Growing up surrounded by trophies, plaques and awards at Dance Craze studio in Washington, it’s no wonder that Alexis Roberts, 14, of Washington, has excelled in dance.
Recently, Alexis was named Dancer of the Year at the Celebration Talent National Finals in Gatlinburg, Tenn., held July 5-9.
Alexis, who has been dancing for 12 years, is the daughter of Sherri and Steve Roberts, who own Dance Craze. She will be a freshman at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School this fall. She graduated from Washington Middle School this past May.
To advance to the finals at the national competition, Alexis first had to be selected as a dancer of the year finalist at the regional Celebration Talent competition held in St. Louis in May.
At the national finals, Alexis won a platinum award and category award for two solo performances. To earn a category award, she had to earn the highest points in the category. She performed both a contemporary and jazz solo in the teen senior division.
Alexis was named the overall highest teen senior soloist winner. She won a trophy and a cash prize for the overall soloist winner and for the dancer of the year.
Dancer of the Year
At the beginning of the competition week, contestants take classes where they are judged on how well they perform, work ethic, technique, how they retain choreography and other categories, Sherri Roberts explained. Judging from those classes is part of the dancer of the year competition.
There are two days of convention classes, then the top five finalists perform solos for dancer of the year.
Alexis won a banner, trophy, tiara and cash prize for dancer of the year. She also won a scholarship through an audition class at the competition. The scholarship will pay her entry fees for the 2013 regional competition.
“I wasn’t expecting to win because there were a lot of amazing dancers there,” Alexis said. “I became close friends with (some of the dancers) who helped me through it and explained how the process would go. From there I just tried my hardest.”
Sherri said she’s proud of her daughter though sometimes it’s hard being a teacher and a mom.
“You don’t always get to step back and enjoy it as a parent,” she said. “But when she was in Tennessee and she did that final performance for the dancer of the year, I couldn’t help it, but I just broke down. It truly was her best moment that I’ve ever seen her dance, not just technically, but emotionally too. She took my breath away.”
Going to the national competition was on a whim, Sherri said.
“We didn’t have a real vacation scheduled,” she said, and Alexis didn’t have high school cheerleading practice the week of the competition. Since Alexis had qualified for the competition they made the decision to go. It happened to be the last day to register.
Asked what her hobbies are, Alexis said she enjoys swimming and spending time with friends. She joked that in her spare time she “sleeps.” She doesn’t have much spare time, but said dance is worth sacrificing other things.
Alexis doesn’t only excel on the dance floor. She is a straight A student and was in the challenge (gifted) program through elementary and middle school.
Alexis said her ultimate goal is to become a professional dancer and be involved in the industry. After high school, she wants to attend college in Los Angeles, though she’s not sure which school yet.
For now, she is content being a part of the Starry Knights Dance Team at SFBRHS, as well as a varsity cheerleader, both of which are uncommon for a freshmen.
This summer, she competed in the cheerleading regionals with the team. She is one of two freshmen to make the varsity team.
Usually, she practices cheerleading from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, as well as two hours per day Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for Starry Knights. She also manages to take weekly dance classes and teach classes.
She also is a member of the competition dance team at Dance Craze.
Before school has even started, Alexis qualified as a Universal Dance Association (UDA) All American at Starry Knights Dance Camp. She was invited to dance in London on New Year’s Day, but because she is a freshman and due to her busy schedule, she will not attend. Only 10th through 12th grade students can go to London to dance.
It’s rare for a freshman to qualify as a UDA All American, Sherri Roberts said.
“My favorite part of performing is when I get to perform in front of everyone else and show them how much I love dancing through my emotions,” she said. Her favorite styles are jazz, contemporary and hip hop.
Alexis also attends dance classes in St. Louis to get more experience with various teachers and on different styles. She took classes from Catherine McCormick in Indianapolis this year. McCormick is the lead star in Step Up Revolution 4 who has been on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
“I was really inspired by her,” she said.
Alexis also had the opportunity to meet dancer Chelsea Hightower at the Indianapolis event.
The Roberts have owned Dance Craze for 23 years. Sherri has been teaching classes since she was 14.
Following closely behind her is Alexis, who already teaches classes at the studio. She teaches hip hop and assists children in dance and tumbling classes. Alexis teaches children ages 5 to 12 in various classes.