Footwork and Fundraising
In competitive dance fundraising is part of the routine, as Leland’s Coastal Dance Academy very well knows.
At the end of June, at their season’s final event, hundreds of young people from several Southeastern states journeyed to the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center to dance.
Toting large suitcases on roller wheels, they arrived with multiple costumes, convertible tights, stage makeup and glue-on eyelashes, hair accessories and clip earrings, an assortment of shoes for ballet, jazz or tap and something called ‘turners,’ which cover the ball of the foot and are secured by elastic. Coaches, choreographers and family members in matching studio-specific T-shirts added to the procession.
This was the Showstopper’s East Coast Final, one of many competitive “nationals” held throughout the country. Other competitive dance organizations — Imagine Dance Challenge, Beyond the Stars, Southeast Showdown and more — also hold springtime competitions and a final event.
Showstopper hosted four nationals nationwide in 2022. Its 2023 schedule lists more than 50 regular-season competitions from Pittsburg to Anaheim.
It’s big business.
Coastal Dance Academy in Leland and several other Brunswick County dance studios field competitive teams that participate in three, maybe four, events a year followed by a nationals.
In 2022 Coastal Dance Academy’s Elite Team had 22 dance team members. Next season it will have 35. Fourteen competed in Myrtle Beach.
Competition dancers take studio classes in several disciplines, and their competition expenses are many, including studio tuition, team tuition, choreography, entry fees, costumes, travel and hotels.
Fund-raising is vital.
This summer, Coastal’s Booster Club sent letters to potential supporters asking for donations. The letter said the goal was $20,000. Like other area studios, Coastal’s annual main fundraising campaign is padded with additional efforts.
“So, last year we started the booster club,” says Crystal Dameron, a booster club president at Coastal and mom to a 13-year-old dancer. “We had to apply for an EIN number and go through the process to become a nonprofit, and you have to write bylaws. You have monthly meetings. Fundraising also helps pay for things like team jackets, or equipment or expenses when they’re going to certain competitions as a group.”
The team also has bake sales, craft sales, car washes and other fundraisers.
“Twenty thousand may seem like a lot, but not when you divide it by 35,” Dameron says.
The Myrtle Beach event, June 27 through July 2, Dameron says, was on the border between daily commute and staying overnight. “Some commuted and some just stayed,” she says. “My daughter competed one morning at 8:30, so we stayed the night before. Doors open at 7 a.m., and most competitions run ahead of schedule throughout the day, so our director likes us to be there two hours ahead of [performance] time.”
Dameron’s daughter is 13, has been dancing 10 years and has competed since the team’s inception four years ago. This year she had eight different competition dances and six recital numbers.
“People don’t consider dance a sport, but I think dance is just like a sport in that they have to condition, they have to prepare themselves, they have to have the muscles and the physical exertion that’s required of their bodies just like in any other sport,” Dameron says. “They do group dances, but if your child wants a solo, or duo or trio, those are more expensive.”
Dameron says her daughter wants to own a studio someday and be a dance teacher. That means college and business courses.
Meanwhile, as with other studios in Brunswick and surrounding areas, the pre-season focus is fundraising.
“We have a dance sister program where the team girls get to mentor each other,” Dameron says. “The youngest is 4 and the oldest is 18, and the team is divided into three groups. They build bonds, and they’re there for each other. And when they learn new moves, and that light bulb goes off, it’s a celebration. We’re a whole dance family. The moms have become the best of friends. And when we go off to competitions, we all get to celebrate our kids, and what they’ve worked so hard for.”
Can you help?
The nonprofit Coastal Dance Academy Elite Team is need of sponsorships and donations. If you can help, contact the Booster Club at email@example.com.