Dancers take regional title

JOHNSTOWN — Romano Acro Dance outdid themselves in a recent competition in Saratoga Springs, academy owner Jessica Romano said, with the competitive dance team returning to Johnstown as regional champions.

“I am over the moon proud of them,” said Romano.

Performances were especially satisfying coming a year after a shutdown from COVID, she said.

RAD, as the studio is most commonly referred to, has been molding the talents and ambitions of dancers for five seasons at 38 W. Main St. Romano said the typical season coincides with the school year, roughly from September to June.

The RAD dancers weren’t able to compete in 2020 because of COVID-19, but this year made up for lost time, taking home several awards from regional competition April 18 at the Hilton in Saratoga Springs.

Romano said RAD has 127 total dancers, with 32 who traveled to Saratoga as the competitive team.

“You don’t have to be invited,” she said, and the kids paid an entry fee.

Romano noted that RAD participants went to Saratoga to the Step Up 2 Dance Competition. Dancers aged five to 17 competed, and received high platinums, platinums and top over-all awards.

“This was a huge accomplishment following the state closures due to the pandemic,” she said. “The RAD dancers were unable to compete last season due to the state mandated closure. The dancers have worked hard throughout this difficult time and remained determined to make their hometown proud, and that they did.”

Acro dance is a style of dance that combines classical dance technique with precision acrobatic elements. It is defined by its athletic character, its unique choreography, which seamlessly blends dance and acrobatics, and its use of acrobatics in a dance context.

Romano’s daughter, Bella, was one of those who competed in Saratoga.

She related: “It was an incredible feeling to be back out on the competitive dance floor with my dance team. With the pandemic, we didn’t know if it was even going to be a possibility this year. Our dance team has worked so hard over the last season. It was an emotional day being able to see all of our dancers do what they do best and leave everything that we had out there on the dance floor.”

Romano Acro Dance was ready to compete and were practicing in March 2020 when the pandemic hit. The studio had to take its cues from local health and education officials.

“We were preparing to go out there at the time,” Jessica Romano said.

“The studio was shut throughout the summer,” she said.

Like other kids in the community involved in extracurricular activities, she said the RAD dancers felt like they had their season “ripped from them.”

Coming back to dancing on West Main Street for 2021, Romano said there were many COVID rules to follow but the youths still had fun. Since September, she said the students wondered, however, whether the pandemic would get worse and hamper their routines again this year.

“We just kind of crossed our fingers and toes,” Romano said.

Assisted by her sister, Meghan Bartlett, Romano and RAD embraced this new season and went to Saratoga with a renewed purpose. Romano said there were 27 routines performed during the one day — solo performances, trios, and in larger groups. For example, a routine to Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” captured a first place award.

Romano said her Romano dancers have been competitive every year, representing the Johnstown studio. They have even competed in different states. The dancers are not just from Johnstown, she said, but all over such as the Capital Region, Northville, Fort Plain and Fonda.

The studio’s competitive program offers a team program to dedicated students looking to expand their acro dance performance education. Students study and practice two to five times weekly in all dance and acro forms in order to perform and compete. This program is offered to returning students by invitation only.

There is also a recreational program. The academy offers combination programs that are designed to give students the opportunity to learn a variety of different dance forms including: ballet/dance technique, acro-gymnastics, lyrical, contemporary, tap, jazz, and hip-hop in an age appropriate setting. This program is offered to new and returning students.

Further information on RAD can be obtained by going online at:; or calling the studio at (518) 775-7517.

By Paul Wager