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Forest Park dancers perform on BET tonight

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Eight members of the Forest Park-based Zodiax dance team will be on national television tonight as part of the Wild Out Wednesdays All-Star Summer Series on Black Entertainment Television's (BET) "106 & Park" television show.

The All-Star Summer Series brings back teams that won Wild Out Wednesdays competitions throughout the 2008-09 television season.

Zodiax won the competition on Nov. 12, 2008, after a showdown with a team from Syracuse, N.Y.

As was the case last November, the winner of the weekly dance competition is selected through two rounds of voting by "106 & Park" viewers. The show will run tonight from 6 p.m., to 8 p.m. BET is shown on Comcast Channel 72 in Clayton County, and on Charter Cable Channel 74 in Henry County.

Zodiax is one of three teams that will be competing on the show tonight. "We are the only Atlanta-area team participating in this competition and we're just thankful for everyone who has supported us so far," team coach, Melissa Colon, said. "We really, really need people to tune in and vote for us, because $5,000 could go a long way in helping these kids do more things like this in the future,"

The team was scheduled to fly to New York early this morning for the competition. While they are in New York, team members will also dance on Broadway when they compete in another competition, called "Blaze the Stage," at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, in the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre. The "Blaze the Stage" competition features hip-hop and rhythm and blues acts, with a top prize of $1,000, and a trophy in each category.

Members of Zodiax are:

Geneley Childress, Olivia Clark, Miquavius Dominick, Shimallory Grooms, Montavious "Monte" Harris, Thuy Ho, Lynette Maldonado, Ryan Miller, Cambre'a Norris, Ronnie Thompson, Henry Tran, and Nikia Willis. Clark, Ho, Maldonado, and Thompson will only be competing in the "Blaze the Stage" competition, Colon said.

Colon, who is Clayton County's teacher of the year, taught many of the dancers when they were students at Babb Middle School in Forest Park. She said the team has been practicing as many as four times a week, for up to four hours at a time. "The kids are super excited," Colon said. "We've been working on the routines since June. Even when I took a vacation for a few weeks, they continued to practice regularly ... "

The Wild Out Wednesdays competition will require the team to perform as many as two routines, depending on whether Zodiax makes it to the second round. At the end of the first round, viewers will be asked to log onto BET's web site for "106 & Park," and vote for their favorite group. The two teams getting the most votes will advance to the second round. Then, they will each perform two 15-second routines in a dance-off format.

After the second round is over, viewers will again have to log onto the web site and vote for their favorite dance group. The team which receives the most votes will be crowned the winner.

"I'm just ready to go up to New York, have fun dancing - like I always do - and compete well," said Montavious Harris, 17, a rising junior at Forest Park High School.

Zodiax members will perform their routines again in the second round of the "Blaze the Stage" competition. But in the first round, they will also perform a three-minute, school-themed routine called "Geek Out,"in which team members dance with bookbags and textbooks. All of the routines feature members doing acrobatic, old school hip-hop moves, such as two-person cartwheels, backflips, windmills, freezes and head spins.

Ronnie Thompson, 15, who recently joined Zodiax after participating in Babb Middle School's "Dance Dawgs" Dance team, said there are a lot of expectations for each member to get the steps exactly right.

"It's all the same things [as Dance Dawgs], except there are a lot higher expectations," said Thompson, a rising freshman at Forest Park High School. "Everything has to be straight on point -- all the time."

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