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2020 DubStep elite competition team and coaches (from left to right): Adileny Bucio Zambrano, Cklowee Hunter, Keeri Tilton, Head Coach/Director Danette Cariveau, Team Captain Taylor Snyder, Corrin Stevenson, Team Captain Brittney Hitziely Lopez, Coach Cierra Howell, Adrian Snyder, and Team Captain Jayden Elizabeth Carper.

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Sometimes when everything else is crazy in the world, you’ve just got to keep dancing. A local group of teens is doing just that, and recently took their skills to the national level, with many of the participants placing well in the competition.

The Ellensburg-based Dubstep Studio competed in the Kids Artistic Review Nationals Dance Competition from July 13 to July 17, participating in a virtual format due to COVID-19. Team member Brittney Lopez garnered a fifth-runner up title for her first competitive solo performance, while her teammate Taylor Snyder took fourth at Seattle Regionals, facing off against top dancers from around the country.

Snyder, a senior at Ellensburg High School has been involved in community dance programs since seventh grade when she participated on the dance team at Morgan Middle School. Having been involved in mini cheer camps, the experience at Morgan opened doors for Snyder, which inspired her to try the dubstep program after hearing about it. She said the program is open to all skill levels, with the competitive team being at the highest level within the program.

“It’s like a family and a community,” she said. “It’s fun and enjoyable to be around and work with. Having everyone being able and willing to try new things.”

As the competitive team practiced for nationals, the onset of the pandemic had a profound impact on how they ended up competing. Snyder explained that the event was changed from a traditional format to one that was virtual. She said it had an effect on the number of people who were able to compete together as a team, as well as the routines themselves.

Practice for the event was also changed, with no more than 10 teammates being able to gather for rehearsals. Snyder said the virtual format for the competition was a drastic change from the normal way of doing things. She said not being able to have the experience of going to a live performance and having the judges judge and critique the competitors in person was a challenge. Despite the changes, she said it was still worth all the effort and practice they put in.

“Although it felt different, you’re still able to get the judge’s comments and learn from them for next time,” she said.

Snyder said her involvement in dance has helped her develop more confidence to get out and try different things in life as she has gotten older.

“I feel like I’m able to step out and not be afraid to show who I am without feeling judged,” she said.

SENSE OF COMMUNITY

Lopez, an Ellensburg High School Sophomore has been involved in various forms of dance since she was a child, becoming more involved when she was in fifth grade. She joined her current team two years ago. She explained that the program is designed to be inclusive for everyone who wants to participate and learn new techniques. She said the pandemic had an effect on the techniques used during practice such as formation amongst team members.

“We had to make it so we’d dance while we were social distancing,” she said. “It really did make it a little harder, but we ended up figuring it out and I’m so glad we did.”

Along with sectioning the group in practices and modifying routines, Lopez said the virtual competition format had its ups and downs. One benefit she said came from the virtual changes was the ability to refine routines before sending them virtually.

“I knew every single time I could improve,” she said. “What ended up motivating me the most was knowing I could retake it and send the best version of myself in.”

In the end, Lopez said the competition was a great opportunity for the team to bond, helping each other through the challenges of the pandemic-related changes.

“We basically uplift each other,” she said. “My team definitely helped me out, and I have to thank them.”

Lopez said she remains passionate about dance because she has found it is a great way to channel emotions in an artistic way.

“It’s a way to show other people what you’re capable,” she said. “Learning something new every day keeps it interesting and fun.”

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