Space will need to be made in Darcie Schulz’s dance studio for a more than 5-foot tall trophy dancers won this week at a national competition.

The studio’s oldest dancers – the Stars group – won second place in their age division Monday during a performance in the Celebration Talent Competition showdown in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

“It’s just amazing,” Schulz told The Journal Tuesday morning. “Going into the (showdown) performance, I knew if they really stepped it up, they had a shot. They were clean, strong, you could see it.”

The group of dancers from both sides of the border earned the bid for nationals in April after receiving an overall competition high score in their age division at the Duluth II Regional Competition hosted by Celebration Talent.

The performance to “300 Violin Orchestra” was first performed in the Dells Sunday by the group and earned a platinum score and first place finish. Dances are evaluated by professional judges to earn scores based on their performances. Teams can earn gold, high gold or platinum, as well as other special awards.

“Receiving a platinum score at the national level is a great result,” Schulz said.

It wasn’t until Monday the group learned their score from Sunday’s performance placed them in the top five of their category, qualifying them to compete in the showdown. There were 14 groups in their category, Schulz said.

“I knew we had a really good chance,” Schulz added. “Just getting that callback for the top five itself was just amazing.”

The trip to nationals was a first for the dance studio, which just finished its 22nd season, and Schulz said when choreographing 300 Violin Orchestra, she knew it was going to be a good piece.

“It was something I’ve never really done,” she said. “It was strong with a different look. The dancers executed it like it needed to be executed.”

Overall, Schulz said the trip to nationals was a good experience for everyone involved and one she will never forget.

“Everybody had good things to say about it,” she said. “I’m very proud of the girls.”

Dancer of the year finalist

In addition to the Stars’ performance, Callahan Armstrong, a 2019 graduate of Fort Frances High School, was named a dancer of the year finalist in April to compete in the Dells on a solo level for a performance to “I Just Want to be a Star” from Nunsense, the musical.

“I got to work with the most talented people and it was a honor to be surrounded by such talent,” she said.

Armstrong didn’t make it to the top five for the honor, however, she earned a score of 93 out of 100, won the most photogenic award, a $50 scholarship and an experience she’ll never forget.

“It was so exciting,” she said. “Darcie is the reason for all of this happening. I couldn’t have done it without her and I couldn’t ask for a better teacher... It’s a beautiful way to say goodbye.”

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