Whidbey dancers win big at Star Power

The Island Dance Competition Team brought home multiple awards — many for first place — from the Northwest Regional Starpower Competition.

Starpower was held at the Burien Performing Arts Center on Feb. 6-7.

For first-time attendees, the competition evaluates dancers a bit differently from other competitions by awarding up to a maximum five stars for each performance. The Island Dance team was up to the challenge, and the judges took notice.

It wasn’t until late Sunday night, about 10 p.m., that Jess Barker as the “teacher” and Zane Vanderwood as the “dance student” impressed the crowd with their funny and hugely entertaining “Dance 101” Hip Hop Duo, choreographed by Graham Vanderwood, in the 15-16 year old division and walked away with four stars and a first-place trophy.

They also took first place among all the duos and trios in every dance genre for ages 15 through 18, and were awarded a Starpower plaque and a cash prize.

The Island Dance team debuted two new pieces at this competition: “I’ll Stand by You” (danced by Weslee Doucette, Cassie Neil and Melissa Smith in the ages 9-11 Lyrical division, choreographed by Jamee Pitts), and “Lift Off” (choreographed by former islander Andrea Burr).

“Lift Off” is a unique piece about space travel danced by Abigail Rookstool, Grace Rookstool, Melissa Smith, Weslee Doucette and Cassie Neil. It earned four stars for ages 9-11 Jazz Small Group, and was also singled out from among ages 8-11, all group sizes and all dance genres, for a special Judge’s Choice Award.

Grace Colby and Campbelle Antich danced “The Spotlight,” and brought home a first-place trophy in Hip Hop Duo ages 8 and younger.

Not to be outdone, Tappers brought home their medals and ribbons: Melissa Smith, Abby and Grace Rookstool, Cassie Neil and Sylvia Hurlburt performed “Tap School,” and tap duo Cassie and Sylvia danced “Feel Good Inc.”

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