Kentwood High School student to perform in ‘Dance This’ at Seattle’s Paramount

Dance moves that got Alexis Berrysmith in trouble in preschool now have become her passion. Whenever Berrysmith heard music in class, she couldn't sit still. She would stand up and dance. Even if her teacher told her to sit down. That's one reason Berrysmith started dance lessons at age 6.

Alexis Berrysmith

Alexis Berrysmith

Dance moves that got Alexis Berrysmith in trouble in preschool now have become her passion.

Whenever Berrysmith heard music in class, she couldn’t sit still. She would stand up and dance. Even if her teacher told her to sit down.

That’s one reason Berrysmith started dance lessons at age 6.

“I tried karate and hated that,” said Berrysmith, 16, of Kent. “In gymnastics, I just wanted to do my own thing. Dance was perfect. I could do what I wanted.”

Dance has given the Kentwood High School junior plenty of opportunities. She performed four years with the Seattle Storm Dance Troupe for the Women’s National Basketball Association games at the KeyArena. She currently performs with the Radio Disney 1250 AM promotional dance team at malls and events in the Seattle area.

But the biggest event coming up for Berrysmith is the Dance This show at 7:30 p.m. July 10 at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle.

Berrysmith earned one of the 24 spots on a hip-hop team that will perform at Dance This that features teen dancers working with professional artists to put on contemporary and urban dances including contemporary, tap, break dancing and Indian dances. The Seattle Theatre Group presents the annual event.

“It’s getting closer and I’m nervous and excited,” said Berrysmith, who was selected from more than 70 hip-hop dancers after a May 15 tryout at the Westlake Dance Center in Seattle. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

One of the huge thrills for Berrysmith of making the Dance This show has been the chance to work with Los Angeles-based choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo, best known for their work as choreographers and judges on the FOX television show “So You Think You Can Dance.” They also have worked with MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” and with the “Viva Elvis” show by Cirque du Soleil at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

“It’s amazing,” Berrysmith said about the D’umos. “For them to come to Seattle, which is out of their way, it’s really a great opportunity.”

The hip-hop team will perform about a 5-minute number at Dance This choreographed by the D’umos, who led two rehearsals in May that lasted five hours each. The other rehearsals are led by Seattle choreographers Nick and Anna Golla.

At the tryouts in May, Berrysmith was taught the dance piece and then had to perform it in order to survive the cuts.

Berrysmith began dancing at age 6 with Dance Connections of Kent before switching to the Allegro Performing Arts Academy in Kent. She performed five years with a hip-hop team from Allegro.

She auditioned in 2005 with more than 100 children ages 6-15 for the Storm Dance Troupe and was one of 10 members selected. She auditioned and made the team four consecutive years. In 2009, she choreographed for the Storm dance team.

Outside of dance team performances, Berrysmith has traveled to dance conventions in Cancun, Mexico, Chicago, Las Vegas, Portland, Santa Clara, Calif., and Vancouver, British Columbia. She earned scholarships at most of those conventions in order to pay for the next convention.

“She’s been very motivated,” said her mother Connie Berrysmith. “At times it’s been hectic with school and conflicts with dancing events. But she’s handled it really well.”

The 5-foot-11 dancer plans to attend a four-year college but remains uncertain about a major. She wants to stay involved with dancing after college.

“Maybe I’ll open a studio,” she said. “Or become a professional and move to Los Angeles.”

But right now she will simply focus on her performance at the Paramount.

“It’s about expression,” Berrysmith said about what she enjoys about dancing. “It’s a good release of stress. Once I get started, I let it all go.”

If you go

What: Dance This

When: 7:30 p.m. July 10

Where: The Paramount Theatre, Seattle

Cost: $23 adults, $12 students

Tickets: www.stgpresent.org or 1-877-784-4849


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