Local dance studio jets off to America for once in a lifetime experience

This week, dancers and cheerleaders from all over the globe will be jet-setting off to Florida to compete in two of the most prestigious competitions in the sports – The Cheerleading Worlds and The Summit.

One of the local studios that will be representing Australia across both is Excite Dance and Cheer, located right here in Penrith.

Having last travelled overseas for the competitions in 2018, Owner and Director of Excite Dance and Cheer, Kerry Richardson, was ecstatic to see her students be named Grand Champions at AASCF Nationals last year, which gave them just the ticket they needed.

“We were not planning, this year, to go away, but the bids came our way unexpectedly,” she said.

“It made it even more exciting, that it wasn’t planned, but the parents were all in, the kids were all in, so we said, ‘Let’s do it’. It’s a once in a lifetime thing.”

Excite have a Level 3 cheer team and a hip-hop team competing at Summit, and a jazz dance team competing at Worlds – the two dance teams being Excite’s first to compete in their respective competitions.

With competing students ranging in age from 11 to 19, Richardson notes that around 80 per cent of them have been dancing under her since they were babies, creating an exceptional amount of pride for both her and the other coaches who have seen them grow over the years.

The Excite Dance and Cheer team. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“They’re homegrown, which makes it really special that the work paid off,” she said.

Despite injuries and monthly re-blockings, Richardson assures that routines have been upgraded and elevated since the last time they hit the mat, which has only seen anticipation build coming up to the big day.

“They’re really excited. It’s been a massive amount of effort,” she said.

“Every Saturday, the cheer team trains from eight in the morning until 11, and then the hip hop and dance teams are straight after that. They’ve given up their Saturdays since December to get here, so it’s quite a big commitment, definitely.”

Although nine of their attending athletes competed at Summit last time, the remainder will be travelling overseas to the competitions for the first time.

But, that doesn’t make them any less determined to hit zero, and take out the top spot.

“Last time we went, we got the second highest point score, but first and second tied, so there was an equal first, and we got third. Those girls are really itching to go back and prove their point,” Richardson said.

Having set off to the US on Wednesday, Richardson said she’s aimed to instill confidence in her teams, despite the obvious nerves.

“There’s definitely nerves, there’s definitely things that they have to iron out, but we’re hoping we’ve trained them enough, and we’ve prepped them enough,” she said.

“In our last training sessions, we’ve really been talking about not focusing on the one thing that you haven’t done once, and instead focusing on that particular skill that you’ve done many, many times. Every routine has those little moments that make them a little bit anxious, but they have to focus on the fact that they’ve done it many, many more times than they haven’t.”

Richardson said she’s incredibly proud of her team, and is most excited to see them come together and show off what Excite can do.

“It’s teamwork, it’s hard work, it’s sacrifice, and they’ve gotten this far,” she said.

“They wouldn’t have gotten a bid if they didn’t deserve it, and the people that can’t come with us, it makes them stronger and brings them together, because they realise what a blessing they’ve got.”

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