From left: Dylan Zalo (16), Rylin Samson (9), Maya Zalo (15). (Sam Anderson)

Cloverdale dancers set to take world stage in Germany, Denmark

Three students raising funds to go to world dance championships this fall

Three Cloverdale dancers will take to the international stage this fall as a part at the World Dance Championships.

Rylin Samson, 9, Maya Zalo, 15, and Dylan Zalo, 16, who dance out of the Dance Xpressions studio in Cloverdale, will head to Europe to compete against dancers from around the world.

The official World Dance Championships are put on by the International Dance Organization, a world organization with more than 90 member nations, representing 250,000 dancers from six continents.

Canada has sent a national team to the competition since the 1990s.

Siblings Maya and Dylan will compete in the World Hip Hop Championships in Brondby, Denmark from Oct. 17 – 21, and Rylin will travel to Riesa, Germany for the World Show Dance competition from Nov. 20 – 25.

This is nine-year-old Rylin’s seventh season with Xpressions — she’s been dancing at the studio since she was two-years-old. And it’s not her first trip across the pond either. Rylin competed in Show Dance at worlds in Riesa, Germany last year, and she looks forward to returning.

Show Dance, which Rylin described as a mix of jazz and musical theatre, can incorporate “lots and lots of acting,” which is her favourite part.

Maya has been to worlds before as well. Two years ago, she competed in Riesa in tap dance, and placed third with her team.

Ask Rylin and Maya about Riesa, and they’ll say the competition had “really good churros” and “the best chicken nuggets.”

But when the laughter stops, they talk about the joy of working with Team Canada, and of being able to travel to a different country and experience something completely different from home.

“Riesa is way different from Cloverdale,” said Rylin. “The architecture is completely different, it’s not as modernized as here.”

Although this isn’t the first time the studio has sent students to international competitions, this year they are sending three students, which is the most they have ever sent in a single year.

Dylan may not have been to Riesa before, but he was remarkably level-headed when he spoke with The Reporter, with noticeably less nerves than his fellow dancers. He said he’s looking forward to getting to dance, nevermind the audience of thousands of people.

The auditions for Team Canada were intense, especially in the hip hop category, said Maya. She was more nervous to audition for hip hop this year more than she was two years ago when she auditioned for tap.

“Everyone was so good,” she said. “I mean, everyone was amazing for tap as well. It’s just, the calibre of competitors in hip hop out here is insane.”

Dylan, however, kept his cool, taking to the audition process a bit differently from his sister.

“I was excited,” he said.

Not nervous at all?

“I was just ready to do it.”

The grueling rigour of choreography week is in the past, but all three students are constantly at practice to perfect their routines.

Rylin has a weekly rehearsal on Sunday for two and a half hours, and Maya and Dylan have practices that go from 8 p.m. to midnight on the weekends.

Although the dancers couldn’t go into detail about what their routines look like, Maya described the hip hop routine as “powerful.”

The hip hop team includes 26 dancers moving in formation. The judges look for not only individual execution but also how the group moves as a whole.

As well as competing in the larger group, siblings Maya and Dylan will compete as a duo.

“We learn to a beat, and I think it’s a minute an a half that we have to learn,” said Maya. “All the duos are on the stage at the same time, and they just eliminate people.”

“We have to do our best to make sure everybody watches us,” said Maya.

The Dance Xpressions dancers are holding a pub night event to raise money to help them go to the competitions — the cost to go to worlds per dancer runs about $4,000.

On Sunday night (Sept. 24), from 5 to about 8 p.m., Cloverdale is invited to come down to The Henry (5708 176 Street). The $20 ticket will get you a burger, fries and a drink. There will be a 50/50 and a raffle, with giveaways including sporting events tickets, art and electronics.