EAST MANATEE — Kelsey George stepped onto the dance floor for the first time eight years ago, and it changed her life forever.
She wasn’t enrolled in classes at the time, but that didn’t stop the energetic youngster from following along to the dance teacher’s instructions from her spot in the back corner of the room. From that point on, George, who will be a senior at Lakewood Ranch High this fall, was hooked.
Her mother quickly signed her up for classes, and the 16-year-old has been dancing ever since.
“It’s just very expressive,” George said of dancing. “It can be funny or sad or troubled in lyrical or contemporary. I like hip hop the best though, because it’s fun and energetic.”
After dancing briefly with Lakewood’s dance team, the Silver Stars, George began looking for a new challenge. Two years ago, one of her teammates approached her about joining KC and the Sunshine Dancers, a competitive all-star dance team. George decided to try out for the team and has been a member of KC and the Sunshine Dancers ever since.
“It’s a competitive team made up of girls who love to dance and commit their lives to KC pretty much,” George said. “We’re always having fun, and we’re the best in town.”
Last month, KC and the Sunshine Dancers finished its most successful competition season, earning a first-place double-platinum award and the highest score award for their jazz routine at the Showstoppers competition in Lakeland. It was the first time the team had ever received a double-platinum award, which is the highest award attainable. The routine also received the second highest score out of more than 150 entries in the competition.
“It was the first time we did the dance, and it went so much better than we could’ve (expected),” George said.
The award-winning performance wasn’t a typical jazz routine. Instead the girls came out dressed from head to toe in black with mascara running down their faces and danced to the song “Life is Beautiful” by Sixx: A.M.
The girls finished their powerful routine by slamming featured dancer Jennifer Gerber back into her coffin.
“I think it was so successful because it was completely different than anything that took the stage — it’s kind of creepy,” said Kristina Castner, founder and coach of KC and the Sunshine Dancers. “When they were done the whole audience gave a standing ovation. We’ve never had that type of reaction before.”
In addition, the team also received several other awards this year, including four first-place platinum awards and a first-place high gold award for its jazz and hip-hop routines. The team also was named the Senior Challenge Champion first-place runner-up for its hip hop routine at the International Dance Challenge in Tampa.
“Rather than just a dance … I try to bring a storyline to it through music, costuming, choreography, technique and a few surprises along the way,” said Castner, who graduated from Lakewood in 2004. “I just want each routine to stand out, so that people remember it after watching 200 routines.”
Founded in 2005, KC and the Sunshine Dancers is a competitive all-star dance team specializing in hip-hop, lyrical, jazz and contemporary dances, among others. The team is open to girls and boys in middle school, high school and college and members are selected each year through a competitive tryout process based on their ability.
The team began training for the season this month at Freestyle Creative Dance Studio, 11255 U.S. Highway 301 North, Suite 103, Parrish. KC and the Sunshine Dancers compete in five competitions across the state from February through May.
For more information, visit the team’s Web site at www.myspace.com/kcandthesunshinedancers or contact Kristina Castner at Caster21[email protected].
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].
2009-10 KC and the Sunshine Dancers