National championships return home with local dancers

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While summer is often thought of as a time for rest and relaxation for athletes, one group of local athletes didn’t let summer vacation slow them down on their way to national titles.

The dance teams from Next Jennaration Dance Studio, a Lansing-based dance studio that is entering its 14th year of existence under the guidance of Jenna Stickel, who successfully returned from the 2019 Starpower National Championships in Ocean City, Maryland, with five national titles and the Victory Cup, the event’s premier award. The studio teaches and performs within multiple disciplines of dance including lyrical, tap, jazz, contemporary, ballet and hip-hop.

As a program, the Next Jennaration team performed a total of 14 different team-based routines that secured a spot in the final round of the completion. “The Battle,” as the last remaining round is called by the competition, saw the team perform all 14 of the qualifying routines, with a chance to capture the title in each of the acts.

When the dust settled from the team routines, there was a clear dominant force inside the Roland E. Powell event center, and that was the Next Jennaration team.

In total, the studio brought home a total of five national titles. From the 14 different routines performed, Next Jennaration scored the top honor with their performances of their routines “Beyoncé,” “JLO,” “Sound of Hate,” “Lip Gloss” and “Seasons.”

The performance of “Seasons” won over the judges and earned the studio the coveted Victory Cup. The Victory Cup is awarded annually to the team that produces the highest overall score in a single routine at the competition.

The studio, which has now sent representation to the national championships for the 13th year in a row, saw much more than success for the overall routines, as many individual dancers brought home major accolades.

The routines, which are choreographed by Stickel, not only earned the team its major awards but also helped Stickel capture Choreographer of the Year in the 11 and under category, the same award she won in 2018. Along with the 11 and under crown, she also won the same award for the 12 and over category.

The studio’s performance of “Sound of Hate,” one of the national titles, was tabbed as the highest scoring duet in the competition, after the performance by Hailey VanAlstine and Mason Lehmann.

Stickel’s daughter, 7-year-old Anaya, built upon her 2018 performance that saw her named the 11 & Under Dance Spirit Future Star, with Petite Miss National Starpower at the championships. The honor earns Stickel an opportunity to compete at the 2019 World Dance Pageant, along with teammate Vivian Amos, in Secaucus, New Jersey from July 29 through 31.

As a studio, Next Jennarations was selected as one of six studios, from more than 50,000 entries, to be nominated for the Entertainment Award of the Year, which will be announced on Aug. 1, for the entire studio’s performance of the routine titled “We’re All in this Together.”

Additionally, the studio will take two routines, “This is how I Live” and “Beyoncé,” to the World Championships on Aug. 4 in hopes of adding to the already full trophy case.

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