Maitland dance team nabs 12 awards

Team nabs 12 awards

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  • | 6:59 a.m. August 17, 2011
Photo by: Isaac Babcock - Dancers show off some moves at the Colby Dance Studio in Maitland.
Photo by: Isaac Babcock - Dancers show off some moves at the Colby Dance Studio in Maitland.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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As the girls began dancing, the audience went eerily silent.

“It’s incredible to watch them,” mom Ann Henderson said. “The words are powerful; the girls are powerful.”

Draped in delicate lavender costumes with light green sparkles to catch the light, the girls of the Colby Center for Dance in Maitland danced their way to 12 awards at the Candance National Competition, including the National Junior Champions prize, a top honor at the competition. One member of their team, Alex Gagliano, was named National Junior Miss Candance, ranking her as the top dancer aged 12 and younger, out of dancers from all over the U.S. and Canada.

Their winning routine was to an inspirational song called “The Wishing Well,” and the eight-member team mesmerized the audience, said Henderson, whose younger daughter danced that night as her other daughter sat as a proud coach in the audience.

The ideal win

While the Center on Maitland Avenue has won many awards over its 15 years, hearing the team’s name called over and over again was a dream fulfilled.

“That was like a building of excitement,” owner and instructor Jennifer Colby said. “It felt like 14 years of work was coming together, finally.”

Colby said the team’s performance was “stunning” and showed not only artistic beauty, but flexibility, strength and control.

As the wins rolled in, the dancers and coaches jumped up and down, in disbelief over hearing their name — 12 times.

“I hadn’t smiled that much in years,” said Ashley Henderson, who danced for the studio for 13 years before becoming a teacher.

“The reward is overwhelming,” Colby said.

Dancing toward their futures

But for the dancers, this win is more than a $5,000 check. They spend 20 hours a week dancing and spent almost a year on their winning routine. For some, this is their life and dream for the future. They would like to be the backup dancers you see at concerts and in music videos, and the stars gliding across Broadway stages.

This competition was a chance to get their young names out in the dance industry and a step in the door toward a professional career.

“It’s good for our future,” said Kailey Campbell, 14, who attends Winter Park High School.

The benefits of dance

But it’s also good for their present. The dance studio is a place where they can forget about their worries and stress at school, said Alex Gagliano, a Maitland Middle School eighth-grade student.

“If you put on a song, I usually can’t sit still,” said Taylor Gagliano, Alex’s sister. “It just feels right.”

And it’s where all their best friends are. When they aren’t in the studio dancing together, they’re having sleepovers and eating dinner at each other’s houses. The Center is a place for them to create lasting friendships and to learn about life.

“We learn how to be good people and good dancers,” Taylor, a WPHS sophomore, said. “We’re like a family.”

Ann Henderson has seen that first-hand. Her daughter, Ashley, was transformed from a little girl barreling across the stage to a “take your breath away dancer”, and now she’s an enthusiastic teacher.

“It sort of just shapes who you are,” Ann said.

Learn more

The Colby Center for Dance, at 540 S. Maitland Ave., offers classes for serious and casual dancers alike. Visit or call 407-599-5560.


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