Trio Triumph: Dancers Take on Worlds Dance Competition


Photo courtesy of Khein Media

Ella Winger (12), Kaylene Huynh (12), and Gracie Smith (11) model their Worlds Dance Competition costume for their Buzz Lightyear themed performance. “This year’s dances are so much fun. All of our Pom dances are themed: we are doing Buzz Lightyear, Mario, Harley Davidson, and then lyrical and contemporary,” said Smith.

Mia Tickell, News Editor

Competing with countries from all over the world, dancers senior Ella Winger, senior Kaylene Huynh, and junior Gracie Smith advanced to one of the largest international dance events- Worlds Dance Competition in Orlando, Florida, and earned the second-place award.

At a regional competition this year, representing local dance studio South Coast Freestyle Dance (SCF), the girls were bidded on by sponsors, and invited to compete in the week-long competition. 

“Once you get an invite to Worlds, everyone heads to Florida for the competition. After the first day of competing, you see if you advance to finals. If you make finals, then your team can advance,” said Smith. 

SCF attended Worlds last year, and placed 9th out of all the countries. 

“It was our team’s first time going, and we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t even know if we were going to have a team because it started off with only five people,” said Huynh.  

Upon arriving in Florida, the girls hit the ground running and head straight to the studio. In the days leading up to the competition, their training regimen becomes increasingly demanding, with each day bringing longer and more intense practice sessions.

“As fun as it is, it can be a bit stressful since we have been working towards this since August. We are always picking apart our dances, breaking it up into pieces, and cleaning up every little detail. We learned our routine at the beginning of the year, but by the end of this year, it has changed into something better,” said Winger. “A lot of it has been mental at this point. We just wanted to make ourselves and our coaches proud, and show how far we have come since last year.”

All the dancers resided in a communal home in Florida, leaving no time for idling. Life at the home consisted of numerous team meals and meetings, while reviewing footage of their performances. While the experience was enjoyable, it was also stressful, given their dedicated efforts. Nevertheless, living together during that week allowed them to provide mutual support and camaraderie. 

The competition is steeped in many traditions, which the girls have come to cherish from their past participation. According to the girls, one of the highlights of the experience was the opportunity to meet with teams from various countries. Furthermore, the girls enjoyed exchanging team shirts and pins with fellow competitors, as the trades ranged from items from Mexico to Australia. 

“There’s so much talent from other countries, so it was just an experience in itself to be with other teams,” said Smith. 

The girls’ ultimate objective this year was to return home with both a medal and a globe by placing among the top three teams. Having experienced the competition before, the girls felt much more equipped to tackle this year’s event, knowing what to anticipate.

“I think we were a lot better this year than last. We were much more prepared this year. We know what we needed to bring,” said Hyunh. “Last year was such an amazing experience, but we were so ready to be back.”