Dancers for the Win


Mariah Brown practices her contemporary dance solo of Jasmine Thomson’s cover of Sam Smith’s “La, La, La.” Photo Credit: Traci Phelps

Isabella Cowles practices one of her three dances for the Solo Seal Award. Photo Credit: Julie Renner

Summer has come to an end, students are returning back to school and getting asked the same question: what did you do this summer? Some respond with getting their driver’s license and working a massive amount of hours; while others respond with going on vacation and hanging out with friends.
However, not many can say that they won a prestigious dance awards, like seniors Mariah Brown and Isabella Cowles did.
Brown and Cowles have both grown up dancing and are used to giving up several days of their summer vacation dedicated to their dance careers. Even though they both received respectable awards in dancing, their stories are far more different than what people would expect.
Brown Wins Medal at National Competition
Brown has been dancing for 7 years and is currently dancing with Traci Phelps Studios. This past July, Brown was given the opportunity to perform a solo at Cathy Roe’s Ultimate Dance Competition and compete against 20 other esteemed individuals. This dance competition is very challenging to get into, as it is a nationwide event and is even harder to place in, especially when you are performing a solo.
To prepare for the competition, Brown practiced her solo, a contemporary dance of Jasmine Thomson’s cover of Sam Smith’s “La, La, La”, everyday for over a year.
“It’s always fun to learn my solo, but it sometimes can get overwhelming with all the new choreography being thrown at you constantly,” said Brown.
Brown also had to learn seven other dances along with her solo over the year in preparations for Nationals, which added even more stress to make sure she was perfect in all dances, including her solo.
After practicing daily for over a year and competing in other competitions in April and May, Brown was ready to take the stage at Nationals in Mason, Ohio in Mid-July. Even through all the nerves she felt for her solo, she nailed it.
“I felt good afterwards, especially since my team was screaming for me from the audience. I was really relieved that it was finally over, and I believed it was my best performed solo, but I still was doubting that I would place,” said Brown.
Brown stayed in Mason, Ohio for a week for the competition since the competition also had workshop days, and performance days. It wasn’t until the end of the week that the results were revealed. Brown had placed second at her first Nationals competition.
“I was really surprised because the girl who got third was very good, and after she was announced in third, I didn’t think I would place. I was completely in awe and filled with pure joy when I heard my name announced,” said Brown.
Brown also placed in 5 out of 7 other dances that she participated in at Nationals. She wishes to pursue dancing in college and will see if she wants to continue dancing after college.
Cowles Wins International Award
Isabella Cowles has been dancing for 12 years and is currently dancing with The Ballet Academy. Earlier this year in May, Cowles got the opportunity of a lifetime; to perform some of her solos in hopes of winning the “Royal Academy of Dance Solo Seal Award.” This distinguished award is only presented to three dancers in Canada, Cowles being one of the possible candidates since she is with Canadian company in competitions.
In order for Cowles to prepare for the Solo Seal exam, she chose three dances for the competition, one she learned two years prior to the exam. She practiced for a year until the Solo Seal in May.
Once May finally arrived, Cowles traveled to Toronto, Canada for the exam. Filled with nerves, she was unable to sleep the night before, but that did not affect her performance on stage.
“Once I got on stage, I felt amazing and powerful. After the exam, I knew that I had done my very best and it had gone as well as I had hoped,” said Cowles.
Once she finished her performance, she had waited for six weeks with anticipation, wonder, and patience. Cowles won the “Royal Academy of Dance Solo Seal Award” in Mid-June, but could not accept the award personally at the ceremony due to being in Chicago for the Joffrey Ballet International Summer Intensive.
“When I won the award, I felt really accomplished because I worked hard all year for it, actually, my entire dance career for it, and I never thought it would be something I could get since it was always so high up there,” said Cowles.
Cowles looks forward to putting this accomplishment on her resume, as it will help her be recognized by several favorable dance companies. She will continue to pursue dance hoping to sign with a company and dance for as long as she can. She’s also convinced she will teach dance.