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By JANICE BARNIAK
ST. MARYS — The girls at Kristina’s Dance Escape in St. Marys are gearing up for competition season with rehearsals of ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop numbers that they’ll perform all over Ohio and Indiana this spring.
Kristina Blockberger, who has taught dance in St. Marys for 14 years, said the girls audition for spots in the summer on the more serious team.
“I danced all my life and did it competitively,” Blockberger said.
Competing gives the girls a chance to perform more than once a year and for an audience beyond their parents. It’s also more challenging; the girls compete against teams that practice almost every day, whose only extracurricular programs are dance.
“We rehearse hard,” Blockberger said. “The girls know we’re only there one to two days per week. They know they have to give 110 percent.”
What they get is more than a gold or platinum medal, she said. Getting up on stage helps develop self-confidence.
“Dance helped me come out of my shell,” Blockberger said. “I see that with them, too.”
One challenge this year has been the girls having a lot of sickness, which means making up time with the team and playing catch up.
“Our goal is to improve each year,” Blockberger said.
The long-term goal for the team is to attend a nationals, which they’ve never done. As far as the stereotypes about young dancers, and their moms, Blockberger says the girls all watch reality television and hold up the shows as examples of what not to do.
“If you’re talking about Dance Moms, it’s not like that,” she said. “All the moms are there to help out with hair, makeup, costume changing. We just go there, perform, and do our thing. Its a fun thing, a learning experience.”