At right, Delaney Tuttle practices her dance moves at local dance studio Dance âTil U Drop in preparation for todayâs competition.
Post & Mail photo / Christie Barkley
COLUMBIA CITY â The art of dance has seen a swell in interest from increased television shows that feature dancers to the genre of dances now made popular. What was once a dated art is now a thriving form of expression and creativity.
In Columbia City, Dance âTil U Drop is a fine arts academy dedicated to crafting dancers in performance.
Scott Frazier, owner of Dance âTil U Drop, is also the studioâs director. Through his many years in the dance community, Frazier has established a local competition that has now attracted the attention of the Lifetime television series, Dance Moms.
The reality show features dancers with Abby Lee Dance Company out of Pittsburgh. The infamous dance company is in Fort Wayne today to take part in Frazierâs competition event, Xpression.
Xpression has been in existence since 1997 and is an annual event typically held in the spring.
âThrough an associate, I was given the chance to open the competition up to Abby Lee by moving it to the fall,â said Frazier. âThe directors for the show were looking for some variety in the competitions they were filming. This is big for us.â
In fact, Frazierâs studio has shared in the glimmer of the spotlight brought on by the popular television show.
âThe dance community is all a buzz over her and her group coming. Weâve had so many students excited over them being here.â
Frazier said Dance Momsâ popularity has brought a national focus back to dance.
âThis is such a great opportunity for us and for our dancers to interact with other groups. They will get the chance to see them perform. Any time our dancers get to watch other dancers, it is a valuable learning experience for them,â said Frazier.
Dance âTil U Drop has grown as the dance industry continues to pick up momentum. Frazier said having a group with the reputation of Abby Lee Miller competing in the competition reminds the dancers from Frazierâs studio that there is dance beyond the four walls at Dance âTil U Drop, and teaches them that dance is âbigger than just us.â
âWith the growth of dance, there is more attention on us. And with movies about dance, it has energized the industry,â Frazier said. âWeâve always been here,we just havenât been seen in awhile.â
Frazierâs students agree. Riley Coons, 15, Delaney Tuttle, 14 and Madi Cochran, 15 are all students at Dance âTil U Drop. Together the trio has more than 35 years of dance training. These elite dancers will be a part of the troop competing today.
âWe were so excited that we were screaming,âsaid Cochran.
Coons is a fan of the show Dance Moms, so her enthusiasm was expected. The threesome said they are best friends and have âgrown up in dance together.â
Cochran said, âPeople are starting to appreciate dance again. It makes me happy that they are starting to recognize dance as a sport.â
She said being on the dance floor requires a lot of work and the skills the three of them have gained come at the price of sweat, sleep and sometimes pain.
âWe do what we do so that we get better,âsaid Coons. âWe are always bettering ourselves. Sometimes it seems we live here at the studio, but thatâs O.K. because we love to dance and we love working with Scott.â
The youngest of the three, Tuttle, said dance is a way to not only express herself, but build strength.
âDancing makes me feel powerful. There are times when life gets stressful or Iâve had a bad day and I just want to dance. I take it out on the dance floor,â Tuttle said.
Tuttle, Coons and Cochran will join with the other dancers in their group to perform today.
All three dancers are looking forward to the chance to compete, but Cochran said the real reward comes days after the event, when videos are reviewed to observe areas of improvement. âIt gives us something to keep striving for,â she said.
For more information on the Xpression competition, visit www.xpressiondance.com. To learn more about Dance âTil U Drop, visit www.dancetiludrop.com.
The arts academy is located at 655 W. Business 30 in Columbia City and offers various dance classes, music lessons as well as zumba, yoga and martial arts classes.