Yes, it’s ‘True’: SLW dancers dominate worlds

They went. They danced. They won. St. Lucie West-based True Crew Dance Company’s competition team dominated the World Championship held at the Meadowlands Expo Center in New Jersey, bringing home several titles.
The 45-strong team ranging in age from 4 to 17 danced against the best from the around the world, including those from Canada, China and Australia, to name a few.
Their production of “Jungle Crew” earned them a place in the Final Top 5 and 4th Overall World Dance Champions in the Advanced Grand Line category. The number’s choreography also netted studio owner Toni (Pressimone) Szparaga the World Dance Champion Choreography Award.
The youngest dancers, those in the Petite Intermediate Small Group team, placed in the Top 10 for the World Dance Champion Performance Award for their performance of “I’m Your Girl.”
And the True Crew’s Boyz Hip Hop Team – which went to Worlds last year – was awarded Third Overall in the Teen Intermediate Small Group category with “Welcome to the Purge.”
“It was incredible,” dance studio owner Szparaga said of the experience. Only four of the performers had been to the World Championship before. “You could see the excitement.”
The Hip Hop team faced challenges, Szparaga said. During their first performance, which earned them a Final Top 5 title, one of the boys sustained an injury to the knee. Earning a Top 5 post meant performing a second time – and perform he did, sore knee and all.
During the final performance, another boy hurt his hand – but he continued.
Already, the Boyz Hip Hop team is ready to tackle their next performances in preparation of winning First Place at the World Championship next year. “I don’t normally get choked up,” Szparaga said while talking about the dancers. She said that when adults believe in children and put their ego aside, it’s amazing what the dancers can achieve.
True Crew Dance Company earned three golden tickets to perform at the championship. In May, they started fund-raising to help defray the cost of travel to New Jersey for the competition.
The days leading up to the event were chaotic, according to Szparaga. Florida had a tropical storm bearing down the Tuesday when parents were planning to fly out to New Jersey. Flights got juggled. Plans changed.
“Basically, it was a very crazy evening,” Szparaga said. By 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2, everyone from the dance company had arrived. And despite having just a short amount of time to re-acclimate from the travel, the students were prepared and focused on the competition at hand.
“They were so inspired,” said Szparaga. They took in the different languages being spoken around them, the sights of different cultures on display. But for all that could have distracted them, even the youngest dancers knew what they had to do.
The tiniest of voices kept reminding the older dancers – we’re here for the competition; stay focused; we’re representing the USA – Port St. Lucie. “Just talking about it, I get goosebumps,” Szparaga said.
Now that the team is home and rested, they are gearing up for the next competition season. To that end, True Crew Dance Company has been selected to take part in a pilot program called Create Learn Inspire, which entails setting up Internet-connected video cameras and screens so the studio and dancers can work with top choreographers from the TV competition show So You Think You Can Dance.
Students will get live feedback from the choreographers through the program.
“It’s an undertaking,” Szparaga said, but one that is expected to enhance the overall experience at the studio. “You have to stay up with the times.”
But for all the focus as of late on the competition side of the studio, Szparaga said the dance company welcomes all – those seeking recreational dance as well as those who want only to work on and develop their technique. Adults, too, are welcome to take dance classes. “You get to choose,” she said. “It’s about the students.”
True Crew Dance Company offers year-round open registration without a contract. Anyone interested in learning more about the classes offered or the competition are encouraged to email the studio at truecrew.mstoni@gmail.com or call 772-879-2739.
True Crew is located at 1914 SW Biltmore St., Port St. Lucie.

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