Orange Bowl Bound

By Beacon Staff

Right now, they’re dancing in a yellow hut. In January, they’ll be dancing in the Orange Bowl.

Three months ago, a representative working for the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl called to extend an invitation to the competitive team from Kalispell’s Dream Dancers Dance Studio to perform at halftime of the famous football game. Studio director Heidi Lamoreaux discussed the scheduling and costs of the trip with parents. Then in June, Lamoreaux confirmed with the Orange Bowl committee that her team would be making the trip on Jan. 2-6.

The game is scheduled on Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. EST. Lamoreaux said the committee told her this is the first time a competitive dance team from Montana has ever been invited to dance at the prestigious bowl game.

“We want to make the whole state proud,” Lamoreaux said.

While the bowl is certainly a highlight for the nine girls and two boys on the team, it doesn’t seem to be the trip’s crowning moment. That distinction belongs to the workshops in which the dancers will participate. The workshops are taught by some of the biggest names in choreography, including Shane Sparks, perhaps best known for his role in the television show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Other highly regarded choreographers will be teaching classes as well. Along with the Dream Dancers crew, there will be kids from around the country partaking in the week’s extracurricular activities and dancing in a large choreographed show at halftime of the game.

Irie Long, a 12-year-old at Kalispell Middle School, is giddy about her encounter with Sparks.

“I can’t wait,” Long said.

Lamoreaux has owned and operated Dream Dancers Dance Studio, which recently moved into a yellow hut on Kelley Road, for the past 15 years. She started out with 16 students. Today she has more than 100, though most are regular students not on the competitive team. While competitive dancing is growing rapidly across the country, Lamoreaux said, there are few teams in Montana and no others she knows of in the Flathead.

The competitive team travels to workshops and competitions around the state and in Spokane. Each year, Lamoreaux said the team also qualifies for nationals, which used to be held in Las Vegas but now is held at Disneyland.

The team performs in the categories of tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, ballet and tumbling. The girls do it all, but the boys usually stick solely to hip-hop and tumbling, Lamoreaux said. Their ages range from 9 to 21.

In the spring, the team won a host of awards at the Spokane Spotlight, a large event that draws teams from around the Northwest and Canada. The tap team won a four-foot-tall trophy, which Lamoreaux said was “as tall as some of the girls.”

Following the strong performance at Spotlight, event officials there, as well as other dance instructors, nominated the Dream Dancers team for the Orange Bowl. A committee then reviewed the team’s qualifications before offering the formal invitation.

Lamoreaux said she won’t know what songs her team is to perform at the Orange Bowl until three weeks before they have to go to Florida. She said it’s the result of choreographer Cris Judd’s busy schedule. Judd is a noted choreographer and the ex-husband of Jennifer Lopez. Lamoreaux said her team will dance to two songs, but that’s about all she knows.

Long, who gets nervous at all big competitions and shows, said she’ll have to pump herself up for the big performance.

“That’s going to be a little more nerve-racking,” she said. “It’s on TV at a big football game.”

Right now, the team is working tirelessly to raise money for the trip, as well as practicing three hours a week. The practice schedule ramps up considerably during the school year, Lamoreaux said.

As part of the Orange Bowl package, each dancer must raise $1,000, which will pay for the choreographer classes, tickets to the football game, costumes for the show and hotels. They are required by the Orange Bowl committee to prove they are making progress on fundraising well before January. The kids, parents and Lamoreaux are responsible for their own airfare.

“We’re like a family,” Lamoreaux said. “I love all of them and for them to have this opportunity is amazing.”

To learn more about Dream Dancers Dance Studio or about how you can help raise funds for the trip, call Heidi Lamoreaux at (406) 253-8847 or (406) 752-3262.

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