It’s time to take a step forward to celebrate.
On June 24, Excel – a dance team from Mokena – won the Performance of the Year at the National Championship held in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Excel was founded in 1999 by Rachelle Ochsner, who formed her Street of Dreams Dance Studio in 2009. It was named after a solo title she performed at the age of 14. founder and director of her own studio. After high school, she moved to LA and eventually New York City before settling in Chicago.
“I have danced my whole life,” she said. “I started to teach [dance]when I was 14. I danced professionally until I was 24. I started to create a company, a choreography and a production when I was 25. “
Street of Dreams features eight competitive teams, from Preschool and Kindergarten to Grade 12. The studio offers a variety of ballet, jazz and hip hop.
Excel’s company is made up of dancers – or “dreamers” – aged 11 to 18. The song that won the championship at the end of June was “For the Gun”, a selection from the Broadway musical, “Chicago”.
Excel choreographer Seth Zibalese chose the song and Oschner’s son Ashton was the frontman who played the puppeteer. Ashton has been dancing since the age of 6. Now 18, he plans to pursue choreography in LA like his mother did.
His role in the winning performance required a great deal of skill and focus.
“I had to sing most of the lyrics, do different movements and really control the audience [in the performance]to involve them more in the dance, ”he said. “When I dance, I do different things leading the group. When the words are said in the song, that’s when it captures the audience. “
Meanwhile, co-director Meghan Tomasik, who started dancing with Street of Dreams at the age of 11 and has helped teach hip hop at the studio since the age of 19, helped the team to prepare for their performance by working with them to perfect their technique. .
“Work on character, make sure everyone is following the same path, and make sure everyone plays their specific role,” said Tomasik.
The national championship isn’t the company’s only achievement, as Excel alumni have secured notable dance opportunities. Jamie Overla continued to perform with Beyonce and other celebrities. Brooke Maroon has performed as a backup dancer for the Backstreet Boys, Charlie Puth, Jason Derulo and Jordan Fisher since moving to Los Angeles eight years ago.
Maroon admitted being chosen for Excel as a highlight for her.
“I just remember it boosted my confidence,” she said. “Be part of a team, I felt unstoppable and inspired every day.”
Street of Dreams Dance Studio is located at 9960 W. 191st St. Suite L in Mokena. For more information, visit https://streetofdreamsdance.com.
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