Hannah Bateman is one step closer to a professional career in dance.
The 17-year-old recently returned from the Velocity Dance Convention Season Finale in Las Vegas where she was one of a handful of young dancers to be granted entry into an elite program where she will be moulded into a professional who can work in all facets of the industry.
It began earlier this year when Hannah, who’s been training at Project Dance in Chilliwack for the past 11 years, went to a regional dance competition in Seattle put on by Velocity. There, she won a Maximum Velocity Artist (MVA) award which qualified her for nationals — the Velocity Dance Convention Season Finale.
There were 420 other MVA dancers at nationals, all being judged on their solo dance performances and more. Out of those young dancers, only about 15 were awarded an MVA-plus status. Hannah was one of them.
“This is the most elite award given at nationals, and Hannah was there on a scholarship earned at the Seattle convention this past spring,” explained Amanda Quinton-Kucherhan, owner/director of Project Dance. “Students are hand selected for the MVA-plus award based on their work ethic and the faculty’s belief that they can make it as a dance professional.”
That little “plus” in MVA-plus is big. It means Hannah will be touring throughout the States with Velocity as it brings its convention/competition to 22 different cities over the course of seven months starting this November.
Hannah will be performing in a minimum of five of those shows, and up to all 22 if she’s able to. She’s responsible for her own travel, but the rest is paid for.
Now she’s trying to decide which cities to travel to, aside from the two closest to home, Seattle and Vancouver, Wash.
“I would love to do all of them,” says Hannah.
“That’s our goal, because it’s your breakthrough,” says her mother, Sarah Bateman. “It’s such an opportunity because from MVA-plus the next progression is called MVA-pro and that’s where they pay for all your travel, everything. They get you jobs in the States. You really want to go to as many [of the 22 locations] as you can so they get to know you well. They have a lot of connections in the professional world.”
Hannah’s dance background is vast. She does acro, ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop and tap. Her favourites are contemporary jazz and lyrical and she has a great talent for telling stories using just her body movement.
It was one of her lyrical solo pieces she performed at nationals which helped her get the MVA-plus award.
“At Velocity they have a lot of opportunities for us. We actually got to film a professionally shot music video with Simon Fuller’s new band [Now United],” says Hannah.
She also took an industry class with professional L.A.-based choreographer Kyle Hanagami, who’s worked with J-Lo and Disney. Hannah says his class was very “unique.”
“He keeps it more real, like what you would actually do in the professional world,” she explains.
Hanagami gave the dancers tasks similar to what they’d expect to see on set. For example, after learning a dance combo, he told the students to reverse it, meaning those who were dancing at stage left had to switch to stage right, and vice versa.
“It was really difficult, but it turned out good,” says Hannah.
“The classes are very inspiring. It’s cool to take a class from someone who’s J-Lo’s backup dancer,” she adds referring to instructor Whitney Bezzant.
Hannah will be incorporating her new-found dance skills and knowledge while she tours with Velocity. She will be working backstage and running the music, getting private instruction, and she will be rehearsing and performing with other MVA-plus dancers, MVA-pros, plus Velocity faculty.
“Hannah has always given 110 per cent in class and on the stage. Her dance technique and interpretation of choreography is always outstanding,” says Quinton-Kucherhan. “This will be a life-changing experience for Hannah, and no-one deserves it more.”
While touring, the judges will again be watching her. She’s hoping be handed an MVA-pro award.
The Sardis secondary graduate has signed with Premiere Talent Management Movement and Dance division, an agency devoted to representing dance artists in film and television. Hannah will be training at Harbour Dance Centre in Vancouver as well as here at home at Project Dance.
“I am so excited to travel with the Velocity Dance Convention as an MVA this coming dance year, as I’m sure it will be an amazing experience. I will always be grateful to Project Dance for excellent training and encouraging me to always dream big,” says Hannah.