Kiana Smith has won gold for her dancing before, but when she went to view the results of the worldwide, online dance competition Dance Upon a Dream with her mom last week, she was nervous.
“My heart was just pounding,” said the 16-year-old former Nanoose Bay resident as her mom scrolled down the computer screen to the Seniors category. “And then the first thing that came up was (the) musical theatre (category) and I saw my picture there for my dance and I was like ‘oh my goodness, yah!’ And right underneath that was the tap (category) and I saw my picture there and I was like ‘no way!’”
It was the first ever season of the online competition, created by Dancing with the Stars (Australia) judge Joshua Horner and judged by dance stars like Tyce Diorio (Emmy award winning choreographer and guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance).
Smith, who recently moved to Nanaimo, said she entered her two recent dance videos into the competition for the opportunity to be seen by the 36 professional judges, and to get her name out there.
Smith was selected by the judges as a top 20 finalist and then winners were determined by online votes.
Smith started dancing when she was three years old and by age 12 she secured first place for her jazz performance in the Dance World Cup competition in Richmond in 2008,with a silver in the hip hop category.
Recently Smith attended the Triple Threat Dance Convention in Vancouver where her idol, tap sensation Jason Samuels Smith, awarded her with a scholarship to attend the same convention next year.
“To receive that from him…I was pretty excited,” she said.
Smith attends Vibe Dance Studio in Nanaimo and trains in ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap, hip hop and gymnastics as well as musical theatre. She also teaches jazz, tap and hip hop to young students at the school once a week, and choreographs dance routines.
Although she loves all styles of dance, Smith said tap would have to be her favourite, as she likes the freedom and creativity it allows.
“With tap shoes it’s such a simple thing: a piece of metal on your toe and on your heel, but there’s so many different ways to hit your foot to make a different sound,” she said.
Besides dancing, Smith sings in Dover Bay’s Senior Jazz Band and performs a variety of gigs around the community. Last year she also took up guitar.
Smith will be graduating a year early from Dover Bay Secondary School in June and said she plans on moving to Toronto to attend a dance school there. Although she has been accepted into a prestigious performing arts college in Los Angeles, it would be too costly, she said, even with the scholarship money she has received to date.
For her win in Dance Upon a Dream, Smith received some merchandise, two pairs of dance shoes and a $1,000 scholarship towards a dance summer school in LA.
To view Smith’s winning routines, and the winners of each category, visit www.danceuponadream.com/winners.html.