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By Kevin Doby
The Milan News-Leader
July 11, 2011

Ethan Wood loves to dance and his feet rarely stop moving. It doesn’t matter if the 11-year-old is dancing for hundreds of people, sitting down or at the grocery store with his family.

During the last weekend in June, his passion and enthusiasm for dance got him noticed by Kent Boyd, runner-up on Season 7 of the hit TV show, “So You Think You Can Dance?” and choreographer at the national Hollywood Vibe convention in Sandusky, Ohio

While instructing a group of more than 200 teen and older dancers, of which Ethan was a part of, Boyd told the students to start off with some improvisation. It was at that time Boyd noticed a floppy-haired boy who may not have had the best technique, but wowed him with his dancing.

“He asked me to come on stage (with some others) and then after asked if I wanted to do it again later with just him,” Ethan said. “I couldn’t help it, I started to cry.”

Ethan said it was improv skills that got Boyd to notice him. “There were so many other kids in the room, and some of them were really good. For Kent to pick me was a bit of a shock,” Ethan said.

So after Ethan calmed down and was ready to dance again, he and Boyd took the stage together in front of everyone at the convention to perform an improvised dance number.
“The way Kent followed Ethan was so cool,” Wuerthele said. “He would pick up on Ethan’s moves and it looked like they had planned it, like it had been rehearsed.”

But it was not planned. “It wasn’t about getting the steps down,” Ethan said, “it was about feeling it.”

After they finished, Ethan wasn’t the one crying, but others were. “The kids swarmed Ethan after he finished and they were crying,” said Dance Xplosion owner and tap instructor Heidi Wuertherle. “Some of the moms in the audience were crying. It was amazing.”

But Boyd wasn’t the first person to notice that Ethan had something unique to offer.
“The minute Ethan walked through the door and put on his tap shoes, I could tell there was something there,” Wuertherle said. “Just in the way his feet moved, and the passion he had for it. It was something special.”

“He’s always the entertainment at weddings,” said his mother, Kristen Adamski.

Ethan has been dancing since he was 3 years old, and started taking classes at Dance Xplosion in Milan when he was 5. He has learned numerous styles of dance, including tap, ballet, turns and leaps, hip-hop, modern and jazz. “My favorites are tap, hip-hop and modern, though,” Ethan said.

This was not the first convention Ethan has attended. His mother said they have been to four or five throughout the years. In October, they went to the Hollywood Vibe regional convention in Detroit.

At the convention in Sandusky, famous dancers and choreographers teach classes to kids in different age groups. The kids are divided into three groups, mini, junior and teen/senior. While not technically a teenager, Ethan’s ability placed him in the latter group.

In addition to the thrill of being able to dance with someone he looks up to, Ethan had more success at the convention. As a part of the convention, every student has to learn a dance combination and perform it in an audition-type setting. About 20 dancers from each division are then called back to perform the routine again for eight of the choreographers at the convention.

Three students from Dance Xplosion were among the students — Ethan, Lauren Smith and April Finkiewicz. Ten of those 20 are then selected and awarded a scholarship to attend any Hollywood Vibe Convention in the next year free of charge. Ethan was selected, as well as April.

While the conventions are a great place for kids to learn and hone their skills, they also provide a more esoteric benefit. “The conventions are a great source of inspiration for the kids,” Wuertherle said.

This can even be true for kids like Ethan who already enjoy and have a passion for dance. In a conversation with Boyd, Ethan learned that he shared something in common with the famous dancer. Boyd told Ethan that when he was growing up he wanted to be a soccer player to which Ethan responded: “I was going to be a basketball player, but because of you, I want to be a dancer.”

April said Ethan wasn’t the only one who left the convention inspired. While she was talking to Boyd, another parent came up and said to him, “You changed that little boys’ life.” To which Boyd reportedly responded, “No, he changed mine.”


© Copyright 2011 Heritage Newspapers

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