Island dancers win big in the competition circuit

Island Dance Studio is the training ground for the dancers of the Island Dance Competition Team.

Island Dance Studio in Langley is the training ground for the dancers of the Island Dance Competition Team and the Whidbey Island Dance Theatre, the company that has produced “The Nutcracker” and its spring show “Celebration of Dance” for the past 30 years in Langley.

Each year, many of these young dancers in training compete at regional dance competitions hosted by the Spotlight Dance Cup, a national organization that has been producing professional dance competitions throughout the country for the past 27 years. Last year, in events throughout the country, it represented a total of 26,842 dancers, including the ambitious young dancers of the Island Dance Competition Team.

in January of this year, a Spotlight Cup was held at the Highline Performing Arts Center in Seattle. Island Dance performer Tay Pitts, a 17-year-old senior at South Whidbey High School, swept the competition and won the “Diamond Award,” which is awarded to the first place overall highest scoring routine in each division.

Tay danced in a piece titled “Me in 20 Years,” choreographed by Jamee Pitts, Tay’s mother and co-owner of Island Dance (with her mother, co-owner and founder Char Brown). Tay was also awarded the “Judges Choice” award for the best “Storyteller in Motion” and was also the Contemporary Category Winner for her division.

Tay also received the “What Makes you Unique” award, given to one recipient at each award ceremony. She was the overall first place senior soloist in the “Future Gem” division and was awarded a scholarship to a weekend workshop in Las Vegas, as well as a trip to New York city, for the “All-Star Dance Vacation.”

Other Island Dance contestants also showed their mettle at this event and shone even brighter at the Spotlight Dance Cup 2 in Tacoma in February. All dancers (absent Tay Pitts) elevated their previous performances both in stage presence and in awards at the February event. They included:Emmalynn Rochholz (15), in the solo performance “Control,” won the Diamond Award. Emmalyn finished 7th place overall in the “Future Gem” division.

Lainey Dodge (12) and Stella Jung (11) danced the duet “Come Fly With Me,” and won the Diamond Award and placed second overall in the “Future Gem” division.

Amelia Rochholz (13) danced the solo “Better Than Today” to take the Ruby Award and a judges choice award of “Cover Girl.”

Clara Jacobson-Ross (13) performed the solo “The Other Side,” to win a Ruby Award.

Maliya Thrasher (14) danced the solo “Hang on a Little Longer,” to win a Diamond Award, as well as winning the Lyrical Category and third place overall in the “Future Gem” division.

Lindi Moore (14) danced the solo “Deep End,” and won a Diamond Award.

What all this means for these young dancers is that several of them have qualified for the Spotlight West Coast Nationals July 10-16 in Seaside, Oregon.

Island Dance Studio offers a variety of classes for all ages following the South Whidbey School District calendar. The summer session is from July 5-28, with an upper-level Intensive Workshop August 1-15. To find out more about signing up for classes, the team or workshops, go to or email