney."

"Dream," choreographed by McDonald, the group's teacher and choreographer, received an invitation to compete at the Battle of the Stars. The Battle allows intermediate and advanced groups to be selected to re-compete for the Premier Cup. Dream placed fourth at the Battle of the Stars in the 12 and up age division.

Three dancers, Robison, Lisowe and Black, received $1,000 scholarships from the judges to attend the National Discovery Spotlight event, a four-day model and talent expo in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, held in November 2019.

Members also took home judges award. They received the energy plus award for "Hey Lil Mama" duet, the lil diva for Lainey Martin's solo, the beautiful connection award for The Chain trio and the crystal clear taps award for the Cali Culpepper solo.  

Members of the team competed at regional events from February through May to qualify for a spot at the national competition.

“These girls put in a lot of time and hard work into dance every week," McDonald said. "The biggest reward is seeing the looks on their faces when their name gets called on stage.”

"Arkansas Dance Center is a studio for every dancer," Finley added. "We offer a variety of classes for all levels ages 2 to 18 years, but it is always a privilege to have students who wish to take more classes and compete regionally and nationally. 

"This year, our ADC company dancers really came together as a team and excelled in the classroom, as well as in their stage performances. We could not be more proud of the progress they have made individually and as a whole. Awards are nice and winning is a great feeling, but the best thing about it is mentoring these students and making a positive impact on their lives.”

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