Since its inaugural season in 2012, Leap! National Dance Competition has been all about the little things.
"I wanted to have a 'boutique' competition. One where we went out to only one city every weekend, so I could be there myself, and we could really get to know the teachers and watch their kids progress from year to year," says Leap! executive director Drew Vamosi. According to Vamosi, thoughtful details make all the difference, especially during a global pandemic that's thrown many dancers' typical comp-season schedules for a loop. That's why Leap! prides itself on features like its professional-quality set design, as well as its one-of-a-kind leaping competition, where dancers can show off their best tricks for special cash and merchandise prizes.
When 2020's competition season was abruptly cut short due to the pandemic, Vamosi got right to work preparing for the next. With its 10th Anniversary Tour, Leap plans to double down on its detail-oriented approach to deliver a seamless and safe 2021 competition season, as more and more dancers finally get the return-to-the-comp-stage moment they've been dreaming of.
Dancers at Leap!'s new Ambassador Series convention (Courtesy Leap!)
"I spent most of our downtime working on our relationships with venues, as well as safety protocol," Vamosi explains. That protocol includes limiting audience members, requiring both dancers and audience members to undergo temperature checks and wear masks at all times (except when performing), adding more awards ceremonies throughout the weekend, and taking a whole new approach to scheduling.
In order to minimize close contact between dancers from different studios, Leap! groups together pods of only two to three studios to compete all of their group numbers at a time, with separate, sanitized dressing rooms for each team. That way, dancers can avoid the quick-change insanity that comes with group numbers back-to-back, while also avoiding the classic four-hours-between-your-two-group-routines dilemma. "Studios like being able to come in and get almost everything done at once safely, while also still having that aspect of competition that keeps it from feeling like a recital," Vamosi explains.
It wouldn't be a proper 10th anniversary without some new tricks. Launching this season is Leap!'s brand-new competition/convention experience, known as the Ambassador Series. "We're excited to offer the thrill of competition, and the education of a convention, all in one experience," says Vamosi. To help dancers make the most of their weekend, Leap! will hold the convention after the competition portion, rather than during or before. "That way, dancers have gotten everything else out of the way and don't need to be worried about competing later on," Vamosi says. And Leap! has something special for teachers and studio owners as well: a private luncheon hosted by Vamosi himself, featuring an open-forum discussion about the dance studio and competition industries. Leap!'s next Ambassador Series event will be held in Bismarck, ND, in April 2021.
Visit Leap!'s website to learn more about the 2021 season, including the competition's new Ambassador Series.