The competitive dance team at Rogersville’s The Dance Barre has been chosen to perform on a Carnival Cruise to Cozumel, Mexico from July 16 through 20.

The 18-member team recently began its fifth year and has competed in various venues around the country within the last two years. Currently, the team members range in age from 4 to 18.

Latoya Wilson, owner and director of the Dance Barre, told the Review that one of the main goals for the competitive team was to dance either at Disney or on a Carnival ship.

After lots of hard work, Wilson and the competitive team turned that goal into a reality.

The competition process

Wilson told the Review that, in order to perform on a Carnival Cruise ship, a dance team must have a very strong resume and send in videos of their past performances for judges to view.

“You have to send in your credentials showing that you are established and will be able to entertain,” Wilson said. “If you win titles in national competitions, that’s what they’re looking for. You can’t just be any dance studio and decide to come perform.”

Every year, Wilson’s competitive dance team participates in several regional competitions in towns such as Knoxville and Sevierville. They have also participated in national competitions in Virginia, Florida and South Carolina.

Wilson and her team sent in their application last year, but she explained that it can sometimes take years to hear anything back.

However, Wilson got the call in October inviting the team to compete on the ship.

“We weren’t expecting to get the call so quickly,” she said. “We’re so excited—that’s why we want to tell the world. It’s an honor, and we’re excited to represent our small town. We know other dance studios who have been through the application process, and some of them still have not been invited.”

Preparing for the cruise

In order to prepare for the cruise, the team is also taking their practice sessions to the next level.

In order to even be considered for the competitive team, Wilson explained that dancers must have taken classes in at least three different styles of dance. In addition to these classes, dancers must also take competition classes.

They also regularly practice nearly seven days a week.

“We’re here on Saturdays, some Sundays and even Friday nights,” Wilson said. “Even tonight (Thursday), a big group of them will be at the studio until around 9:00 or 9:30 p.m. But, they love it, and they have worked very hard towards this goal.”

When on the ship, the team will perform numbers from the Dance Barre’s full-studio spring recital, which is titled “Viva Las Vegas,” as well as other contemporary, hip-hop and lyrical pieces with a Las Vegas theme.

This practice will also keep the dancers quite busy during their summer break from school, as Wilson explained that the team will continue to practice nearly every day until they depart for the cruise.

“Our dance season usually runs from August to May like a school schedule, so, instead of them getting that break this year, we’re going to continue on,” Wilson said.

Performing with Carnival’s best

Though the cruise will last for five days, the team will only have to perform two nights, so they will also have some free time to enjoy the trip.

During one of these performances, team members will even get to dance alongside some of the professional Carnival performers.

Fundraising

Wilson told the Review that, though the team was officially chosen in October, they were unsure if they would be able to accept the offer at first, as the team members are responsible for the cost of traveling to Mobile, Alabama to board the ship.

“We all decided just now that we’re going to be able to do it,” Wilson said. “We’re fundraising like crazy right now.”

One of their annual fundraisers, the Enchanted Princess Tea Party, is actually coming up on Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The event will be held at Rogersville’s Occasions on the Square.

For more information on this or other fundraisers, check out the Dance Barre’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DanceBarre/. To reserve tickets to the event, call (423)-923-7077 or email dancebarre13@yahoo.com.

The Dance Barre is located at 119 South Depot Street in Rogersville and is in its seventh dance season. They currently have 100 dance students, including those on the competitive team. In addition to competitive dancing, they offer classes in tap, ballet, clogging, hip-hop and lyrical dance.