Teen tests her abilities against elite dancers at Junior Miss Dance contest
November 7, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
Katia Lucas, a 13-year-old from Snoqualmie Middle School, represented the Pacific Northwest in the Dance Masters of America Junior Miss Dance contest in August.
Lucas earned a spot after winning the Pacific Northwest version of the contest in December. That was Lucas’ second pageant ever.
The local pageant, for girls ages 9-12, was held near Factoria, while the national version occurred in Anaheim, Calif.
At the contest, she performed a jazz dance number, the same routine she performed in Factoria and has performed throughout her career as a dancer, which began nine years ago.
“It was an amazing opportunity to be with all the winners from the other regions,” Katia said. “You get to learn how to work with people you’re not used to; you learn to cope with different people, people not the same from your dance studio. It’s not people you have known before, and you get to be friends with them.”
Shaun Lucas, Katia’s mom, loved seeing her daughter on stage in Mickey Mouse’s hometown, even if she didn’t place among the top competitors.
“I cried my eyes out,” she said. “Just the accomplishment of competing against all those girls, it was so exciting. Taking the whole family down to Disneyland and just experience it with her.”
The contest, Shaun said, bases its choices on merit and ability.
“It’s all done based on how artistic the girls were, and that’s impressive,” she said. “If you were from a lower-class family you would never know it.”
The environment is competitive, but you would also never know it, Katia added.
“Everyone wants to win, but you kind of hide it,” Katia said. “You try to be nice to everyone, of course.”
Besides the jazz performance, the girls had interviews in front of judges in formal attire. Then they performed on stage.
“You had to wear stage makeup so people can see your features from offstage, otherwise you looked like a ghost,” Katia said. “It was really cool.”
The hardest part was having the family close by but not too close by.
“I was in a hotel, and you were mostly on your own,” she said. “It was kind of hard to find where you had to go and always had to be on time. If you were late, you got docked off points.”
Still, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Shaun said. Katia said losing did not begin to disappoint her.
“They were amazing, absolutely phenomenal,” she said of her competitors in Anaheim. “I would have been very surprised if I won.”
Some competitors showed up pressured by their dance studios to win the contest. Katia said that was not the case for her.
“For me, it was more about the experience, and just having fun with this,” she said. “Not really caring too much and just trying your hardest.”
Katia recommended the contest for other girls,
“Don’t think about it as a winning experience,” she said. “Just think of it as an experience to be better at what you love doing.”
She said anyone can do it, “but you have to be good, I guess.
“I have been dancing since I was 3, so it comes easier to me. If I just started dancing, I don’t know. It’s not something you can pop in and win and go to nationals.”