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Elite Dance Force gives dancers opportunities to shine

| April 5, 2022
Miss Jennifer’s Dance Studio gives dancers a variety of choices in not only classes to take, but also how often they’d like to perform.
“For some kids dance is their main activity,” studio owner Jennifer Nelson said. “We have our recital, and it’s wonderful, but it’s only a once-a-year chance to perform on stage. Some kids need more motivation and competition to look forward to and work toward. Athletes don’t just train for one game or tournament. Dancers are athletes too.”
To assist those who want more opportunities to work on their skills and perform, Nelson created the Elite Dance Force, which is in its 17th year.
“It’s a competition team, but it’s not just about competing or winning,” she said. “It’s more about having the opportunity to dance.”
The dancers range in age from 4-18, and there is a range of commitment levels.
“Some just do one routine and come once a week to the studio, and we have another handful who train and compete a lot more,” Nelson said.
Their competitions are all in Ohio and can mostly be day trips for families. However, they also have had the opportunity to perform at Disney.
“We are planning our seventh trip there for this November,” Nelson said. “It’s completely optional. I believe we have 17 dancers going on the trip this time. It’s not really a competition. It’s a performance. We rework a routine with the group who is going, and they get to perform on an outdoor stage. It’s a great experience for the girls to see the backstage working of Disney.”
Routines also have been performed at Cleveland Cavaliers, OSU basketball and local high school basketball games.
“Those are really fun,” Nelson said. “I’m hoping we will get to do them again next year, now that the pandemic has calmed down.”
Another special part of the group is the Big Sis Little Sis program.
“Basically, we see how many dancers we have and split them in half and pair them up with a mentor,” Nelson said. “The older ones are role models for the younger ones. We do Christmas gift exchanges, and they support each other. It’s a great way to bond the team.”
Harper Timmons, 12, loves competing with the other Elite dancers.
“I get to spend time with my best friends,” she said. “They are like family to me. Our dance teacher Jennifer Nelson is the sweetest person/dance teacher ever. It’s really exciting when you get out there on stage and dance. I get nervous at first, but right when I hit that stage, I have so much fun, and all my emotions and happiness go right on that stage. We get a little/big sis every year, and it just makes you have someone that you can always count on.”
Adley Brown, 7, agreed Nelson is a very nice dance teacher.
“I like to go on stage with my friends and win pins and trophies,” Brown said. “Miss Jennifer always makes sure we know where to go to find the stage.”
Auditions for the Elite Dance Force are held in the summer. Nelson tries to keep them fun and low key.
“For me auditions are about showing they have the self-confidence to try out for the team,” she said. “It’s more of a placement program for us to see what routines the girls are most suited for. We teach them everything at the audition that we want to see. An instructor will come in and teach them, and then they do everything in groups of three to four dancers. They don’t have to perform solo. We keep it fun. We just want to see if they are ready to be on stage and perform in front of a group.”
This year’s Elite Dance Force has 56 competition routines. One of the group routines is a production number that is seven to eight minutes long and includes 62 dancers.
“We are known for this around the area,” Nelson said. “It’s like a little miniature musical theater story. We’ve done the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Cinderella.’ This year it’s ‘Neverland,’ the story of Peter Pan. I’d hoped the dancers would buy into it since it’s an older Disney classic. They’ve loved it, and it’s been really fun.”
The public will have the opportunity to watch the Elite Dance Force perform on Sunday, June 5 at 7 p.m. at Coshocton High School during the Elite Spectacular.
“It’s the one time we do all of our competition routines locally,” Nelson said. “I encourage people to come watch and support the girls. They are athletes who work hard from September to April for competitions. It’s a long season, and they train really hard for it.”
For more information on the Elite Dance Force, email Nelson at [email protected]. Auditions to join next year’s group are scheduled for Thursday, June 30.
“I love to dance,” said Laynee Lowe, 16. “It’s exciting to travel, spending time with our dance families and friends, the hotel stays, and the time my mom and I get to spend together. We get to show what we’ve practiced so hard for and express ourselves on stage. I love Jennifer. She is just like a second mom to us all.”

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Category: Sports, Youth

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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