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Sports Person of the Week
Dellarocco Delivers on the Big Stage for Westbrook Dance Academy
Brooke Dellarocco recently earned a plethora accolades performing with the Westbrook Dance Academy at the Starpower Talent Nationals including a National Championship for her vocal rendition of It Roars. Brooke was also awarded the Discovery Spotlight Scholarship at the event. (Photo courtesy of Brooke Dellarocco)
Brooke Dellarocco took her solo jazz performance of I’m a Woman up a notch this year, and it paid off with a third-place finish at Starpower Talent Nationals. (Photo courtesy of Star Dance Alliance)
Brooke Dellarocco has built a stellar résumé with the Westbrook Dance Academy over the years. Recently, Brooke garnered several accolades in both individual and group performances at the Starpower Talent Nationals at Mohegan Sun.
Brooke has earned plenty of recognition as a performer and competitor, but Brooke has found that she is proudest of the camaraderie that she and her Senior teammates have fostered at Westbrook Dance Academy.
“As competition dancers, we are pretty decorated, but I think one of the things that I’m most proud of is that our Senior team has this really tight bond,” Brooke says. “That’s really hard to come across in the arts because you’re gong from show to show and meeting all these different people. We’ve stuck together for the years. It’s rare to have that.”
Brooke has proven herself as what those in the performing arts call a triple threat, which means that she can dance, sing, and act at an elite level. Brooke feels those skills allow her to put her best foot forward in her musical theater performances.
“To be honest, I feel like I’m strongest in a musical or a musical theater performance. I can utilize my dancing and singing strengths that I’ve used my whole life,” says Brooke, who lives in Chester. “Then the acting sort of comes natural to me. I like to be able to use everything that I’ve been working on. It’s a great feeling when it all comes together.”
At Nationals, Brooke and her Senior teammates earned 5 stars all three of their routines. The group’s musical theater performance of Beetlejuice earned second place at the competition and qualified for the Battle of the Stars. That group claimed fifth place with its lyrical performance of Land of Confusion, and its open performance of All the Rowboats earned sixth place. Brooke and her teammates have been working on these routines for a long time, and getting that type of recognition for all their hard work through some trying circumstances felt great to Brooke.
Each of those types routines display a different type of skill from their performers. Brooke enjoys the variety of what she performs with Westbrook Dance Academy.
“With jazz, it is a very interpretive style that is centered around whatever the choreographer decides. You can really change it to be what you like. Lyrical is closer to a ballet. It’s definitely slower music and slower movements. Beetlejuice is our most well-known and decorated routine. We have a bit of everything in there. We incorporated stuff from the Broadway performance. Our costumes were modeled off the movie. We combined the ideas into one,” says Brooke. “I personally enjoy jazz routines. That’s my forte. I love that music style, but I will do anything. I feel my worst kind of routine is probably tap, but I will still dance my heart out during those.”
Additionally, Brooke had a few solo performances that yielded recognition at the event. Brooke earned 5 stars in each of her solo performances and won a National Championship with her vocal rendition of It Roars, placed third with jazz solo I’m a Woman, and placed eighth with her lyric solo Can You Hear Me? Brooke was also awarded the Discovery Spotlight Scholarship. Brooke enjoys working with her teammates, but she feels solo performances really allow her to let loose on stage.
“I love being in my group. It’s a great experience and opportunity to dance with people you’ve grown up with,” Brooke says. “Dancing as a soloist challenges me more. I like to rise to that challenge and get reactions from the audience and the judges.”
Brooke worked on her performances with studio owner and choreographer Julie Reed-Russo, and has always found collaborating with Reed-Russo to be a rewarding experience. Brooke’s routines at Nationals this year were no different.
“Can You Hear Me? is a lyrical routine, so it has slow music and slow movements. In a way, it’s like interpretive dance. You are using the downbeats a lot more. The choreography is in Julie’s hands for those, and we have more of a say in the song. She wants us to like what we’re dancing to. She also lets us choose the costume, which she may put a twist on, and it comes out amazing,” says Brooke. “I’m a Woman is a jazz routine, so it’s a little more upbeat. It’s from a musical soundtrack in a cabaret style. I do that dance in heels, which makes it more difficult. We did that because wanted to bring it up a notch.”
After the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic posed over the last year, Brooke feels so great to be out and performing on the big stage again. Westbrook Dance Academy had to shut down briefly for safety’s sake, and it was a trying time for Brooke, who thrives in that space.
“During the time the studio was shut down, all the people on the team had no idea what to do. We spend our lives there. It was crazy to have all of that free time and having school online,” Brooke says. “We were always on Zoom calls and practicing. We were stretching and dancing around in our living rooms. It was definitely a hard time. We all love to perform. Thank god everything is opening back up.”
Brooke will have another chance to perform on the big stage once again as Westbrook Dance Academy heads to The Meadowlands in New Jersey to compete 2021 World Dance Championship. Brooke can’t wait to finish up this competition season with a bang.
“We have something called Worlds, and that’s actually coming up this week. You have to qualify for it, and it’s our last competition at the end of the season. We have been rehearsing for that,” Brooke says. “Leading up to the Worlds, we polish all of our routines. We make sure that they are cleaner and better. We might alter the choreography to make it look different. We might change it for a different stage. We want to switch it up a little bit for the judges so it isn’t so repetitive. It’s always changing.”
It’s been a pretty long journey for Brooke at Westbrook Dance Academy. Brooke started out looking up to all the older performers at the studio, and now she’s taking an active role in instructing some of the young kids at the studio.
“When I was about five or six, I did a show with my dad and my sister. I was also in a production of Annie with Artful Living. I would dance around the house all the time when I was little. I started at Rayna’s School of Dance in Chester, but I sort of grew out of that,” Brooke says. “Then I started at the Westbrook Dance Academy when I was about eight or nine. I look at the Minis and Futures a lot. We help teach them. They model their performances after the Seniors. I used to do that when I was younger, so to have people looking at me and modeling after me feels crazy.”
While Brooke has her whole senior year at Valley Regional ahead of her and another competition season with Westbrook Dance Academy, she is contemplating her next steps. It’s been joyful journey as well as a hard one. Brooke’s advice through it all is to remember your roots.
“I’m debating between musical theater, communications, and journalism. My parents have talked to me about being a newscaster. The camera is like a stage, so I could convert what I’m good at into something else. I definitely want to go New York City for the opportunities,” Brooke says. “Everyone has difficulties doing what they love. They lose their interest, or maybe have COVID hit. My advice is remember why you started whatever your thing is in the first place. That’s what got me through. Just remember why you started, and that’s how you continue. Anyone interested in the performing arts; just do it. It will teach more than just being on stage acting dancing and singing. It will teach you skills for the real world.”