An Ahwatukee dance troupe recently took five of seven available grand national titles at the Rainbow Dance Competition in Panama City, Florida.
The Soul Shock Dance Company, part of the Phoenix Dance Cooperative in Ahwatukee, was also a finalist for an Industry Dance Award, which are considered the Oscars for dance.
The Phoenix Dance Cooperative is a structured, not-for-profit organization founded by parents of dancers.
“The driving force behind the organization is to provide high quality dance instruction with a focus on competition as a group, while fostering a loving environment with a strong sense of community,” according to its website.
Some Soul Shock dancers form a contingent in the Ahwatukee Easter Parade.
The prize-winning class consists of about 40 dancers 6 to 17 years old who attend a variety of schools in Ahwatukee and the East Valley, including Desert Vista High and Altadena Middle School, according to choreographer Ambur Towns.
“We have members that have been here since the very beginning of Phoenix Dance Cooperative seven years ago to a couple who just joined the company this year,” she added.
The winning dancers included Maeleigh Merillat, Audrey Colbert, Julia Sim, Halle Kappes, Jada Ballard, Jayla Lindsey, Charlotte Ogello, Joscelin Witten, Ansley Hare, Olivia Figueroa, Maddie Witten, Annika Beck, Tyler Tapia, McKenna Hefta, Emma Gonzalez, Kylee Clinton, Marina Milner, Sofia Jinks, Susie Miller, Kamryn Smith, Sam Romero, Lily Phillips,Alexa Figueroa, Olivia Evans, Kaylee Brown, Alicia McManus, Megan O’Neall, Chloe Stressman, Antoine Olds, Rachel Fortunato, Chloe Creek, Alana Tudor and Skylar Spinelli-Hall.
Rainbow has been called “the competition with a heart” because of its emphasis on “a fair, fun, organized and on-time competition” with a “low-stress environment, unique awards, three levels of competition, and state of the art judging and scoring.”
Townes works with fellow choreographer Antoine Olds and was part of the Sun Devils dance team while she was getting her degree in dance studies at ASU.
She said the girls work an average 20 hours a week between class and rehearsals preparing for the competition.
“We’ve never won this many grand prizes,” she said. “It’s great for the company and shows the girls their hard work paid off.”
Each year, several Rainbow contestants are selected as “All Star Dancers” and receive an invitation to attend the New York City Dance Experience, where they attend master classes, meet and study with the world-famous Rockettes, see Broadway shows and participate in the KAR Dance Convention.
Those invitations have not yet gone out.
Organizers of the competition say, “Nurturing our youth in the competitive field of dance takes effective communication, organization, and a supportive atmosphere. Rainbow has a reputation of creating that positive environment for dancers of all levels.”
Phoenix Dance Cooperative’s studio is at 12020 S Warner Elliot Loop, Ahwatukee. Information: phoenixdancecooperative.com.