By Curt Yeomans
The Forest Park-based Zodiax dance team finished second in a close round of voting in a nationally televised dance competition earlier this week, but its members have another chance to show the "Big Apple" they know how to move their feet.
On Wednesday, the team finished second on the "Wild Out Wednesdays" All-Star Summer Series on Black Entertainment Television's "106 & Park" television show. The group advanced to the second round of the competition, and was edged out of a $5,000 prize by the West Palm Beach, Fla.-based XCL dance team, in a tight (51 percent-49 percent) online viewer vote.
Since their appearance on BET, team members have shifted gears, put the "Wild Out Wednesdays" competition behind them and are preparing for another test of skills taking place this weekend. Zodiax is scheduled to compete in the "Blaze the Stage" competition on Broadway on Saturday.
"Basically, we spent Wednesday night talking about ["Wild Out Wednesdays"] and what we could have done better," said Zodiax coach, Melissa Colon. "Then, it was time to move on, and wake up Thursday morning focused on our next competition. We've always done that. Just because we didn't win on Wednesday doesn't mean we're going to give up."
A $1,000 grand prize is at stake in the "Blaze the Stage" competition, which has separate categories for rhythm-and-blues singers and hip-hop dance acts.
The "Blaze the Stage" contest is produced by "106 & Park" producer Pat Charles, according to Colon. The competition will take place at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre's Peter Norton Symphony Space, which is located on Broadway and 95th Street, in Manhattan. Colon said the non-televised competition will be judged by dance and music industry professionals from the New York City area.
She also said Zodiax is one of 14 dance teams participating, and the only one from Georgia.
The 12 Zodiax members competing in "Blaze the Stage" 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.
Colon said the format for "Blaze the Stage" calls for a three-minute routine in the first round, followed by a 75-second routine in the second round. Subsequent rounds will be done in a freestyle, dance-off format, she said. After the first round, six teams will be eliminated, and four more teams will be eliminated after the second round. The judges, Colon said, will then eliminate one team until there is only one team left standing.
The centerpiece of Zodiax's appearance in the competition will be the three-minute, school-themed, "Geek Out" routine that will be performed during the first round. The routine incorporates the sound of a ringing school bell with dance moves, including freezes, jumps, headspins, marching, and double cartwheels.
One member also spins a textbook on the tip of two of his fingers, while another male member spins a female dancer on his head.
During the second round, Zodiax will perform the same routine it presented in the first round of the "Wild Out Wednesdays" competition, Colon said. In the next two rounds, she said, the team will use its two routines from the final round of the "Wild out Wednesdays" dance-off.
Zodiax has spent the last two days practicing for the competition. On Thursday, the team practiced in Central Park, and the rehearsal quickly turned into a free show for passers by, Colon said. "One guy was videotaping us, and told us we were going to be on Spanish TV, which was something different," she said. "A lot of people stopped to watch us, and started applauding, so we think we're in good shape."
On Friday, the team's hotel, the Holiday Inn on 57th Street in Manhattan, allowed the team to spend an hour rehearsing in the hotel ballroom.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, we think we're at an 11 right now," said Ryan Miller, 17, a member from Silver Springs, Md., who formerly lived in Forest Park. "Every time we rehearse, we find out what's wrong -- and we fix it."