At the age of nine, a little boy from Ridgeland, named Gunner Sandifer, and his mother walked into Beaufort Academy of Dance looking for dance lessons. They drove every week, two to three times a week . Gunner started with jazz, tap and ballet. Director Aleisia Ashlaw noticed that his passion and love for dance grew over the years.
“He lives and breathes dance,” Ashlaw said. “He is talented and loves to perform and choreograph” Now, at the age of 18, he has been named Senior Male Dancer of the Year by the Tremaine Dance Conventions and Competitions President, Joe Tremaine.
Dancers from all over the country qualify at regional competitions and come together for one week in July in Orlando, Fla., for the National Dance Competition. During this week, dancers audition for scholarships and the title of Dancer of the Year.
Dancers go through a rigorous audition in ballet and jazz. After several cuts, finalists are announced and given a red ribbon. This ribbon is a symbol to young dancers that they have almost made it to the top. For teachers, it is a symbol of hard work and pride. For the staff at Tremaine Dance, it is a reminder that the staff needs to watch your every move, every step, your behavior in and out of class. It is a test to see how well you work with others and whether or not you will be an excellent representative to their company.
The finalists then have an interview with the entire Tremaine staff. They also learn a dance in one hour and perform it at the Annual Gala Banquet where Carrie Ann Inaba, a judge from “Dancing with the Stars,” Chita Rivera, and the talented actress/dancer Ann Margaret were honored for their dedication to the dance industry.
Sandifer will be traveling, training and performing with the Tremaine Staff this year. He will be headed to Houston in October and Atlanta in November. He will also be traveling to Orlando, Fla., Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles and Boston.
Anyone wishing to donate to this talented young man, please make checks payable to: Beaufort Academy of Dance, 14 Savannah Hwy Unit 8, Beaufort, SC 29906. Please write Gunner in the memo line. For more information, call (843) 522-1848 or visit www.beaufortdancestudio.net.