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Elmira dancer taps her way to the big stage

Tap dancer Emily Morden and artistic director Chrystal Galic are all smiles outside of Encore Dance Studio as the Elmira girl prepares for The International Dance Organization (IDO) World Tap Championships . [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

Elmira’s Emily Morden of Encore Dance Studios will be taking her passion for tap dancing overseas to Europe, where she will be part of Team Canada.

After a competitive qualifying audition, 14-year-old Morden received an email August 9 notifying her that she had been taken off the alternate list and was now officially on the team. She said it was a welcome – if unexpected – surprise.

“I’m very excited,” said Morden. “I’ve never been over in Europe before, so that’s really exciting, and getting to go for something that I love doing is an added bonus to it.”

The International Dance Organization (IDO) World Tap Championships will take place in Riesa, Germany November 26-30. Preparation for this “Olympics of dance” competition is already underway, with rigorous rehearsals having started last week.

Morden has already dedicated much time to it, rehearsing an average of three hours a day since she received the news. This intense rehearsal practice is nothing new to her: she has been taking part in a variety of dance types, including ballet, jazz, and musical theatre, for the past decade.

“She’s a pleasure to teach,” said Chrystal Galic, owner of Encore Dance Studios, who’s been teaching Morden dance for the past 10 years. “She’s always positive in class; she’s always a hard worker, she’s always on time, she never misses classes. She’s just a very dedicated person. So for this kind of experience to happen to this kind of person … is very, very rewarding as a teacher.

“Seeing her go is like seeing one of my kids go. We’re like one big family.”

There are two groups of dancers representing Team Canada, one from Ontario, and the other from Alberta. The IDO plays host to more than 250,000 dancers from across six continents. Only one gold, silver, and bronze medal is awarded for each division.

For the competition, Morden’s choreographer is Kim Chalovich.

As there is no government assistance for Team Canada Dance, it is up to competitors to raise funds to attend the competitions. Morden’s mother, Pam, along with Galic are discussing fundraising events to get the community involved in helping the hometown girl represent Canada on the world stage. They estimate the trip would cost approximately $10,000, after currency exchange to Euros, flight, hotel, food, and costuming – all expenses deemed worth the experience.

“She was happy to be an alternate because it was huge… before this, she only danced tap one hour a week. The other people on the team are 3-6 hours a week,” said Pam.



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