Mikayla Boccalon, Kristen Kelly, Kailey Leemet, Caitlynn Long and sisters Kassidy and Kennedy Johnston are getting their tap shoes ready to represent Canada on the international stage.
The Rythum Plus Dance Company students have been chosen as members of the Canadian National Dance Team and will be showcasing their skills at the International Dance Organization’s (IDO) World Tap Dance Championships Dec. 3 to Dec. 7 in Germany. Boccalon, Kelly, Leemet and Long will tap for the adult team, while Kassidy and Kennedy will put on their shoes for the children’s team.
Dance company student Matthew Scott also has been selected as a member of the national dance team and will be showcasing his talents at the IDO World Hip Hop, Electric Boogie and Break Dance Championships Oct. 16 to Oct. 20 in Denmark, where he will compete for the adult team.
“It’s exciting, but it’s also a little nerve-wracking,” Boccalon said of the opportunity. “It’s an honour to represent Canada. It’s like the dance Olympics, so it’s a big deal and we really want to do our country proud.”
There were two auditions for the Canadian National Dance Team in Waterloo. All dancers had to learn a tap combination and showcase different technical elements as part of their audition.
Boccalon and Leemet auditioned in May and received their invitation to join the team shortly after. Kelly, Long, Kassidy and Kennedy tried out in July. Kelly and Long beat out several other contenders vying for the last two spots on the adult team.
Kelly said the dancers have been in preparation mode ever since.
“We practise on Sundays,” she said. “The adult team goes for five hours and the children’s team goes for three hours and that’s where we learn all of the choreography and so on. We still have a lot of preparation to do.”
“We’re going to be competing against tap dancers and teams from all over the world, including Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, the U.S. and many more,” Leemet added. “Canada usually does really well. We hope to contribute in a big way and live up to the expectation.”
Company tap dance teacher Tiffani Kretz said she’s “extremely proud” of Boccalon, Kelly, Leemet, Long, Kassidy and Kennedy.
“Some have thought of tap as being a dying art form and this just proves that it is still very important and valuable in the dance world. As a former member of the national team, I am very excited for them to experience the amazing talent and atmosphere that I was able to be a part of; it will be a part of their lives they will never forget,” she said. “Being able to represent Canada on an international stage will allow them to grow as dancers and to share their love of dance with other dancers from around the world. They can take pride in representing their country and experience an event that not many people get the opportunity to do at their ages.”
Boccalon, Kelly, Leemet, Long, Kassidy and Kennedy already have found success on the stage this year.
Boccalon, Kelly, Leemet and Long competed in duets, groups and solos at the Showstoppers Dance Championships this summer in Myrtle Beach and placed in the top three of their categories for all of their tap routines.
Kassidy and Kennedy’s acro duet earned them a second place overall at the event. Kassidy also scored a second place for her acro solo.
Long said being selected as a member of the Canadian National Dance Team is a good confidence booster.
“Getting accepted onto a team like this is such an honour,” she said. “It reassures you that your dedication and hard work is paying off. That’s a great feeling.”
Kassidy and Kennedy agreed hard work is the key to success for any event.
“I think it’s really important to practise every day, so that you can get better and better,” Kassidy said.
“I think it’s very important to always do and try your best too,” added Kennedy. “That way, no matter what happens, you can be happy with how you do. I hope we all do well at the upcoming championships.”
Rythum Plus Dance Company is holding a fundraiser in support of Mikayla Boccalon, Kristen Kelly, Kailey Leemet, Caitlynn Long, Kassidy and Kennedy Johnston’s trip to the IDO World Tap Dance Championships. The event will take place on Friday, Oct. 11, beginning at 8 p.m., at the Powerhouse, 21 Jones Rd. It will feature appetizers, a live band, raffle and 50/50 draw. Tickets are $15 each or two for $25. For more information on the fundraiser or how to contribute to the event, contact the dance company at 905-643-8880.