Each year at their National Competition in New York City, The Dance Awards announces one studio as its national "Studio Of The Year" winner. Recognized for its excellence in Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Contemporary, and Specialty Ballroom categories, Center Stage Performing Arts Studio is proud to have received this prestigious award.


Published July 25, 2012, The Daily Herald by Audra Rassmussen, Correspondent

Center Stage Performing Arts Studio won the nationally coveted "Studio Of The Year" award last week in New York City. Center Stage's intricate choreography, physical stamina, fluent technique, sensational costumes and talented kids from Utah dominated on the Beacon Theater Stage in New York. There were more than 170 studios from eight countries including Canada, Costa Rica, Guam and Mexico competing for the top prize "Studio of the Year" award and the $25,000 in prize money.

"This has been in the works for many, many years," said Alex Murillo, owner of Center Stage since 1991. "We have won so many awards prior to that we thought that we would be able to go to New York City and be competitive. We did not realize how many studios would be there and we were excited to see the level of competition rise. We were excited because we would be able to gauge ourselves to see how we could compete against the best. And we are the best."

Center Stage fought their competition on stage adhering to the disciplined moves of ballet, the energy of Latin ballroom, the chasing sensation of jazz, and the beat of hip hop.

"I feel that we have a stand-out factor because we have light and excitement and enthusiasm," said Janalyn Memmott, one of the directors for the company. "We are well rehearsed and clean. But we also have a fire. Center Stage has a fire. We have dedication across all the different genres. That is really one of the strengths of Center Stage."

There was a lot of anticipation leading up to the awards ceremony with a nine-day competition. Center Stage won the award with strong performances in all genres and with dancers ranging in age from 8 to 18.

"We scored high enough throughout the week to be in the top five to compete for the Studio of the Year Award," said Memmott. "We did not have any weaknesses. We were strong in ballet. We were strong in jazz, strong in contemporary. We were the most consistent. Across the board and in all the genres we were the most consistent."

Jenna Johnson brought home the national award for the top female dancer. Ruger Memmott was the first runner up in the senior male category.

In a dance known for its hip action, energetic and sassy flair, fast-paced rhythms and playful movements Utahns Tristen Sosa, 15, and Cheyenne Murrillo, 17, brought home the national title for pre-champ Latin dance. Sosa started dancing only three years ago with an interest in hip hop and began Latin dancing only last October when he began dancing with Cheyenne.

"We have been dancing together for less than a year," said Murrillo. "I was shocked and very happy because we have not been partners very long."

"It was a party," said Sosa. "Party all night long. We are really proud. Really proud."

Dancers at Center Stage are encouraged to be the best they can be and are taught to be supportive and energized by those dancing around them.

"You become more proud of yourself and what you are accomplishing because the people next to you are just as good or better than you are so you continue to push yourself so that you can be the best that you can be. And Center Stage provides a stage for that," Murillo said.

Center Stage has a legacy of developing talented dancers. Several youth from the studio have danced in Disney movies, on Broadway, in Las Vegas shows, "Dancing with the Stars," Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" and many more. Center Stage prides itself in developing young dancers' self esteem and creating enthusiasm, excitement and a desire to excel in a world that they love.

"We are excited," Murillo said. "These dancers are dedicated, hard-working. It is a lifestyle for them. I am very proud of them."


Published July 25, 2012, The Daily Herald by Audra Rassmussen, Correspondent