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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Cottam dancer preparing for world competition

by Sylene Argent

Nine-year-old Cottam resident, Jamieson MacNeil, loves to dance and perform; and that passion can be noticed in the glimmer in his eye and the smile stretched across his face as soon as the music starts playing.

  Though many young people may share MacNeil’s love for dancing, many can not say their skills earned them an opportunity to compete on the international stage as part of the illustrious Team Canada Dance (for the children 11-and-under division) in four dance styles, but he can.

  MacNeil qualified in four types of dance but he will compete as part of the jazz and ballet teams, as both these styles will be judged in Poland from November 29 to December 4 as part of the World Dance Competition. He will also be able to perform a solo during the competition.

   “I’ve been dancing since before I could walk,” MacNeil said, which means he began moving to the rhythm of music when he was around two and began competing soon after.

  His mom, Annajayne, is a teacher at All That Jazz Dance Company in Chatham. She would bring young MacNeil to her classes with her, and it didn’t take long for her son to show an interest in the art form, beginning with Highland Dancing.

  MacNeil now trains with the same dance company.

  In order to qualify for Team Canada Dance for the upcoming World Dance Championships, MacNeil had to participate in an audition where a scout from the Canadian Team noticed his skills.

   MacNeil was thrilled with the news and can not wait to compete, though he admits he is nervous to perform on the international stage.

  “I am looking forward to the competition, but I am totally terrified because I will be judged by a panel of nine judges from all different countries,” he said.

  “I like to compete. I like friendly competition,” MacNeil said. “I like the stage. I like to perform.”

  As the commitment to the team is a big financial undertaking, a GoFundMe page has been setup to help raise funds. To donate, log onto MacNeil’s family is hoping to raise $8000 to cover the cost of the trip to the World Dance Championships and travel expenses for the many team practices that will take place in the Hamilton area. There is no government assistance for Team Canada Dance.  

  Three Canadian teams will head to the competition. MacNeil is part of the “Eastern” team.

Annajayne said her son especially loves being animated on stage and playing a character. “He has a performance quality that just stands out.”

  Looking ahead to the World Dance Competition, “I am practicing hard,” MacNeil said, who typically practices every day.

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