TD dancers make Moda Center their stage

The Dalles Dance Club Academy members took center stage at the Moda Center in Portland for a routine in front of a large crowd of Trail Blazer fans. In all, 47 dancers, ranging from ages 8-18, took part in the six-minute performance.

Normally, dancers and cheerleaders perform at smaller venues in front of mainly family and friends.

There are some nerves, some sweating and nervous anticipation, but the adrenaline is pumping.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, 47 members of The Dalles Dance Club Academy were given an opportunity to show off a six-minute routine in front of a capacity crowd of 19,359 at the Moda Center in Portland during a Trail Blazers basketball game.

Talk about an adrenaline spike.

Nathan Nañez, of The Dalles High School, is still beaming about that night.

“As this is my senior year in dance, dancing on the Blazer court was a privilege that has given me memories that I will take with me and keep throughout all my life,” he said.

The male and female dancers, ranging from ages 8-18, had been preparing a routine full of tumbling, stunts and jazz to a “Grease” theme.

The first time Academy instructor Kristi Maley sent a group down to a Blazers game, the representatives were so impressed that they send yearly email invitations.

Before hitting the court for their routine, the dancers were able to rub elbows with the Blazer cheerleaders and spent time in their warm-up area going over any final plans.

From there, everything is on a schedule, so time is of the essence.

After warming up, the dancers line up off the court, and then they are rushed to center court.

“They literally have to run onto the court in seconds, get set and dance,” Maley said. “Not only did they perform really well, their professionalism underneath the Moda Center was beyond my expectations. This was an all-around great experience. I love the opportunity to teach the dancers about performing and not just competing.”

Because the Blazer staff exhibited great hospitality, heaped praise on the dance team and expressed excitement in their performance, Maley said that plans are already in the works for next year.

Now that she got her big stage initiation, TD junior cheerleader Giselle Schwartz has caught the bug.

“It was an exhilarating experience. One that I will never forget,” Schwartz said. “Our team is super grateful for the opportunity and I can’t wait for the chance to dance there again.”

Lizzy Olivan wears a lot of hats in the dancing and cheer world and is also an assistant under Maley at the academy.

She has also dealt with leukemia, something that served as an inspiration to the program and is her driving force to making the most out of life’s opportunities.

“Dancing for the Blazer game was a huge honor, and a really big exciting experience that I’ll never forget,” Olivan said.

A few years back, Olivan was one of five kids selected to design Nike products, and now that she is in remission, she was recently asked to model this year’s designs.

Last weekend, she was at Nike headquarters for the reveal of the products, at an event called “Doernbecher’s Freestyle.”

The club offers ballet, an all-boys hip hop class, as well as tumbling, tap, jazz and cheer classes.

For more information, interested parties can email kristi.maley@gmail.com.

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