Dance competition comes to Missouri Theater

Andrew Gaug, St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.
·3 min read

Apr. 8—With some cities limiting the capacity for events, St. Joseph is getting some performances that don't normally come here.

For example, the New York-based Legacy Dance Championships' regional tour usually comes to Kansas City. However, COVID restrictions called for it to be moved to a venue that allowed for more of an audience.

"What's the point if mom and dad can't come?" David Sanders, the owner of Legacy Dance Championships, said. "St. Joe has a limited capacity, but it's not a bad capacity."

The regional competition will be held Friday through Sunday, April 9 to 11, at the Missouri Theater, 715 Edmond St., bringing in dancers from all around Kansas and Missouri.

Sanders said the genres of dance will span the gamut, including ballet, tap, jazz, musical theater, hip-hop, contemporary acrobatics and clogging.

"It's kind of like 'So You Think You Can Dance' on steroids. That's the best way I can describe it," he said.

Having started Legacy Dance Championships 15 years ago, Sanders knows something of TV, as he was featured on "Star Search" and was the lead dancer on the Pete Wentz-hosted MTV music video showcase "FMTV." He also has performed on national tours of shows like "A Chorus Line" and "West Side Story."

Sanders said he loves the encouragement and character that dance gives to others, which is why 2020 was a tough year without the usual competitions. To be able to bring them back to the stage is an accomplishment in itself, he said.

"You know what they've been through all year? They spent God knows how many hours on Zoom dance classes and dancing at home in front of a laptop. I expect them to feel it was all worth it," he said.

Having come back in late 2020, Legacy Dance Championships is offering dancers a chance at normalcy and the competitive spirit they're used to having, Sanders said.

"To be able to be back out there and provide an outlet for these kids, it means the world to us, it means the world to them," he said. "These young dancers work really, really hard. They spend a lot of time in the studio. There's not a lot of outlets for them, other than to compete."

To pull off the competition, Sanders said the group adheres to all COVID-19 guidelines, which means temperature checks, slotting groups far enough apart so they don't mingle with others and live-streaming events for parents who aren't able to come to the venue.

Figuring the capacity of each venue in every city around the country where the company performs has been a headache. But it's worth it to have it happen.

"We've been dealing with everyone's laws and capacities and all that fun stuff, which has been a big effort. Every state is different. Every county is different. It's crazy," he said. "The idea is to keep the amount of dancers in these blocks small so that you can have an audience."

To attend, families of the dancers have to sign a waiver and get their temperature checked. Sanders said they want to limit the audience to strictly friends and family and not have people come in from off of the street.

"It's basically a closed event. During a normal season, our venues are always open to anyone who wants to come in and watch. But (because of) COVID, it's pretty closed up," Sanders said.

The competition will be streamed at www.legacy dancechampionships.com.

Andrew Gaug can be reached at andrew.gaug@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @NPNOWGaug