Jennifer Clarke for The Record

Local LCM student, Brooke Manuel, 18, was recently awarded the title Miss Dance of Texas through Dance Masters of America (“DMA”). DMA is a national organization comprised of “professional, certified membership . . . of artists and educators committed to the elevation of the art of dance and to provide innovative artistic experiences for the advancement of dance worldwide” (http://www.dma-national.org).  Manuel is a competitor in Chapter 3 of the organization, the South Texas Association of Dance Teachers, Inc.

Brooke Manuel attended competition for the title where she participated in several dance classes in which she learned a combination, or short routine, and then performed for the judges. She was also required to perform a solo in front of the judges, and participate in an interview that addressed a resume she provided, her dance history, and personal characteristics she possesses. Scholarships are provided based on highest scores in various dance genres in addition to the title of Miss Dance of Texas.

Manuel has competed in DMA competitions through her membership in Lorna Badon’s School of Dance, in Orange, Texas. She has danced for 16 years, and this was her second year to compete for the title. “It is a huge honor to win,” says Brooke, “because I get to represent my studio and the state.” In addition to the scholarships awarded to her through this title, Manuel will go on to compete at the national level this summer for the title of Miss Dance America. The competition is much the same format as the Texas, Chapter 3, competition, but is more intensive.

In addition to the scholarship opportunity, Brooke values the opportunity to dance with others in recitals, and competitions. While she is unsure what she will choose as a career, though she is leaning toward education, she intends to teach dance in the future. This title will provide her opportunities to attend dance schools and qualify for additional scholarship opportunities. “I may go into education, I currently teach at the studio, and this has allowed me to focus on my skills as a dancer, but also given me the opportunity to teach children,” says Manuel.

Winning the title of Miss Dance of Texas requires that Manual represent herself well as a representative of her studio and DMA, Chapter 3. She will go on to compete for the title of Miss Dance America in July at Nationals which is located in Nashville, Tennessee. She is looking forward to the competition. Her final requirement as Miss Dance of Texas will be to attend next year’s competition for her Chapter and pass down the title.

Dancing has provided many opportunities for her. “It is very good exercise,” she notes, “and it allows me to express myself.” Manuel is dancing or teaching dance every day of the week. “It is something I have always done, and it helps me just be me,” Brooke says of her experience with dance which she is passionate about to this day. Competitions have allowed her meet a lot of new people and develop lasting friendships. Her favorite genres of dance are Acro (acrobatics) and Tap at the competitions. She is most experienced in Contemporary Lyrical, of which both of solos were comprised.

Many people have supported and mentored Manuel in helping her achieve this goal. “Ms. Lorna was my biggest influence,” Manuel asserts. “She taught me everything I know, since I was little,” and Manuel was saddened by this loss earlier this year. “I would have loved to share this year with her.” Brooke has also been influenced a great deal by dance instructor, Kristin Lyons, who has helped her since she was young, choreographed her solos, and is “an awesome dancer herself,” notes Brooke. She is grateful to her teachers at the studio for their support and was also greatly impacted by Alice Grimes and Cheyenne McClarty.

Additionally, Brooke suggests that she could not have experienced this level of success without her parents. “They pushed me to be the best I can be,” she says. Her parents have spent countless hours at the studio and competitions, and both have been present to see her perform every time. Her parents encourage her to continue even when the trials are difficult. “They are always there,” says Manuel, “and remind me to get back up, even if I fall.”

Manuel worked very hard for this title, and looks forward with excitement for the next level of competition this summer.