Gunner Sandifer used to dance in his living room for family. Now, he'll be doing it across the country.
Sandifer, 18, was named Senior Male Dancer of the Year at the Tremaine Dance Convention earlier this month in Orlando, Fla.
Tremaine Dance holds competitions and conventions across the country, showcasing and teaching dance to thousands of youngsters. The competitions consist of a rigorous auditioning process in both ballet and jazz, styles of dance Sandifer has been learning for years at the Beaufort Academy of Dance.
As dancer of the year, the Thomas Heyward Academy graduate will now perform and travel with the Tremaine Dance staff over the next year.
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Sandifer describes his first big move into the dance world.
Question. Did you think you had a good shot at dancer of the year?
Answer. I've grown up at the convention; it's like a second home. I've been a runner-up the past four years. This year I was just praying hard to get it.
Q. What will you be doing with the company?
A. I'll travel to several cities, and I'll be performing and assisting with them. It'll be a lot of fun.
Q. What was your reaction when you won?
A. I didn't really hear my name at first. They announced "Gunner Sandifer" and I was like, "Hmm, nobody's moving."
Then it hit me. So many emotions came to me at once.
Q. How long have you been dancing?
A. About 11 years. I've been told since I was little I would dance any time music came on. I would just bop around the room. I loved to have an audience in front of me. I would bring my friends over and have a dance class and I'd make our parents watch us. We'd make complete fools out of ourselves, but we didn't care.
Mom found an ad for Beaufort Academy of Dance and I started coming here.
Q. At what point did you realize that dance was something you could do for life?
A. Miss Alli (director Aleisia Ashlaw) approached me about joining the company here. After that I realized how much I enjoyed performing.
It's been my life for 11 years. I just can't see myself doing anything else.