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Elite dancers from Marshall school dominate at national event

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
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Sixty-five dancers from the Elite Dance by Damian studio in Marshall brought home more than titles and trophies from the Showbiz National Talent competition in Virginia Beach, Va., They also collected $11,000 in prize money.
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Julia Lotz, 18, of Cranberry Township, during the 'Solo Showdown' at nationals in Virginia Beach.

Students from Elite Dance by Damian, a dance school in Marshall Township, hauled home more than titles and trophies from the recent Showbiz National Talent Competition in Virginia Beach.

They also collected about $11,000 in cash.

“We didn't know about, or anticipate, the monetary awards,” said Damian Kush of Richland, owner director of the dance studio.

After soloists receive their portions of the spoils for future class fees, Kush plans to spend the winnings on items to improve his studio.

“He took a lot home,” said Kris Klein, competition and marketing director for Westerfield Management in Mesquite, Texas, which produces Showbiz National Talent competitions.

Students from about 30 U.S. and Canadian dance schools competed in the Virginia Beach event.

“He's got a very advanced team (of dancers),” Klein said about Kush. “They perform high-level acrobatics and highly advanced technical skills.”

Kush, 33, a La Roche College graduate, oversees about 130 dance students, ages 6 to 18, plus, dance instructors that include Melissa “Misa” Pascarella of the Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Company.

Kush and his wife, Courtney, have three children: Nicholas, 12; Nathan, 8; and Lindyn, 2.

In early July at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Kush's dance studio won the Rasta Thomas Ballet Strong Award for demonstrating the best ballet technique in “Paquita,” a work choreographed by Pascarella of Bodiography.

Elite Dance by Damian dancers, ages 12 to 15, also won a best-in-show-type National Icon Cup at the competition for their ensemble performance of “Over You,” a contemporary dance work choreographed to music from “The Great Gatsby” movie soundtrack.

Elite Dance students, ages 15 to 18, also won the diamond-level National Icon Cup for their group performance of “We Are Infinite,” another contemporary work, inspired by “The Perks of Being a Teenage Wallflower” movie and novel. Rebecca Alward, 25, of Cranberry, choreographed the work.

“That was the one we were hoping to win,” Kush said. “They were very excited because it was the biggest thing you could win. It was the top award.”

Among Elite Dance soloists, Julia Lotz, 18, of Cranberry received the highest score among diamond-level dancers at the Showbiz National Talent Competition.

That achievement earned Lotz an interview with the McDonald Selznick Associates talent agency in Los Angeles. Lotz also won the “Miss Showbiz” title at the competition in Virginia Beach.

“The instruction at Elite Dance by Damian is simply the best around,” Lotz said. “Damian gives his students a strong technique base and safe environment to create and develop as an artist.”

Sixty-five Elite Dance students competed in the Showbiz National Talent Competition with help from nearly 10 fathers who hauled stage props in a 30-foot-truck, and dub themselves, the Elite Nation Prop Pops.

“We are very proud of all the dancers this season,” said Dave Pritchard, 54, of Cranberry. His daughter Ashley, a senior at Seneca Valley High School, has been an Elite Dance student for nine years.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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