May 20, 2018
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Sanford clogging team to audition for NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent’

By Tammy Wells, Journal Tribune

SANFORD, Maine — An invitation to audition for a national television show is enough to make a team of seven young women want to, well, start dancing.

And, after all, it is what they have been doing for years.

On Friday, the members of the all-star clogging team from Northern Explosion Dance and Fitness will be dancing in New York City, auditioning for the hit show “America’s Got Talent.”

It is a heady thought for these young women and dance studio owner Heather Torno Roux.

They’ll have 90 seconds — that’s right, just a minute and a half — to wow show officials.

“This is an all-or-nothing big opportunity,” said Roux, during a break in a rehearsal Monday night.

The team members — Alex Smith, Kayla Thompson, Brianna Clark, Kaylee Balcewicz, Courtney Camire, Brooke Holmes and Tori Boissonneault — hail from Lebanon, Sanford and North Berwick. They’ve been dancing anywhere from five years to 13 years.

Roux, who started her dance studio 14 years ago in her hometown of Lebanon, said she decided to put together an all-star team last summer, just a couple of months after moving into the new studio she built on Route 4 in Sanford. She and another Northern Explosion instructor, Monique Martineau, have been working with the team since August.

“Some students just love to dance,” she said of their dedication, adding that the team has been doing try-outs and taking part in competitions since its formation.

The all-star team normally meets twice a week, said Roux, but this week practice has been stepped up. They’ve been rehearsing two hours or more every day since Friday, not long after team members got the word about the audition.

“They’re sore,” said Roux from all the practice.

But it will be worth all the extra work. The team, their instructors and some chaperones will travel to New York City after school Thursday, audition Friday and then spend some time in the city before heading back to Maine.

The dancers say they’ll be ready and plan to present the very best of New England clogging, and more.

The NBC reality show welcomes open auditions, where folks can sign up to perform for a chance to be on the show, according to their website, but this case was different — the dancers from Northern Explosion were invited to perform.

It started with an email. Show producers were looking for more cloggers, especially New England-style cloggers, whose routines are different from southern cloggers, said Roux, and the invitation to audition came last Thursday.

Reactions from team members were as merry as one might expect. Roux said she put out an email to them late Thursday night.

Tori Boissonneault read the email that night.

“I said, ‘I’m so in,’” she said, during the rehearsal break.

“I screamed,” said Kaylee Balcewicz, who read her email Friday morning and later sent a text to her fellow team member Brooke Holmes, who was taking an exam at school that day.

Courtney Camire read the email while in class and promptly told her classmates about the audition.

“My heart was pounding,” upon reading the email, said Kayla Thompson.

The team has been offered an “express pass” to the auditions, which means they can enter St. John’s Center Studio without having a lengthy wait, said Roux. If they make it through the first round, more auditions will be necessary before they can be chosen for the show.

The wider community has chipped in to help. Weir’s Motors in Arundel has donated the use of a 12-passenger van, Roux said, and others in the area have made donations as well.

The team was scheduled to perform live on the Good Day Maine show this morning on the local Fox affiliate.

Then, Thursday afternoon, they’re off for their big moment.

“It’s an opportunity, to say the least,” said Roux. “It’s not every day casting producers seek you out.”

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