A CHANCE TO DANCE:Dancer, owner hosts popular television show at competition

COLUMBIA CITY — 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 ‘Til U Drop is a fine arts academy dedicated to crafting dancers in performance. Scott Frazier, owner of Dance ‘Til U Drop, is also the studio’s 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 Frazier’s competition event, Xpression. Xpression has been in existence since 1997 and is an annual event typically held in the spring.“Through an associate, I was given the chance to open the competition up to Abby Lee by moving it to the fall,” said Frazier. “The directors for the show were looking for some variety in the competitions they were filming. This is big for us.”In fact, Frazier’s studio has shared in the glimmer of the spotlight brought on by the popular television show.“The dance community is all a buzz over her and her group coming. We’ve had so many students excited over them being here.”Frazier said Dance Moms’ popularity has brought a national focus back to dance. “This 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,” said Frazier.Dance ‘Til 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 Frazier’s studio that there is dance beyond the four walls at Dance ‘Til U Drop, and teaches them that dance is “bigger than just us.”“With the growth of dance, there is more attention on us. And with movies about dance, it has energized the industry,” Frazier said. “We’ve always been here,we just haven’t been seen in awhile.”Frazier’s students agree. Riley Coons, 15, Delaney Tuttle, 14 and Madi Cochran, 15 are all students at Dance ‘Til 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.“We were so excited that we were screaming,”said Cochran.Coons is a fan of the show Dance Moms, so her enthusiasm was expected. The threesome said they are best friends and have “grown up in dance together.”Cochran said, “People are starting to appreciate dance again. It makes me happy that they are starting to recognize dance as a sport.”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.“We do what we do so that we get better,”said Coons. “We are always bettering ourselves. Sometimes it seems we live here at the studio, but that’s O.K. because we love to dance and we love working with Scott.”The youngest of the three, Tuttle, said dance is a way to not only express herself, but build strength.“Dancing makes me feel powerful. There are times when life gets stressful or I’ve had a bad day and I just want to dance. I take it out on the dance floor,” 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. “It gives us something to keep striving for,” she said.For more information on the Xpression competition, visit www.xpressiondance.com. To learn more about Dance ‘Til 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.