CRANBERRY TWP – Move over Jackie Evancho, another local talent is sweeping the nation with the help of a nationally-televised contest.
A dance group from Cranberry Township will appear Tuesday on an episode of America’s Got Talent, which airs nationally on NBC. The 11 girls, aged in range from 11 to 18, all train at the Studio 19 dance complex in the township, although not all of them are from Butler County.
The show will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
The group, which performs an act very similar to the Cirque De Soleil show in Las Vegas, apparently impressed the panel of four judges enough during the show’s taping that they get to move further in the contest, according to the team’s coach.
The next phase of the show will take the group to Las Vegas. The winning act will receive $1 million as well as a headlining show on the Las Vegas strip.
The girls are led and trained by Tammy Croftcheck, a Cranberry Township resident, and Katie Watts, who lives in Mars.
Reached by phone recently, Croftcheck said it’s been a whirlwind start to a year that’s seen the girls go from Chicago to New York and now to Las Vegas.
The dance instructor said her troupe didn’t even have to submit an audition video to the show producers. Rather, a talent scout for the show saw the group perform, which led to an in-person audition in front of American’s Got Talent producers in Chicago in February.
That audition was enough to secure a spot for the dance team in New York, where they performed in front of 2,000 people and celebrity judges that include Howard Stern in April. That performance will air Tuesday night.
Croftcheck said it’s been quite the hectic year so far for the team, as evidenced by the latest trip to New York.
“For a group of young kids given the opportunity to perform in New York City live in a theater with over 2,000 people, it was just overwhelming,” she said. “One of my younger students, after they received a standing ovation, tear up on stage. It was overwhelming but exciting at the same time.”
Croftcheck added that one of the judges, television personality Howie Mandel, lives in Las Vegas in regularly gets to see the professional Cirque de Soleil show. However, the dance team from Cranberry Township pulled it off “right on par” with the professionals, he said.
But that doesn’t mean the path hasn’t been without obstacles. Croftcheck said. The dance routine used to be several minutes long, but the coaches were forced to cut it down at the request of producers.
“We started the routine a while ago, but the America’s Got Talent people told us it could only be 90 seconds,” she said. “So we took it and wound it down to revamp several things. We worked on the shorter version quite a bit for Chicago, and we cleaned it up before New York.”
Croftcheck currently isn’t sure when the dance team will get the call to go to Las Vegas. In the meantime, the coach and her dancers will have even more time to perfect an act that’s already brought them so far.