Hard at work with little time to spare, the dancers at Stage Left rehearse for their Orange Bowl performance.
Stage Left Dancers to Perform at the Orange Bowl
MIDDLETOWN - If you find yourself tuned into the Orange Bowl halftime show on New Years Day thinking the dancers surrounding headlining artist Jake Owen look familiar, that’s because they probably are.
A few weeks before Christmas, Middletown’s Stage Left Dance Studio received an invitation to gather the best of the best from its different levels of dance companies to head down to Miami as back-up dancers for country singer Owen in an eight-minute routine that includes a choreographed flashlight dance. A dozen girls from Stage Left, ages 12 to 17, had only a few weeks to learn four songs worth of choreography, meeting every Saturday and Sunday for a few hours.
“We had to commit to teaching them 10 hours, but we’re doing like 15 hours,” said Stage Left Director Lorrie Tine. “We have the kids learn the choreography so they can practice at home and they bring their video cameras to rehearsal here so they can just do it at home as well.”
Amanda Balch, Kaitlyn Mentlick, Korinne Stockdale, Kelly Deegan, Christine French, Gabi Lanza, Allegra Rosa, Ricki Barton, Gabriella Barton, Sophia Solecki, Julia Solecki and Victoria Schaff have each been dancing for at least five years and are all part of Stage Left’s company classes, which are the competition groups, but this performance will still prove challenging. When they get down to Florida, the group will spend another 16 hours rehearsing with famous choreographer Chris Judd and nine other dance groups from all over the country. They also will attend a day of dance conventions with five other famous choreographers.
“It’s learning it really fast, which is a good learning experience for them; it’s more professional,” Tine said.
While the dancers at Stage Left aren’t strangers to a big stage, having performed at Disney World and Rock Cats games, amongst other events, this will be the biggest yet. The live audience at the Orange Bowl is approximately 75,0000 Tine said, not to mention ESPN will broadcast the game on national television.
The group upped the intensity of their rehearsals right after Christmas before heading down to Miami. Balch, a graduating senior this year, said she is more excited than nervous to dance on her biggest stage yet.
“We’ve danced at a lot of places before; the first time we danced at Disney we danced on this little stage in the back and no one really knew we were there. The next time we danced on the stage in downtown Disney and there was just a mob of people there, it was great. I’m psyched this is even bigger than that,” she said.
Some of the girls are also excited because they’re fans of the headlining artist.
“I love Jake Owen. I’m a country girl so I knew about him before so I’m excited,” Balch said.