With a goal of giving their members the opportunity to learn from professional instructors, Dance Express was founded in 1997 by Maria Usher and Carrie Beam. With less than 20 dancers, and high hopes, the first competition team was put together. Using rehearsal space donated by Maria’s School of Dance and performing and competing in Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Hip Hop, DE Members attended their first competition. The dancers ended their first season with Dance Express Recital 1009 with 13 dances.
Growing over the years, the team numbers close to 50 members ages six through eighteen. They audition in early summer, begin rehearsals in the fall. Working through the winter, the competition season begins in February and continues through March. Competing in all levels from Debut to Elite, dancers compete in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Modern, Contemporary, Drama and Singing. DE members attend Hollywood Vibe, Access Broadway and Encore DCS. DE Dancer’s have received Overall Top Scores, Awards for Best Choreography, Most Entertaining, Best Costumes and Best Concept.
Dancers also attend workshops taught by industry professionals. They work in master classes learning the latest choreography and compete for local and national scholarships. DE Dancers have earned many regional workshop scholarships along with Hollywood Vibe’s “Dancer of the Year”. Members have also earned national scholarships to Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, and The Joffrey Ballet in New York, NY. Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio, and Millennium Dance Studio in Los Angeles CA. They end their season with their annual recital late March.
In 2009, Directors of Dance Express applied for and received IRS approval for 501(c)3 non profit status. The team now is able to hold fundraisers and seek local support to continue their dance education. Each year team members and their families hold 50/50 drawings, Sponsor local poker events, have an annual Silent Auction, participate in bottle drives and most recently work at the “Renaissance Festival” to earn funds to help cover their technical training and competition fees.
Former Dance Express Members are following their dreams to continue to study dance in college, and pursue careers on stage. With great pride & a little sadness, we watch our dancers move on the the next step in their dance careers, and hope that we were able to give them to tools to follow their dreams.