Rifle-based dance team nabs World Dance Championship title | PostIndependent.com

Rifle-based dance team nabs World Dance Championship title

A senior team representing the Full Throttle Dance Company, a dance studio based in Rifle, competes during the 2021 World Dance Championships in New Jersey.
Courtesy of Brandi Donelson

A dance team based in Rifle has achieved international success.

After thinking they took runner-up to conclude the 2021 World Dance Championship, an annual competition that invites dance teams from all over the world to compete head to head, Full Throttle Dance Company was informed Tuesday that they took first place.

A computer glitch reported Full Throttle as runner-ups, but their senior team (ages 15 to 19) actually captured the first-place crown. The good news came days after Full Throttle took the stage at the Meadowlands Exposition in Secaucus, New Jersey on July 26.

“We flew all the way from Colorado and all we wanted to do every single time was win,” Full Throttle owner and main instructor Brandi Donelson said. “We finally pulled it off.”

The local Garfield County dance team first had to compete and do well in a qualifying dance competition in Denver earlier this year.

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“When you participate in one of those competitions, if you score within the top two of your competition, that’s when you get the ‘golden ticket’ to go to New York City and perform at the World Championships,” Donelson explained. “You don’t just get to go — you have to score really high in order to get there.”

The World Championship itself is crowded with many teams trying to nab gold. Donelson said that day’s competition started at 7 a.m. and didn’t finish until 3 a.m. the next day.

It’s also fair to note that some of these teams train with some of the highest quality resources in the business. Donelson said this includes the stiff competition working under the tutelage of Broadway instructors.

“We’re from a small town in Colorado and we’re not from New York, but that doesn’t mean we can’t win,” she said. “We can work our tails off too, and you can get to all those same places if you just keep pushing and don’t give up.”

Donelson believes her senior team bedazzled the seven total judges not just with a clean routine, but with a weapon a little more subtle: a simple smile.

“I feel like they drew the judges right in because they just have so much fun when they’re up there,” she said. “Even if their technique wasn’t perfect, just keep smiling because (the judges) might not have seen it.”

“They did amazing.”

Donelson has operated Full Throttle for the past seven years. Since its start, the dance studio went from having no instructors (except Donelson) to adding multiple instructors versed in jazz, ballet, lyrical tab and tumbling.

Meanwhile, Full Throttle currently instructs about 200 students, many of whom hail from either Rifle or Coal Ridge high schools.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com

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