Four acts, five contestants, one winner. Well, make that two.
Dancing duo Olivia Shafer, 16, and Esmée Rush, 15, earned top spot in the 2022 edition of the Duncan Has Talent dance competition. The finals were held July 22 at Charles Hoey Park as part of the 39 Days of July festivities, after nearly a week of performances and feedback by judge/mentors Cathy Schmidt and Laura Cardriver.
“This is the first time in a long time that we actually haven’t gotten into an argument,” Schmidt admitted, of the judges’ final deliberations.
Competing were the Shafer/Rush duo, who dance at Carlson’s School of Dance, Taylor Rollins, 11, who dances with Kathy White Dancers, Ryland Racicot, 15, of Adagé Studio, and Rocklan Mitchell, 13, of Carlson’s.
The crowd was entertained by two dances from each act spanning multiple genres.
“We thoroughly enjoyed all the dancers,” Schmidt said. “You truly all were just wonderful.”
In the end, third place went to Mitchell.
“I just want to say you have the most wonderfully expressive face and the more you use it the better you’re going to get,” Cardriver told him.
Racicot took second place.
“You’re an absolute delight to watch to dance,” Schmidt told him, adding that for only having been tap dancing for two years, “speaking from somebody who does it a lot, I’m very impressed by how you can take change in that genre for only having such little experience on even learning how to do it so bravo young man and congratulations.”
While young Rollins placed out of the top three, fans were delighted with her dancing and know she had most certainly earned her spot on the stage alongside the other dancers and was a fan-favourite.
Schmidt had noted earlier that the winners would be the dancers who took the judge/mentors’ notes and adapted their acts accordingly.
In the end the experience of Shafer and Rush proved unbeatable as they were able to take the mentors’ advice and tweak their performances and then some.
“You took our mentorship and then you gave us extra stuff we didn’t even ask for and that’s what put you over the top. We appreciate you, you’re beautiful, keep dancing because you were meant to do this. It’s in you.”
Longevity John Falkner thanked the contestants for braving the spotlight and opting to participate.
“Thank goodness you did because it was a fun, fun time for all of us,” he said. “I think Duncan is just a little more aware now of just how much dancing does take place in this town.”