dancer earns title
So you think you can dance? Local Prairie High School senior Sienna Benton proved she can! Sienna was chosen as one of two finalists in the “So You Think You Can Dance – Idaho” competition held at the University of Idaho. This event is similar, but not related to the FOX summer television series by the same name, without the Idaho. This event is the brainchild of University of Idaho dance Professor Mary Heller. This event had its origin in the fall of 2006 with Camas Prairie’s Middle Eastern dance professional, Yasmin, resident of Winchester, earning the title.
Professor Heller’s goal was to: First - Find a way to promote the art of dance in North Central Idaho, second – stage an event that allowed dancers from all genres to participate, third – to have the event contain an educational aspect which will help dancers become knowledgeable and progress to higher levels and forth – give the winners a showcase in which to display their abilities.
“So You Think You Can Dance – Idaho?” works this way: Dancers perform in Round 1 of auditions. After performing the contestants are critiqued by a panel of judges who are professionals, alumni and upper class level University of Idaho dance students representing a variety of dance styles. After an in depth critic, two dancer/routines from the 16 -17 year division and two dancers from the 18 years and older division are selected to receive additional coaching. After an intense four hour coaching session with a specialist who can give fresh perspectives as to how the dancer/routines are being performed respective to the dance genres, the contestants then go through the final round of auditions. The judging panel then decides which contestant/dance ensemble from each age group earns the title of “So You Think You Can Dance –Idaho?”. These steps all occur within a two week period. The two age group winners then get to perform their routines in the University of Idaho’s Annual Dance Theater Concert. This year’s concert is titled “Moveable Feasts”.
Sienna Benton is the daughter of Kevin and Deanna Benton of Ferdinand. She won the title for the 16 – 17 year old age group performing an acrobatic – lyrical routine. Sienna has been a notable dancer on the Camas Prairie since 2004. She has earned the Solo Dance Champion title for Idaho High School’s District II Dance Team’s for three years running. She also helped her teams – first at Highland High in her sophomore year and then at Prairie High her junior year, place both at districts and state in the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
Sienna has been participating in dance and gymnastics since age four. She has won the Spotlight Regional Dance Championship trophy twice in the Ballet – small group division and once earned the reserve champion trophy as a soloist in the Acrobatic Dance division, which, in each case, earned her seeds to the Spotlight National Dance Championships. Sienna’s previous experience in gymnastics has lead to a fifth place finish on the balance beam and seventh place finishes on both floor and vault in the USA Gymnastics - Montana State Championships.
Sienna’s other pastime is theater where she displays the depth of all her special talents in dance, acrobatics, acting and singing. Sienna has performed in 17 productions including dance theater, children’s musical theater, community theater musicals and revues and even one Grand Opera. Among her list of productions are: Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Gymnastasia (based on Disney’s Fantasia), Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Flip the Light Fantastic, Pale Pink Dragon, How to Eat Like A Child, Robin Hood and the White Arrow, A Tribute to American Operetta, Jerry’s Girls (a revue of Jerry Herman musicals), American Operetta in Revue (this season’s production in Winchester, Idaho), and The Other Wise Man (a grand opera).
Sienna continues her dance tenure this season a senior member and choreographer for the Prairie High School Pirates Dance Team. The team is gearing up for this season’s competitions. Sienna and the PHS team have a unique opportunity, as this year’s new coach is Sienna’s older sister, dance partner, and theater mate, Ciarra Benton. In the 2005 -06 high school season, the two sisters lead the Highland Huskies to three trophies in the Idaho State Dance Team Championships. They were then coached by mom, Deanna Benton. So do we think Sienna can dance? You bet! It’s in her blood. Congratulations Sienna and good luck this year Prairie Pirate’s Dance Team.
If you’d like to attend the University of Idaho’s “Movable Feasts Dance Theater Concert, it is scheduled for Nov. 2 and 3 at 7:30 pm in the University of Idaho Hartung Theater in Moscow. Sienna will be performing Friday, Nov. 2. Tickets are $8.00/person. Groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate, if arranged in advance. To be part of a group rate contact Ciarra Benton at 208-451-0148 for more information.