Harrison Township, Shelby TownshipJuly 19, 2013
Local teen dancers honored in New York City
By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer
HARRISON TOWNSHIP/SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Alex Soulliere’s parents signed him up for gymnastics when he was just 6.
After two years, his parents, Lisa and Robert Soulliere, decided to sign him up for dance lessons, as well. He danced for Radio Disney when he was 8 and joined his first studio, Allard Academy of Dance, eventually enrolling at Spotlight Danceworks in Chesterfield Township — considered one of the top dance studio’s in the country — at age 10.
“I decided I liked dancing better than gymnastics,” said Alex, a Harrison Township resident and senior at L’Anse Creuse High School. “I’ve been dancing now for nine years.”
His natural dancing talent and his years of experience both teaching young students and performing with some of the biggest names in the industry, like Liza Minnelli and Mikhail Baryshnikov, has shaped the 17-year-old into the performer he is today.
And those talents didn’t go unnoticed during the New York City Dance Alliance Senior Gala, where he was named the 2013 National Male Senior Outstanding Dancer of the Year on July 5. The achievement not only means participation in a 23-city dance tour that begins in October — it also meant recognition by some of the most prestigious dance programs and universities in the country.
Specifically, Alex has been offered more than $345,000 in scholarships, one of which is from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he was presented with a full ride on a four-year degree program.
“I was really excited and I’m looking forward to next year,” said Alex a week after receiving the honor. “I’m going to keep training and getting better.”
All that training and traveling won’t interfere with his school responsibilities, Alex said, as touring is only on the weekends and he trains after classes. Regardless, he knows he’s in for a very busy year.
“It’s been incredible,” said Alex, who has performed in “Newsies” on Broadway for the Astaire Awards, was on “America’s Got Talent” in Chicago, and has performed at the ACE Awards in New York City. He has studied at The Joffrey Ballet in New York, The Edge Dance Studio in Los Angeles, Calif., The Berkshires, and currently at Juilliard School of Performing Arts, where he is participating in their annual Summer Intensive, another highly-regarded and sought-after program.
The honor of NYCDA Outstanding Dancer of the Year is a highly regarded recognition for a teenage dancer in the country today. Every year, thousands of young dancers flock to regional dancers’ workshops with the most nationally-recognized choreographers. These regional events occur in 23 cities across the country. NYCDA was founded and is operated by Joe Lanteri to develop and promote the art form of dance with today’s young performers. The Alliance acknowledges 10 recipients in four categories: minis, juniors, teens and seniors at the 23 regionals.
NYCDA awarded more than $3.4 million in college dance scholarships on July 5, while also bringing the top casting directors to audition and cast dancers for Broadway shows such as “Wicked,” “Newsies,” “Matilda” and Radio City Rockettes.
Classes and auditions were held by prestigious master teachers and professionals from NYC’s dance community, selected to assess and develop the dancers, including representatives from American Ballet Theatre, Jackie Kennedy Onassis School of Ballet (ABT JKO), Joffrey, Complexions, Alvin Alley, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet Company, Juilliard and Steps on Broadway, among others.
Another Macomb County native recognized at NYCDA earlier this month was 13-year-old Sophie Miklosovic, of Shelby Township.
Sophie was named 2013 National Female Junior Outstanding Dancer of the Year after eight intensive days and nights of auditions, classes, rehearsals and solo performances that were judged by some of the elite from the New York City dance scene. She was selected from 113 female regional scholarship winners from across the country.
Sophie’s mother Laurie said many of the dancers from the television competition program “So You Think You Can Dance” are former NYCDA “Outstanding” dancers.
“Sophie is thrilled to be a part of this prestigious organization and invited to perform with and assist on the 20th Anniversary tour to 24 cities,” said Laurie.
For the past year, Sophie has resided in Chicago, Ill, where she attends the Faubourg School of Ballet, and has traveled to Milan, Italy, as well as Istanbul as a ballet demonstrator for the school’s director.
She trains morning, noon and night honing a craft she started loving at the age of 3, but became more serious about just two years ago.
“Every day is a long, busy day, but I love it that way,” said Sophie, who has performed and trained with Alex at Spotlight under owner Linda Schmidt and artistic director Liz Schmidt-Mazurkiewicz.
She credits the coaching from these women for shaping her into the dancer she is today, which has subsequently opened up so many valuable doors of opportunity.
“I listen carefully and try to make every correction my teachers give me so I can get the next correction,” Sophie says. “I don’t think about competing or winning; I just love performing and telling a story while on stage. I lose myself in the music and I try to make the audience feel something. Then, I go and hang out with my dance friends.
“NYCDA was the best week of my dance life. I made awesome friends from all over the country. Sure, we all want to do our best; sure, we want to be the one they pick to tour. I know I am a lucky girl. Only one of us gets the title and wins the Gala … but by 8 a.m. the next morning, we are all back in class working hard again and having a blast dancing because, next year, it will be someone else’s turn and there are so many amazing opportunities, people and experiences at NYCDA; that is what keeps us going back every summer.”