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Dancers win national recognition; DFy Studio transitions into dance company with new name

DFy Project, a dance company from Dickinson, came home with multiple awards during  DX Events -- a national dance competition June 14-17 at Brainerd, Minn.

The dancers competed under the name DFy Studio, which has just changed its name to fit its mission, said DFy Project owner  Nikki St. John.

Explaining the name change, St. John said, “Essentially a studio offers classes of what we call recreational -- we are no longer offering these classes in Dickinson. A company is for children who are wanting a competitive style in dance.”

Referencing the competition, St. John said, “We took home five championships and one national championship and numerous other awards that Dickinson should be so proud of. We were the mostly highly decorated studio there, competing with major studios out of Minneapolis.”

The competition concluded the dance season that started last fall.

“It shows a lot of stamma, not just physical, but mental stamma,” she said. “Every time you do a performance its supposed to be bigger and better.”

The judges said  the dancers were very well rounded.

“Now days, dancers are very specialized in one or two styles, but we’re still doing them all,” St. John said.

The dancers are taking a break until after the Fourth of July -- at that point the transition to a company will be made, she said.

DFy Project will offer a “feeder” program for students who may be interested in competition, but who are not yet ready.

“We’ll offer pre-competitive classes -- they will be working toward a goal to become competitive,” St. John  said. Usually kids by the time they are 6 to 8 years old, know this is what they love. We say dance is their life.”

Awards summary

Forty-two routines out of the season’s 51 total routines were taken to nationals, ranging from jazz, hip hop, contemporary, musical theatre, lyrical and open styles of dance and consisted of large and small groups, solos, duos and trios.

“All of the 42 routines received placements of first, platinum firsts and several ‘platinum elite’ first placements, which means they were within 10 points of a perfect score,” said St. John. “DFy Studio also received placements in the top 10 and top 15 overall awards.”

Special awards included:

* DFy Studio had the most pieces/dances of all the studios that attended nationals, receiving the honor of partaking in the Finals Extreme Dance Challenge that took place June 17.

“These five groups were already awarded first  place overall in their division, which made them candidates for the finals on Sunday,” St. John said. The five numbers were:  “Love on the Brain,” small group contemporary; “Queen B,” a small group jazz; “Who’s in Charge of the Girls,” a small group hip hop; Uptown Funk,” a large group hip hop;  and he studio production of “Today’s the Day.”

* “Extreme Dance Off Champions, “Who’s in Charge of the Girls, which is a small group hip hop dance.

* Best of the Best Award, highest scoring routine in its category, “The Space Between,” which is a lyrical duo.

* Grand Champion Dances” went to a small group jazz dance “Queen B,” lyrical duet of “The Space Between,” contemporary solo “Breathe,” hip hop duo of “Man Down, large group hip hop of “Uptown Funk,”  hip hop duo “Perm,” lyrical duo of “Footprints in the Sand” and contemporary small group of “Love on the Brain.”

* “The ONE” National Dance Finals (a four-city event of the best of the best to be crowned “The One” in each division, is a prestigious award unlike any other, as it is only give out to the best in each division at participating events and can only come from a first-place overall award or be chosen via the judges and the regional directors to qualify. DFy Studio received eight bids to attend “The ONE” of their choice -- four of which are paid bids, meaning they received top honors and will  have their fees paid for.

“We have chosen Orlando, Fla., and will be attending in April of 2019,” St. John said. “The routines chosen for this prestigious honor were “Queen B,” Love on the Brain,” “Who’s in Charge of the Girls,” “Uptown Funk,” Today’s the Day,” “Look What You Made Me Do, “B Humble”and Halo.”

* The “People’s Choice Award” went to the hip hop large group of “B Humble.”

* “Future Stars Judges Choice Award” went to the small group jazz of “Diva.”

* “Junior All American Scholarship Award” for the Junior Division went to Danica Mindt.

* Academic Excellence Achievement Award” went to DFy Studio for an overall GPA of 3.71 from all dancers attending nationals.

Kale Warner

One of St. John’s students, Kale Warner, 12, has been invited to participate in the Hollywood Summer Tour in Los Angeles  July 22-29. Hannah Hoff from South Heart also was invited to attend, but she is unable to participate. Their invitations were based on performances at regionals.

“Kale and Hannah are the fourth and fifth dancers from my studio who got the award. Previously, Carter and Sydney Dolyniuk were also offered the awards,” she said. “The children who have been selected are given a week’s work of what life is like in Hollywood -- how to interview, how to win the judges over --  teaching them ropes of how how to write a dance resume.”

St. John will accompany Kale, applying the Summer Tour training to the DFy Project. She is one of four partners based in Bismarck-Mandan area.

“This allows children to work with three other professionals beside just me,” she said. “I also teach part time at Let’s Dance Studio in Bismarck.”

DFy Project in Dickinson has four student teachers and an associate director, Deb Jarrett.