At Sheer Elite International’s 2018 National Competition and Convention this past July in Las Vegas, the first annual National Vickie Sheer Award was presented to 16-year-old dancer Michelle Fricker, a student of On Stage Dance Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. Fricker, who also won the Ms. Teen Las Vegas Sheer Elite Title Crown, has attended competitions and conventions represented by Vickie Sheer since she was five years old. Since then, “she has always set an example in every way as a role model for all dancers with her enthusiasm and dedication,” explain representatives of Sheer Elite. “[She] was chosen for this prestigious award by being recognized for her outstanding participation and overall brilliance, both partaking in competition and excelling in convention classes.”
The National Vickie Sheer Award is named after 93-year-old dance educator Vickie Sheer, who has worked in the dance industry for over 75 years. Originally born in the Bronx, New York, Sheer performed in New York City and Las Vegas before opening the Vickie Sheer School of Dance in the Bronx, which she ran for 37 years. She then went on to run Dance Educators of America for 30 years. It is no wonder, then, that Sheer Elite has created an award in her honor.
Here, Dance Informa speaks with the eager, young recipient of this award, Michelle Fricker.
When and why did you start dancing?
“I started dancing when I was two years old. It all started because I saw this movie about a ballerina, and ever since then, I have wanted to be that. Once I went into combo classes, I started into a company for the babies called ‘The Dream Team’, and it just went from there!”
What styles of dance do you study?
“I train every day at On Stage Dance Academy. The styles I practice include ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hip hop, acrobatics and contemporary/lyrical. My favorite style is ballet and pointe because I have always dreamed of dancing in a professional ballet company. It also takes a lot of hard work, strength and determination for a goal like that to be reached.”
How does it feel to be the recipient of the first annual National Vickie Sheer Award? What does this honor mean to you?
“Winning the first-ever National Vickie Sheer Award is surreal! After going to Sheer Elite year after year, winning the award made me feel that all of my hard work had finally paid off. Determination and perseverance have taught me to keep going further in my career as a dancer. It is an honor to receive this award because Vickie Sheer is one of the most prestigious leaders in the dance industry. She has helped many dancers reach their goals, and I am thankful to be recognized by her and her peers.”
What do you like best about participating in competitions and conventions? How do you think they help you as a dancer?
“What I like best is the actual performance. Performing is what I love to do and what I hope to do the rest of my life. The awards ceremony at competitions actually freak me out because I always strive to do my best. What I like best about participating in conventions is learning new choreography from different teachers. Getting more input on how I can improve my dancing skill gives me the ability to expand my knowledge, along with what is taught at my dance school. Convention is usually one of my favorite parts of the whole competition, and I love meeting all the new instructors. Sheer Elite has made me grow in ways I never knew I could being a young dancer.”
What do you specifically like about the Sheer Elite International events?
My studio, On Stage Dance Academy, has been going to Sheer Elite International for four years now for Nationals. Every year we have gone, I have tried going for the title award. What I specifically like best about the Sheer Elite International events is when I go for title. The title contestants all do a big production that is performed at the beginning of the banquet, right before the crowning. The banquet dance is what makes going for title a lot less stressful for me because I tend to think about the banquet dance instead of what will happen at crowning.”
Have you ever met Vickie Sheer? What did you think of her, and how did she make an impression on you?
“Yes, I have met Vickie Sheer! She is super inspiring because of all that she has accomplished in her lifetime! She has made me work hard for everything I have achieved at Sheer Elite. I appreciate my dancing more because I have had to work so hard at achieving certain goals that I have set for myself going to Sheer Nationals. Everyone says that a dancer’s life is short, but Ms. Sheer showed me that it can last however long you want it to last. One day, I hope to be as successful as Ms. Sheer.”
What are your dance dreams and goals? Any particular companies/shows/choreographers you’d like to dance for?
“My dance dream is to be a part of a professional ballet company. Any company would be amazing, and I would love to dance for pretty much every choreographer! I want to do it all! Ballet is my dream.”
When you’re not dancing, how do you like to spend your time?
“When I am not dancing, typically during the school year, I am working on homework. Currently, I am going to an online school, Arizona Connections Academy, and have been since the fourth grade. This year, I will be a junior in high school and will be running for National Honors Society president! On my down time between dance and school, I love to go to church and spend time with my dogs and friends.”
What would you like other dancers to know?
“Going to Sheer Elite International every year, and going for title was really hard for me. Winning that one thing was all I cared about every competition season. Each year I did not get it, it made me a stronger dancer because I would go back home and work 10 times harder to try and redeem myself the following year. After all the years not getting it, winning that title this year made it really special. Then on top of that, receiving the Vickie Sheer Award just put me into a complete shock. I felt so lucky that Ms. Sheer and her team felt I was eligible for such a distinguished award. This has been a whole learning experience, and I am thankful to have made it this far. Never give up on what you hope to achieve, because eventually it will happen. I would first like to thank my studio and all of my teachers who have gotten me to where I am today. Especially my studio director, Mrs. Rose. I would also like to thank Sheer Elite International competition and their staff for teaching me and helping me grow as a dancer, competitor and person. Of course, Vickie Sheer herself, for being the inspiration and drive for me and all young dancers to be the dancers the want to be.”
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.