By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The city of Millington was on the national stage earlier this month in the Stephens Auditorium.
Behind the leadership of Bing Osterman, Lindsay Ringer and Mandy Hedstron, the Millington School of Dance racked up several Platinum and High Gold awards July 9-12 at the 2015 BravO! National Dance & Talent Competition.
The highlight of the Millington School of Dance’s stay in Ames, Iowa was winning the Spirit Award among all the teams represented from across the United States.
“The award we’re most proud of is the Spirit Award they give out at the Grand Nationals,” Osterman said. “They give it out to one studio and the trophy is as big as the trophies they give out to the Grand National champions. The competition feels it’s just as important as dance ability.”
The girls from Millington were voted the best example of sportsmanship and character at the event.
“Our kids are taught to encourage each other at all times,” Osterman said. “We also encourage others in the competition. Whenever a group gets off stage, we there telling them, ‘Great job.’ We always tell teams about to go on stage, ‘Good luck.’
“We have a team chant that we do to rally the kids before we dance,” she continued. “And during award ceremonies, we clap and cheer for every award winner on stage, not just ours. These award ceremonies can be two-hours long and they’re still up there clapping.”
The MSOD members applaud their peers and teammates during the award ceremony. The trio of Rachel Hightower, Emily Saigeon and Katie Vandervort received super second overall for in its age group and level.
MSOD also had production number featuring every member in the ensemble ages 8 to 18. It won first overall platinum and the girls were asked to come back on the last day to compete in the grand national championship.
The success in Iowa was rewarding for the choreographers and students at Millington School of Dance which opened in 2007.
“It was the culmination of everything we’ve worked for,” Osterman said. “When I opened this school, I named Millington School of Dance because I wanted Millington to have it’s own. I wanted this to belong to Millington. I wanted to build something the children could invest themselves in creativity, emotionally and physically.
“I wanted them to have something to be so proud in, that this is their home-grown studio,” she added. “This is where they come from and they should be proud.”
Osterman and staff work with their students to make sure they put on performances the community, parents and the children can be proud of. The girls learn to respect their growing bodies and themselves as people. The instructors also noted they don’t perform certain movements on stage or to inappropriate music.
“We want to be artist and express ourselves to the fullest of our abilities,” Osterman said.
Osterman said she hopes this national recognition is the start of more success for the Millington School of Dance.
“As dancers we’ve always got more work to do,” she said. “It’s a grueling form of sport and artistry, so we’ve always have more work to do. We have a lot to live up to, to make our school proud of us.
“We’re not a competition team with a dance school,” Osterman continued. “We’re a dance school with a competition team. So it’s important that the 3-year-olds who are watching the big girls have something to look forward to and inspire to as they grow and learn throughout the years.”
Osterman added the city of Millington is a huge part of the success of the Millington School of Dance.
“We carry Millington’s name with us,” she concluded. “This is not just about you, it’s about your community and your home. The way you carry yourself on and off that stage tell people a lot about who we are. They do a great job of that. And we’re extremely proud of them.”
The 2014-2015 Millington School of Dance Competitive Ensemble members are Emily Langford, Hannah Seaton, Lexi Hood, Hanna Cooper, Brennley Blalock, Hannah Taylor, Emily Willis, Emily Landis, Sara Cooper, Sarah Bosworth, Auston Canada, Sarah Moschitta, Emily Moschitta, Tempe Miller, Abby Carlisle, Emma Buchannan, MaryKate Hogan, Madelyn Hogan, Emily Saigeon, Rachel Hightower, Corbin Michael, Elliott Michael, Lily Johnson, Katie Vandervort, Taylor Bryson, Adelyn Barton and Lauren Kate Mayse.
The Millington School of Dance is located at 7911 C Street in Millington. For more information, call 590-9334.