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story.lead_photo.caption Photo submitted Samantha Handcock Blair practiced a heel stretch in Central Park during her trip to New York, N.Y. for the All Star Dancers National Convention in New York City. Samantha's mom, Angela Blair, said she practices 24/7.

Samantha Handcock Blair's love for dance helped her earn a trip to New York, N.Y., in July to experience Broadway musicals and the Radio City Rockettes first hand.

In February, the soon-to-be fifth-grader at Siloam Springs Intermediate School won first place in the Rainbow Dance Competition in Fort Smith, earning her an invitation to the 2018 All Stars Dancers National Convention on July 11-16.

At the convention, Blair got a chance to participate in a dance workshop and mock audition taught by the Radio City Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. She also attended classes at the Broadway Dance Center and workshops taught by Broadway show performers.

But the trip wasn't all work. Samantha and her mom, Angela Blair, also got to attend two Broadway shows, go on a guided tour of the city, and a harbour tour cruise as well as a second formal dinner cruise which took them near the Statue of Liberty. They also got a behind-the-scenes tour of Radio City Music Hall, and stayed in a hotel on Times Square.

Samantha's love for dance began about three years ago, she said. She tried several sports but hadn't found anything that was a good fit for her. A movie about dance sparked her interest and she started teaching herself by watching YouTube.

Angela said she caught Samantha watching a YouTube video about ballet and quickly signed her up for classes.

Samantha dances at Studio B School of Dance in Siloam Springs, where she studies all types of dance including jazz, ballet, musical theater, tap, contemporary, lyrical and hip hop. She usually goes to the dance studio four days a week and spends about 10 hours a week in formal training.

However, Samantha never really stops training. She's even been known to do cartwheels in the Walmart aisles, her mom said.

"Even when we go home and we've had a four-hour practice day, she's choreographing dances at home, so she really never stops doing it," Angela said.

Samantha was one of 55 elementary through high school-age girls who attended the convention.

"She made a lot of friends. There was one little group that they met that stayed together the whole time," Angela said.

Meeting the Rockettes was a highlight of the trip for Samantha, although she learned that Rockettes have to be 5-foot, 6-inches tall, a height she doubts she will grow into.

"We got to meet the Rockettes, we got to learn to dance from them and we got to do a mock audition," she said.

Samantha also had a lot of fun working with the teachers at the Broadway Dance Center, where she worked with teachers who had been a part of shows such as "Anastasia," "Finding Neverland" and "The Lion King."

"It was good because each teacher they had a class with encouraged them, 'You don't have to be 5-foot-6 six, you don't have to be a Rockette, do what you would love to do and you just work hard,'" Angela said.

During the city tour, Angela and Samantha got to see sights such as the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park and the 9/11 Memorial.

The two Broadway shows were a highlight for Angela.

"It was cool to go to the shows so they could see that is something they could do, because there was a lot of dancing on both shows," she said.

Samantha said the trip confirmed her love for dance.

At home, she enjoys performing for events such as the Dogwood Festival and the Christmas Parade. She also likes to work as a team with her friends at the dance studio. In the future she would like to become a dance teacher and have a studio.

"It's almost like she turns into a different person when she goes on stage," Angela said. "She's not nervous."

General News on 08/05/2018

Print Headline: For the love of dance

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