MARYSVILLE — Marysville dancer Tia Buell recently competed in the first-ever season of the worldwide online “Dance Upon a Dream” competition, and managed to distinguish herself among her peers in spite of not even sharing a room with them.
“She won the mini Jazz top soloist, competing against kids her age from all over the world,” said Jen Buell, Tia’s mom. “We just started a new season, and at our first competition of the season, called ‘Rainbow National Dance Competition,’ Tia performed two solos and a duo. All three of her routines won Double Platinums, which is the highest distinction. She placed first overall in the duo ages 12-14 category, and took first overall in the solo ages 9-11 category.”
Although Tia is a veteran dancer by now, having taken up “teenie ballet” at the age of 4 after soccer, “Dance Upon a Dream” posed a unique challenge for her, in that she had to upload her dance routine onto YouTube, from which it was evaluated by a panel of 36 international professional judges, along with the videos of other dancers from across the globe, and placed in the running to win a number of prizes.
The rewards of “Dance Upon a Dream” or the Feb. 1-3 Starpower regional dance competition in Burien, Wash. — where she won the title of “Miss Junior Starpower” and scored the highest of any junior solo routine — matter less to Tia than the outlet that dance provides her for self-expression.
“Whatever I have inside me, dance lets it be free,” said Tia Buell, who was 10 years old when she competed in “Dance Upon a Dream” in December of last year, and is 11 now. “This is just who I am. I’m dance.”
Not only does Tia enjoy making friends outside of her social circles at school through dance, but she also appreciated the opportunity that “Dance Upon a Dream” gave her to demonstrate her personality, technique, flexibility and passion, all of which she spends 30 hours a week honing in practice sessions.
“I get nervous butterflies before I go on stage, but as soon as I do go on, I’m ready to go,” Tia Buell said.
“She’s so shy normally, but once she gets on stage, it’s a different story,” Jen Buell said. “It’s made her more disciplined even off the stage, though. Not only is she on the honor roll, but she’s also the teaching assistant to one of her teachers.”
Tia already hopes to make a career for herself as a dance instructor as an adult, but in the meantime, she offered some advice to her fellow aspiring dancers.
“If people say you can’t make it, show them you can,” Tia Buell said. “You should follow your dreams and be yourself. You can’t be anyone else.”