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Published: Wednesday, 8/8/2007

Dancing to the stars: St. Ursula student Bailie Schira wins a national dance title

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bailie Schira Bailie Schira
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Summer is a time when lots of kids put their feet up and relax.

Not Bailie Schira. Her feet took her to the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas in July, then through an intense week of dance classes and performances to win a national title in an annual competition sponsored by L.A. DanceMagic Dance Company.

"I worked really hard that whole week. My muscles were so sore," said the St. Ursula Academy sophomore who won the title of Magic Performer of the Year in the teen category (ages 12 to 15.) The same title was bestowed on winners in two other categories, one for junior dancers age 7 to 11, and the other for senior dancers age 16 and up.

Bailie, 15, is a member of the dance team at St. Ursula and studies dance at the Dance Force studio in Maumee. The daughter of Jamie Keith of Holland and Bryan Schira of Sylvania, she qualified for the national competition by winning one of the regional events held across the country by L.A. DanceMagic.

"We travel to 17 cities a year. We give classes, and kids come with their studios to compete," explained Matt Rust, executive administrator, by phone from Los Angeles. Two "Magic Performer of the Weekend" winners are named in each of the three age groups in those cities. Those winners are then eligible go to the national "Magic Performer of the Year" competition in Las Vegas, although not all of them do.

Several other Toledo and area dancers won Magic Performer of the Weekend titles at regional events in Midwest cities, but Bailie was the only one to claim a national title. Other competitive events also are held each year at the national convention. Nearly two dozen dancers representing the Dance Force traveled to Las Vegas this summer, winning a total of 50 medals, said Amy Bethel, owner/director of the Maumee dance studio.

Bailie said she won her weekend "magic performer" title in Chicago, and later won a scholarship to attend the national convention at another regional event in Detroit.

Her national title means that she can attend every regional weekend event held by L.A. DanceMagic over the coming year for free, Mr. Rust said. She'll get a chance to work with the professional dance faculty and to perform at the events.

"This is a pretty big deal," he added. "This is our way to reward the best of the best that we've seen through the year."

Jackie Sleight, owner of L.A. DanceMagic, noted that Bailie emerged as the winner from a starting pool of thousands of young dancers who compete in the Magic Performer category nationwide.

"She's someone who's committed to what she's doing," Ms. Sleight said from L.A. "She's also a spectacular dancer."

Bailie has been dancing since she was 5 years old, her mother said. "A lot of national choreographers now know her name," Mrs. Keith added.

Bailie said she gained a lot through the L.A. DanceMagic events, which in addition to competing for prizes, included learning new routines in such styles as jazz, modern lyrical, and hip-hop.

"I learned that it's not all about the winning," she observed. "I went hoping for a good experience and to learn from the teachers in the classes... My technique got better."

Contact Ann Weber at: aweber@theblade.com or 419-724-6126.



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