Local dancer survives competition to represent Ohio

By Breckin Wells

The Marietta Times

bwells@mariettatimes.com

Hard work and dedication. Those are the two words Chloe Stevens’ mother said she most attributes to her 15-year-old daughter, who has been chosen to represent the state of Ohio in the national “Dance Across the USA” project. Stevens was picked from 3,000 dancers across the country.

The “Dance Across the USA” project is meant to showcase the talent and natural beauty that can be found across the country. The project’s creators, and photographer Johnathan Givens, will travel the U.S., meeting dancers in each of the 50 states and taking their photo in a national park, state park or historic location in their home state.

Stevens has been dancing since she was 3 at Stacey’s Dance Studio in Marietta and said she has always seen dancing as an emotional outlet throughout her life.

“It just makes me feel good, like no matter what you’re feeling you can dance through it because there is a style for everything,” she said.

Stevens said she found out about the project through social media.

“I actually saw it on Instagram and we sent in an email and an audition photograph,” she said.

Chloe’s mother, Alicia Stevens, said the process of narrowing down the dancers was very competitive.

“It started out with 3,000 kids who entered and then they ended up narrowing it down to a smaller group and then they narrowed it down further from there to three or four kids from each state,” she said.

The national project will not only promote dancers across the country, but it will raise money for the state national parks and the National Endowment for the Arts through a book that will be published of all the dancers photographed in one of their state’s national parks.

“It’s a really cool project because it’s going to raise money for the National Parks but it’s also going to get a lot of popularity for dance in a way because not a lot of people know about it,” said Stevens. “People are going to buy the book to raise money but they are going to see what dancers do and how they do it.”

When she’s not doing schoolwork, Chloe practices in the studio four hours a day Monday through Thursday.

“It’s just a joy to watch her dance, because she loves it and she works so hard at it and just to see her hard work come together when she’s on stage is just a really joyous experience,” said Alicia. “I am so proud of her.”

Stacey Johnson, Owner of Stacey’s Dance Studio,” has watched Chloe not only grow as a dancer, but as a person too.

“Chloe as a person went from a very determined child, she was not shy, and it was wonderful to watch her take all of that and turn it into confidence,” said Johnson. “It was a way of her saying ‘I want to be the best Chloe I can be so watch me do this’, or she would say ‘how do you this’, and then she would go home and come back and it wouldn’t be perfect but it was so much better.”

Stevens hopes to be a professional dancer, and is currently looking into schools such as the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

“To see her on stage you actually get to see her spirit and her. It’s a wow moment for me to be able to say I’ve witnessed that, from her tripping over her own feet, to winning an overall award. It’s a huge honor to be able to witness that,” said Johnson.

Stevens will be doing her photo session with photographer Johnathan Givens on Sept. 2 in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

To make donations to the national project visit danceatusa.com/donate/.