‘America’s Got Talent’ dancers coming to Kent

It might look like the moves come easy for Everett child ballroom dancing stars Erik Linder and Rickie Taylor when they hit the stage Sept. 17 at the Kent Senior Activity Center. After all, Linder, 10, and Taylor, 9, finished in the top 20 in 2009 on NBC's "America's Got Talent," danced on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," are three-time USA Dance national champions and have competed for Team USA in the world championships in England.

Erik Linder

It might look like the moves come easy for Everett child ballroom dancing stars Erik Linder and Rickie Taylor when they hit the stage Sept. 17 at the “Kent Senior Activity Center.”

After all, Linder, 10, and Taylor, 9, finished in the top 20 in 2009 on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” danced on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” are three-time “USA Dance” national champions and have competed for Team USA in the world championships in England.

But Taylor explained during a recent phone interview from her home in Everett that ballroom dancing can be quite a challenge for the young couple who started to dance together five years ago after they met at a dance class.

“Sometimes it’s easy in the lessons,” Taylor said. “Sometimes we’re training all year for a competition and it’s really hard since we have to go through each move.

“For the last month we’ve been working on one dance and going over and over until once we get it perfect which is hard.”

Once the pair gets on stage, however, the thrills begin. They dance the waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, cha cha cha, samba, rumba, pasodoble and jive.

“It’s really fun to get to show people what you can do,” Linder said. “They don’t know you can dance and think you need to be older. Then we make them smile and they’re happy.”

The two will perform in Kent to help raise money for the senior center’s lunch program. They danced at the senior center last spring to help raise money to fund trips to their national and world dance competitions and now will perform to raise funds for the budget-strapped lunch program.

“They love the chance to get out and perform and help other people and raise some money for the lunch program,” said Lars Linder, Erik’s father.

Linder and Taylor practice three times a week at “Oly’s Dance Studio,” in Everett. Their Latin dance coaches are Ekaterina Zakharoff and Yegor Novikov, who also are competitive dancers. Their ballroom standard coach is Elena Zakharova.

“They have incredible coaches and teachers,” Lars Linder said.

Outside of dancing, Linder, who is in the fifth grade, likes to play basketball.

“When they compete in dancing, it’s hard to picture that’s our child,” Lars Linder said. “But at home he’s just a regular kid.”

Michelle Taylor, the mother of Rickie, introduced her daughter to ballroom dancing. She has watched Erik and Rickie grow as friends and dance partners.

“They enjoy working at it and it’s good for the mind and body,” Michelle Taylor said. “Dancing can be very challenging and you are able to use your whole body. You can be Fred Astaire one dance and a bullfighter in another.”

The kids have met a lot of people through dancing, including Winfrey when they appeared on her show in 2008.

“My mom told me we were going on the Oprah show and I had no idea who she was,” Rickie Taylor said. “But it was really exciting. Oprah is very tall.”

Michelle Taylor expects her daughter’s dance partnership with Linder to stay strong.

“As long as they walk out on the floor arm in arm and it brings them a wonderful feeling, they’ll keep doing it,” Taylor said. “I’ll keep driving her to class as long as she enjoys it and feels the motivation.”

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the 6:15 p.m. show followed by a second show at 8 p.m. A Dessert for Donations is scheduled before, between and after the dance shows.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for adults ages 50 and older, high school and middle school students and $10 for elementary students who bring their own pillows for selected floor seating. Tickets went on sale Aug. 30.

For tickets, go to the senior center or call 253-856-5150 weekdays.

For more information about Linder and Taylor, go to “www.erikandrickie.com”.

If you go

What: Ballroom dancers Erik Linder and Rickie Taylor

When: 6:15 and 8 p.m. Sept. 17

Where: Kent Senior Center, 600 E. Smith St.

Cost: $20 adults; $15 ages 50 and older, students; $10 elementary students

Tickets: Call 253-856-5150 weekdays

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