It’s the last Finals in Showstopper’s 2021 National Tour. 51 of the year’s 300 All-Stars (the top competitive-level soloists from each regional competition) gathered in Las Vegas, Nevada to compete and showcase their skills in the West Coast Finals Opening Number ahead of the America Loves to Dance Awards. Let’s take an inside look at what it takes to be an All-Star and go behind the scenes of the Opening Number.
I was honored to be part of one of the most exciting and showstopping events of the year, assisting choreographers Haley Mac Cooper and Taylor Quinn with the Opening Number choreography and rehearsals. The four-minute performance took place on the main Showstopper stage at 9 AM on Thursday, July 29. With five styles of dance represented and only two days of rehearsal time—after long competition days, no less—to perfect the performance, everyone involved has to give it their all to make sure that the crowd is astounded when the confetti flies at the end of the routine. The Opening Number is a fierce artistic display showcasing the dancers’ hard work, technique, and training over the last year. Not to mention that it is full of rhinestones, confetti, hot pink feather headdresses (it is Vegas after all!), and sparkling disco balls.
“It’s always so amazing, and the choreography is totally spectacular,” 11-year-old Sunnie Pelant, Touch of Class Dance Academy student and two-time Showstopper All-Star, said about the Opening Number. Her favorite part of the event is learning the choreography and bonding with the other All-Stars, spending time with old and new friends.
Hayley Mac choreographed the Opening Number to include multiple dynamic dance sections to showcase the specialties of the All-Star dancers. Jazz, lyrical, tap, contemporary, and hip hop all had their moment on the stage. By layering dance steps and tempo changes within the Showstopper theme song, Hayley made sure to draw the audience in to appreciate the many genres of dance and applaud the All-Star performer’s well-rounded skills.
Personally, my favorite part of rehearsals was watching the dancers encourage one another and cheer each other on. 17-year-old Amber Jay of Classical Dance Academy said, “There is no greater feeling than dancing on stage, and getting to do it with these dancers was next level! I made so many new friends that I will have forever in the dance world, and in life!” The road to the stage is not an easy one, but as Amber said, “It’s so worth it!”
On the day of the performance, the All-Stars wore their own pink and black costumes, decked out in rhinestones. The energy in the room was indescribably high as the dancers took the stage and the audience cheered. The talent, determination, and passion was unmatched. Behind the dancers, bursts of pink filled the LED screens with explosions of stars, sparkles, and fireworks, and as the final eight counts of the choreography landed right as the final line of “Do you wanna dance?” boomed from the speakers, the Showstopper All-Stars struck their final poses, an ensemble of talented young dancers with confetti flying in the air around them.
Even with packed competition solos representing their home studios, the All-Stars put all of their hearts and passion into making the Opening Number truly spectacular! Did you miss it live? You can view the entire West Coast Finals Opening Number performance below.