Gahanna's Clark to compete for national dance title
Gahanna's Jeffrey Clark hopes to tap-dance his way to the title of national dancer of the year in Las Vegas next week.
Clark, a 2012 Gahanna Lincoln High School graduate, will perform a tap solo and tap duet during the Rainbow Connection National Dance Competition on July 8-13.
"I've been dancing about 12 years," he told ThisWeek. "My sister was doing baton there (at Judy Dollenmayer). I would watch through a crack in the door. They had an all-boys class. I joined, but after my first year, I quit because I got teased. I missed it so much, I had to go back. Ever since, I couldn't leave. It's like a second home now."
Elite company director Tiffany Fairchild-Schlater, of the Judy Dollenmayer Studio of Dance (JDSD), said Clark has been an invaluable dance instructor and key element in making the all-boys dance program a success.
"He has always been a leader in the very best way possible," she said. "Jeffrey has always led by example. He works hard to achieve anything he sets his mind to. He doesn't take the short or easy road. Jeffrey knows that hard work is the only thing that will bring him success."
Clark has won many regional and national awards, including the national title of Mr. Dance America 2011, regional dance of the year 2012 and Xtreme Sr. Mr. Prime Time 2012.
Clark also has given back to the community by performing in benefit shows for the National Heart Association, Strides for Pride and JDSD's Dancing for Life.
"While teaching dance conventions across the country, Jeffrey has served me well as my personal dance assistant," Fairchild-Schlater said. "I can always count on his professionalism, technique, punctuality and dedication."
She said she's looking for someone to sponsor a portion or all of Clark's expenses to compete in Las Vegas.
If the 18-year-old would earn the national title, Rainbow Connection would send him on an all-expenses-paid trip to Australia to compete on an international level for the title of international dancer of the year.
"This title has opened many doors for young dancers going into their adult dance careers," Fairchild-Schlater said. "He is an amazing young talent with a bright future."
Westerville's Susanna Kuppich danced with Clark a few years ago before she became his technique teacher.
"I graciously took on the responsibility of working on helping him get where he wants to go," she said.
Kuppich also has been working to find sponsorships for the Las Vegas trip because Clark is limited in resources to get to the competition.
"He deserves to get there, as this opportunity will open many doors for his future career," she said.
Anyone wanting to sponsor Clark should email Kuppich at email@example.com.
Clark performs all styles of dance, but tap is his strength. He won a tap solo competition in the elite category in Toledo last week. It's the same solo he will perform in Las Vegas, against as many as 70 dancers.
"It's about 2 minutes long, just enough time to show what I've got," he said.