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By Lisa Vernon-Sparks
The Providence Journal
August 10, 2010


JAMESTOWN — When Travis and Tyler Atwood took their first dance class when they were 7, it was hip-hop style, filled with quick moves, bopping beats — and girls. “We thought it was going to be an all-boys class,” Travis said. “I thought girls didn’t do hip-hop.”

“I sort of wanted to impress all the girls,” Tyler said.

Sheryl Atwood brought her twin sons to a dance studio for a change from sports activities. Her initial thought was: “We’re going to be out of here so fast.”

Three years later, the 10-year-old twins from Jamestown are not only dancing every day, they’re soaring to heights many don’t reach in a lifetime. Already they have a packed resumé, listing not only hip-hop styles as a skill, but ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary dance, along with music and vocal abilities.

With a combination of velocity, precision and passion, the duo have danced on television, in a film and in several dance competitions, snatching up dance scholarships and numerous accolades in Rhode Island, New York and Boston.

The next adventure for the duo takes them overseas to Poland as members of the United States Dance Team to compete in the World Dance Finals. Travis and Tyler have garnered two of the five coveted soloist spots on the team.

The weeklong competition is not until Dec. 8. Meanwhile, the twins are devoting most of their summer to practicing daily, taking classes and learning choreography at the Talent Factory Performing Arts Center in North Kingstown. The twins also study at the Rhode Island Ballet Theater in Middletown.

During the school year they maintain a rigorous schedule, attending Jamestown public schools, promptly doing their homework after their mother picks them up, and then heading off to practice from roughly 4 to 9 p.m. Other times they are back and forth to New York, for competitions and, on occasion, an audition. They also play competitive soccer.

At their Jamestown home, with a view of the Claiborne Pell Bridge behind them, the twins do a little “improv” and show off their dance moves. Tyler is the jazzman, exuding flow and passion in his steps, while Travis is more of a technician, with leaps and turns. Later, Sheryl, husband Chris Atwood, and the twins talked about what the dance competition and performing life is like for them as a family.

The boys are not overly competitive with each other, but they critique each other often, Sheryl said. “They take care of each other,” said Chris Atwood. “They support each other. As brothers, they get along very well.”

Despite all the attention, Travis and Tyler seem like fairly grounded and typical 10-year-olds. When there’s time for other things, the boys like snowboarding and surfing, or enjoy playing Super Mario Bros. on their Nintendo system.

“We will not put them in situations where they will turn on each other,” Sheryl said. “I just want them to feel very good about the experience. When they are ready to get something big, it will be at the right place at the right time, and right for our family.”


Copyright 2010 The Providence Journal

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