A dance group from Gander got the education of a lifetime recently when they headed to the United States for a prestigious convention.
The Tremaine Dance Convention and Competition gives dancers from around the world the chance to work with top instructors and get a taste of what it takes to perform at the highest level.
Earlier this summer, the senior dance troupe from the Gander Dance Studio headed to New York City for their chance to take part in the 2019 version of the Tremaine convention.
They spent three days learning from top flight instructors and practicing what they were taught across five hours a day.
Each of those hours was spent learning a routine from a different style of dance. They got their taste of ballroom, jazz and a number of other schools of performance.
“Some (instructors) taught way faster than we were used to,” said 16-year-old Ally Reid of Gander. “We eventually caught up and picked up the choreography.
“We were really looking forward to the convention.”
Reid got her start in dance as six-year-old when she chased her old sister into the studio for the first time.
A couple of years later, her sister moved on from dancing but not Reid. She stuck with it and has begun to excel.
“I really enjoyed dancing a lot,” she said.
The only Canadians at the convention, the Gander troupe made sure they represented their roots during the competition portion of their trip.
They performed a Celtic step-dance routine and garnered them a first place award.
The group also got a private session in Broadway with a cast member from Aladdin. The group learned how much work goes into putting together a production at that level.
“We had meetings with professionals and they gave us tips on the experience and how to get into those jobs,” said Jocelyn Ralph.
A 14-year-old from Gander, Ralph started dancing when she was six years old after following some of her friends into the art.
She came to enjoy it and over the last several years, she’s made some of her best friends through dance.
“I really liked the experience and it's nice to express your differently than just using words,” said Ralph.
The local dance troupe also got the chance to learn from famed dancers and choreographers Derek Hough and Paula Abdul.
Interestingly, those two instructors created a celebrity divide between the Gander dancers and their parents.
The dancers, of course, were familiar with 34-year-old American Derek Hough and his work on the mega-popular television show Dancing with the Stars.
Abdul, on the other hand, resonated with the dancer’s parents having rose to prominence in the late 80s as a choreographer and pop star.
“That was cool,” said Reid. “(Paula Abdul) was almost a bigger celebrity for our parents than for us.”