Next week Nanaimo dancers Jacksun Fryer and Deeya Sharma will be seen performing on the biggest stage of their young careers.
Sharma, 12, and her group Minibots, including four Vancouver dancers, and 15-year-old Fryer’s duo Funkanometry, with dancer Carlow Rush from Cowichan, are appearing on the NBC program World of Dance, which begins airing Feb. 26.
In the competition, dancers of all ages and styles face off for a shot at a $1 million prize. The judges are pop singer and dancers Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo and Derek Hough.
Fryer and Sharma were scouted while at an event in Los Angeles last May and auditioned in Vancouver in the summer. They both said they couldn’t believe they made the cut.
“We were just in major shock,” said Sharma, who has only been a member of Minibots for a year. “We couldn’t process it properly. We were screaming, jumping around the room. We didn’t know how to react so it was kind of crazy.”
“I didn’t know what I wanted to feel, it was just so many emotions,” Fryer added.
Fryer has been dancing for nine years, while Sharma has been a dancer for six years. Both dance at Nanaimo’s Vibe Dance Studio.
Vibe owner Serra Stewart said she feels like the “proud mama” having seen Fryer and Sharma’s progress and growth over the years. She said she was in the audience crying during Funkanometry’s performance.
“I have the best job in the world because I basically get to see these littles grow up and then find themselves,” she said. “And honestly I feel like I’ve known for a long time that some of these kids really need to be seen in the limelight, so they deserve it.”
A.J. (MegaMan) Kambere has been coaching both dancers for years. He said he wasn’t surprised they made it past the audition because he knows how talented they are. He said he wants the rest of the world to know as well.
“A lot of the dancers here on the Island are as talented as those in big cities,” he said. “So for them to go on TV, the biggest thing is exposure – for people to see that there is other talent, not just in Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Toronto.”
Kambere said his advice for his dancers was “to be calm, not too excited, to stay focused and mentally ready for the show.”
Sharma said her dance crew has grown closer as a result of the competition, since they haven’t danced together for long and the Strait of Georgia keeps her away from her teammates. Fryer said hearing the crowd before going on stage to face the celebrity judges was an adrenaline rush.
Both dancers said their experience on World of Dance was stressful and exciting, and they’ll get to relive it all when they tune in on Feb. 26.
“I think it’s going to feel kind of weird, though, but for sure I’ll have to watch it,” Fryer said.
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