Tucson Dance Academy

Tucson Dance Academy instructor Carly Booth leads the girls in a routine she taught them during the ballroom workshop.

J.D. Fitzgerald/The Explorer

Tucson has without a doubt made it known they have one of the top dance programs in the nation. Fifteen dancers from Tucson Dance Academy took center stage at the New York City Dance Alliance where they impressed the judges with their dance performance of “Korbushka” and received the National Junior Critics Choice Award.

With over 100 studios competing from ages seven to 18, NYCDA put on another of its yearly national competitions where the best dancers competed against one another in either solos or group dances. NYCDA is a dance program that trains, inspires and helps dancers reach their highest potential. 

From June 29 to July 6, dancers from all over the nation competed in one or more of the four age group categories of mini, ages 7-10, junior, 10-11, teens 13-15 and seniors, 16-18. Tucson Dance flew 32 dancers to New York and competed in the three youngest categories. This is the third time Tucson Dance has competed in this competition that owner Tammy Booth says gives her dancers more experience but also national recognition.

“They (judges and schools) are noticing our dancers. We’re really making a great reputation to where all these top people know who Tucson Dance is,” said Booth. “The way we train our kids is exactly what colleges want.”

Tucson Dance consists of 400 dancers that practice on the northwest side of Tucson. The studio opened almost five years ago and is owned by Tammy and Tom Booth. Tammy has over 30 years of dancing experience where she has performed in movies, choreographed dances, with professional dance companies and also competed in gymnastics.

The hard work of the Tucson Dance paid off as the junior dance group won the junior division as well as the National Junior Critics Choice Award, which awarded the group with $2,500. Booth is most proud of how far her dancers and Tucson Dance has come. The studio has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time.

“There are some studios that have over 600 dancers and have been around for years. We’ve only been here for five,” said Booth. “We’re doing the right thing. We just don’t have as many kids as other studios but then I’m told, quality over quantity.”

Kali Poole, 14, and sister Payton Poole, 12, both competed for the third time at the competition. Kali has been dancing for 11 years and was invited to go back and be a part of the summer intensive program. It’s a two-week program that teaches all genres of dance and focuses on improving the dancers vocals as well.

“I’d like to take my dancing as far as I possibly can into my future and possibly go professional,” said Kali. “I know it’s really important as a dancer to always be humble no matter what. Just keep working and don’t think that you’re the best.”

As for younger sister Payton, the national competition brought a renewed motivation to work even harder once she returned to Tucson.

“My favorite part was probably seeing the talents of other dancers in the country. I think she (Tammy Booth) has really helped all the dancers really grow and get a lot better,” said Payton.

The dancers have cherished the moment of winning in New York and now have returned home where they will continue to do what the studio has taught best – mastering the foundational techniques of dance.

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