Cider Mill 5th grader Sienna Morris may have taken the summer off from school, but that doesn’t mean she took the summer off from working hard. The 10-year-old spent the months of June, July and August training and competing in national dance competitions in New York City and on the East coast. The hard work paid off though, as Morris placed among the top scorers at two dance nationals during the summer break.

Her first competition was the New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA), an 8-day national event in New York City at the end of June and early July. During the week, there were group, solo & title competitions as well as several days of convention classes taught by leaders in the dance industry. Morris was entered into a Title Competition where kids of various age groups are required to perform a solo (which counts as 40% of their score), and complete a ballet audition (30% of their score) and jazz audition (30% of their score). Dancing against 120 peers in the 7-10 year old age group who came from all over the U.S. and Canada, Morris finished among the Top 10 with a high score for her contemporary solo and performing well in her auditions. In the National Competition for high score, her lyrical solo placed 10th.

She had only one day after the NYCDA competition finished to pack her bags and fly to the next national competition, The Dance Awards, in Orlando, FL. In the title competition at the Dance Awards, which also consisted of performing a solo, and auditioning in ballet & jazz, Morris competed among 150 dancers aged 8-10 and finished in the top 20. In the National Competition for high score, her lyrical solo placed 6th.

In her short 10 years, Morris has put in the hard work because it’s been her passion ever since she can remember.

“I always loved to dance when music was playing. My older sister took dance classes and was a cheerleader, so I definitely looked up to her and imitated her. I always put on shows for my family in our basement,” she says, adding that she did give soccer, softball and cheerleading a try, but she really loved dance and gymnastics.

She started taking dance classes when she was just 3-years-old at Wilton’s Conservatory of Dance. Now, as a student at Westchester Dance Academy (WDA) in Mt. Kisco, NY, Morris trains an average of 15 hours per week studying ballet, pointe, lyrical, jazz, contemporary, hip hop and tap.

“It is a lot of work and a lot of time, but I love it so much and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” she says. “I want to be an amazing dancer and if I want to have great technique and be really good, I have to work for it.”

In the lead up to the summer’s national competitions, she first took part in ten regional events throughout the East coast between Dec. 2016 and May 2017, dancing in eight group numbers and two solos. Morris’ solos, both choreographed by WDA’s owner and artistic director, Kelly Burke-Fitzpatrick. She consistently earned high scores all season, including five first place, two second place, and two third place finishes. She also earned special judges awards, technique awards, and convention scholarships.

Throughout the entire season, Morris says she really enjoyed making new friends with other dancers from all over the country, and was excited to compete at this level. She knows it was a priceless opportunity to learn from all of the teachers and professional dancers at the conventions she attended.

Working with them helped set an example for where she hopes her life leads. “My dream is to work as a dancer in New York City when I’m older.”

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