With most of the events that Midland University Dance Team attends, there’s an element of competitiveness, head dance coach Katie Speicher said.

But with Dance Excellence, an international dance festival held annually in Los Angeles, she said education takes precedence.

“Dance Excellence is just about learning and about growing and really developing your craft, Speicher said. “So instead of making it more about who’s the best dancer in the room, it’s really about sharing this love of dance together.”

Members of Midland’s dance team will travel to California this spring to attend Dance Excellence. The week-long event, which starts on April 5, provides various workshops for the dancers to attend.

“The dancers have the opportunity to take 18 classes in three days,” Speicher said. “It ranges from ballet, hip hop, musical theater, contemporary, basically every style that you can imagine they take workshops in.”

Dance Excellence, which is usually gear toward younger dancers, first selected Midland to attend the event in 2018.

“Usually, there’s only one studio per state,” Speicher said. “We were chosen to represent Nebraska, which was really cool because it was the first time Midland had ever been chosen to represent the state, and it was kind of the first time that a college program had attended.”

While a program from Grand Island attended last year, Midland is returning to Dance Excellence this year with 11 of its 36 members attending.

Speicher, who went to performing arts middle and high schools growing up and toured the world teaching performing arts workshops, attended Dance Excellence seven times as a dancer.

“The fact the Midland is recognized as a program is kind of because of that networking that we’ve been doing, but also the dancers have really made a name for themselves,” she said. “We are five-time national champions, so I think that definitely contributed to us being invited.”

The workshops are taught by some of the most prestigious and well-known choreographers in the dance industry, Speicher said. This year’s teachers include Melissa Sandvig, Mark Meismer and Adam Parson.

“There’s a whole lot of fun stuff that goes along with it too,” Speicher said. “We get to go to Disneyland for a day, we have the opportunity to go see a Broadway show, go to Hollywood and there’s a big gala at the end of the conference. So it’s a lot of fun.”

The dancers are currently fundraising for the trip, which costs $2,500 per student. People interested in donating can contact Speicher or visit the team’s Facebook page.

“It’s a pretty hefty price tag to go, so I make it optional,” Speicher said. “That way, people don’t feel obligated to have to raise all that money.”

With dancers attending from all over the world, Speicher said it’s a great opportunity for the dancers to get to learn the art of dance alongside people from countries like Japan or the Philippines.

“So that’s one thing that I love, is it really is a learning experience and a growing experience,” she said. “We have plenty of opportunities throughout the rest of the season to compete or push ourselves to be the best, but this is just a great opportunity to learn something new.”

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