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Where are they now: the competition circuit is a proving ground for stars in-the-making.

The cutthroat competition world is a great jumping-off point for dancers hoping to make it big. From commercial sets in L.A. to world-famous stages at NYC's Lincoln Center, here are a few up-and-coming dancers who started out on the competition stage.

Dusty Button

Got her start: Growing up in Myrtle Beach, SC, Button started competing at age 10 at Showstopper and New York City Dance Alliance. In 2004 she won Teen Outstanding Dancer at NYCDA and soon after began training at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.

Now you can find her: Although she was offered a spot with ABT's Studio Company (now ABT II), Button chose to first pursue a dream of her own--dancing in London at The Royal Ballet School. This fall she joins the corps of Birmingham Royal Ballet.

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Tony Testa

Got his start: competing with Artistic Fusion in Colorado and at New York City Dance Alliance. Now you can find him: choreographing on

Nickelodeon's Dance on Sunset series and teaching at NYCDA. He has toured with Janet Jackson and was a dancer in the film Dreamgirls.

Neil Haskell

Got his start: This contemporary dancer started training at the David DeMarie Dance Studio in Clarence, NY, and went on to win the 2005 Dancer of the Year title at American Dance Awards.

Now you can find him: performing on the off-Broadway stage of Altar Boyz where he plays charming "bad boy" Luke. Previously he was a finalist on Season Three of "So You Think You Can Dance" and performed in the chorus of Twyla Tharp's The Times They Are A-Changin' on Broadway.

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Julie Blume

Got her start: Blume trained at the competitive New Hampshire School of Ballet attending competitions such as Dance Masters of America and Headliners, where she won the title of National Miss Headliner. She was also crowned New Hampshire's Junior Miss and was a top eight finalist at the America's Junior Miss Pageant. "Competing gives you the chance to be onstage all the time," she says. "It's a lot of work but it teaches you about stage presence and enjoying dance as a performer, not just a student. It was certainly worth it for me."

Now you can find her: touring with Parsons Dance, where she has been a company member since 2005.

Teddy Forance

Got his start: at Hackworth School of Performing Arts in Easthampton, MA, where he won more than 50 regional titles and scholarships. His rap sheet of national awards includes 2005 Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance, 2004 Teen Mr. Dance of America at Dance Masters of America and America's Junior Dancer of the Year 2001 at American Dance Awards.

Now you can find him: working with Broadway Dance Center's The Pulse. He previously toured with DELIRIUM, a Cirque du Soleil show.

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Tiler Peck

Got her start: This former comp kid grew up in Bakersfield, CA, where she spent her weekends competing at Starpower, Showstopper, and Showbiz. "Competing gave me the confidence to be comfortable with myself onstage," she said in a recent interview.

Now you can find her: Peck is a soloist with New York City Ballet and has been featured in numerous roles including Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free and Peter Martins' Romeo + Juliet.

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Author:Feller, Alison
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2008
Words:546
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