Cori Jack, owner/director of Dance Forum South in Smithville, Galloway Township, looks forward to the day when dancers from her studio can engage in competitive contests in Atlantic County instead of traveling to Cape May and Ocean counties, Ocean City, Md., Lancaster, Pa. and other areas.

Paul Morris and Patrick Azzara, of Hammonton, will satisfy that need this spring when their new company, DanceSational, sponsors its initial competitive events.

"The kids get the performance experience," said Jack, whose dance studio has been in Smithville for more than 25 years. "As much as we get them on stage and performing, the better off they are, because this is what they train for."

DanceSational will showcase dance groups from around the country in venues along the East Coast, including Atlantic County. Events will feature three competitive levels - novice or recreational, intermediate and advanced. DanceSational supplies the backstage crew, judges, stage and venue. The first contest, scheduled for Feb. 15 in Fairfax, Va., was canceled because of bad weather.

During the next three months, DanceSational contests are planned in Atlantic City, Mays Landing and Voorhees, Camden County, but the locations still need to be finalized, Azzara said.

"It's a competitive dance company where kids come and show their talent and are judged,"Azzara said. "It's mainly for the youth. It's a competition company. There are so many in the area, but there is not (one) in Atlantic County."

Azzara and Morris also own the Paul Morris Dancexplosion studio in Hammonton.

"Our kids go into these different competitions, and I went to them, and I said, 'You know what, we don't have one of these around this area, so I decided to open one up myself. ... There are thousands of dance schools in the area," said Azzara, who came up with the idea in July.

They have dance teams that compete against each other to be recognized as the best, Azzara said.

"It's for the youth and the kids. It's an opportunity for them to compete and to help them maintain what they need to know (dancewise) for their educational purposes," Azzara said. "It's great for the kids to be introduced to this in their local area instead of having to travel so far to different events."

Word will be spread about the competitions through a website - www. - and a Facebook page - www.

Azzara mailed postcards with his company's contact information to local dance companies telling them the contests are coming. Winners will be awarded trophies, plaques and cash prizes and will benefit from the performing experience that may allow them to participate in national competitions, Azzara said.

The Wildwoods Convention Center is one of the places that currently hosts dance competitions. This is not including cheerleading or gymnastics contests.

In July, the Dance X'plosion Dance Competition and the Sophisticated Productions Natn'l Dance Competitions attracted 500 and 1,000 participants, respectively, said Ben Rose, director of marketing and public relations of Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority.

The municipality that hosts these contests derives an economic benefit from the parents and siblings who arrive to see their loved ones compete.

Several of the Dance Forum South students told Jack they were interested in the DanceSational competitions.

"We do shows throughout the year, but also when the kids go to these competitions, they see other children out there, other children that are very good, and it gives them the incentive to work harder and to want to improve themselves and be better," Jack said.

Contact Vincent Jackson:


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