It doesn’t seem that long ago that Holly Bain was running around the soccer field helping the Miami Springs High School girls soccer program win a ton of games and advance to the state final four.
And even though that was a mere six years ago, oh, how the times have changed. Three-and-a-half years ago, Bain opened the doors to the Starlight Dance Studio on Westward Drive, a pretty bold endeavor for a young 20-year-old girl, to say the least.
Slowly but surely, Bain used her athletic and choreography talents to build up her student base from the low 20s when she first opened her doors to her current number of 78. But two weekends ago came Bain and the Starlight Dance Studio’s crowning achievement.
That’s when the Starlight girls, consisting of mostly local kids, traveled to the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando to compete with 57 other dance teams from around the nation from as far west as Texas and as far north as Minnesota in the Dance Contest of Champions.
So how did they stack up? How does beating out 57 other teams and bringing home the first place trophy sound.
“I had no idea going up there what would happen,” said Bain. “We have had plenty of local competitions around South Florida but this was the first time we had ever gone to an out-of-town competition and competed against teams from around the country. We just went up there looking to compete and make a good accounting of ourselves and wound up doing a whole lot more than that.”
Starlight, competing in its third of five scheduled events this year, brought a total of four teams to the competition, Minnies, Tinys, Juniors and Teens, ranging in age from 3 all the way to 14.
With eight judges looking on, the Teens and Juniors took third place overall, the Tinys took second and the big winners were the Minnies, who took first place in their age group.
There were individual high finishers as well. Carissa Galan (age 6) took fourth place in her age group, while 7-year-old Brianna Aldana took first place.
Gwendolyn Odin and Victoria Alexandra De la Torre, both 10 years old, took first place as a duet.
The judging criteria consisted of technique, sportsmanship, stage presence, difficulty of dance, costume and finally musicality.
“I’m just so proud of all of our girls for representing us so well,” said Bain. “This isn’t something that just happened overnight. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into this. Most of these girls are putting in five or six hours a week coming in here to work on routines.”
Bain was not about to take all of the credit herself either as she made sure she gave credit to her two co-instructors, Jeanette Mendoza and Ariana Martinez.
“It’s been a team effort all the way and Jeanette and Ariana have just been tremendous,” said Bain. “All three of us are very appreciative of the trust that the parents have put in us to develop these girls and bring out the best in their abilities.”
As far as what winning a national competition can mean for her girls, Bain did not hesitate.
“It means everything,” said Bain. “This opens up so many other doors, you have no idea. From scholarship money to getting invited to other competitions, it’s going to create so many more opportunities.”
Next up for Bain’s Starlighters will the Night of Stars on June 14 at the Miracle Mile Theater in Coral Gables.
“We’re excited and looking forward to future competitions,” Bain said. “These girls will only continue to grow and get better as they gain more experience.”