DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 24, 2014) – The founder and face of American Dancer Clothing Olivia Shook traveled from Cincinnati to Daytona Beach with the other members of her dance studio Just Off Broadway to compete in the Showbiz Talent Dance National Competitions the week of June 22- June 26th. The intense competitions included individual performances, as well as small and large group numbers that equated to literally hundreds of different performances that took the stage during the 12-16 hour days.
For the novice attending a dance competition of any level, let alone an intense national level event, there is a lot to take in and learn. However, for someone like Olivia Shook who has been dancing for the last twelve years and has literally grown up in the dance world, it is simply another day at the office. There is a lot of killing time with her teammates in between performances- a lot of killing time. However, there are also the key moments of getting into costume and making sure every detail is perfect, the essential stretching and warming up, running through the routine one or two more times with her teammates, that one final practice (or two) in front of the chorographer/ teacher, and finally a moment of meditation with her team as the time to take the stage draws near.
As one watches the team stretch and “mark” their dance, it’s hard not to be amazed at the seemingly relaxed attitudes of performers about to compete at the highest level of their sport. A person finds them selves wondering how the team is going to win as the dancers are making jokes with one another or as their run-throughs lack the proper intensity in their facial expressions. However, once the team takes the stage, it’s as if someone flipped a switch and they immediately erase any doubt of their commitment and intensity during the three minutes they are on stage and all eyes are on them.
To most, three minutes is over in a blink of an eye. To most, three minutes seems like an awfully short amount of time to truly showcase the amount of work that each dancer commits to a routine. However, for those lucky enough to go behind the scenes, you would see how much detail and creativity it takes to design just one three-minute routine. You would realize that most dancers at the national level are dancing in more than one number- and maybe even several. You would see how a three-minute routine might seem like an eternity to an injured dancer who just gave everything to their performance as they danced through the pain and had to be carried off the stage. In three minutes, a dancer invites you into their world, transports you to another place and time, moves you, and shows you exactly what they are made of. It takes a special breed of person to give of them selves so freely and accomplish so much in just three minutes.
After watching Olivia Shook give her all to her audience while on stage, it is of no surprise that, at the age of 15 years old, she created American Dancer Clothing in an effort to give to other dancers less fortunate than herself. American Dancer Clothing allows her the opportunity to combine her passion for dancing with her desire to support and foster the dance community- a community that has given her a lifetime of memories and happiness, even at the ripe old age of 15 years old. In fact, when asked if she had any least favorite memories, Shook replied, “I don’t. Every moment I am on stage is best moment ever.” On the contrary, when asked about her favorite memory, she was able to offer one.
“I do have one memory that stands out. When I was eight years old, I was in a dance called ‘Seasons.’ It was special because I was the youngest one in the dance, but also because all of my best friends were in it. We performed ‘Seasons’ at the National Finals Competition in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We became a small, four person team when one of my friends in the dance broke her arm and couldn’t be there with us. As is customary, we performed and awaited the results. We got 1st place overall and were invited to go to the Star Showcase where we could possibly win the entire competition for the mini division. We then had to perform our dance again. It was a special moment where all our moves were in sync- so much so, we even breathed as one. We then waited anxiously as the other dancers performed. As we gathered to hear who was champion of the mini-division, I will never forget the suspense and the nervousness. My best friend Mary Lyn and I held each other’s hands so tightly that we lost feeling in them. The announcer said ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2008 national champions at the Showstoppers Dance Competition is… SEASONS!’ We all jumped up and down with joy. It’s funny, back then we thought the trophy was so big, but actually it wasn’t as tall as my legs are now. Even so, that is one of my favorite highlights ever.”
It has been the happiness and the milestones of her dance career, such as that time in South Carolina, that has helped her overcome some hardships in her personal life- such as difficulties with her father and her parent’s divorce at a young age. However, just like the dancer who may stumble and turn an otherwise misstep into a beautiful solo number, Shook has done that with American Dancer Clothing and her dance career. While she may not know exactly where she wants to take her career (and lets be honest, did any of us know at the age of 15?), it is clear that Olivia Shook is a driven, dedicated, savvy business minded, yet caring teenager whose name will be in lights before we know it.