From the age of 2, Big Piney High School sophomore Skye Sperl has loved dancing and competing in dance.
Skye joined the XMD studio in Montpelier, Idaho, at that young age, and she said, “I started doing competitions shortly after.”
She’s stuck with it over the years, and just two years after moving to Big Piney, Skye is still taking to the stage and taking on competitions.
“The adrenaline after the dances,” Skye said is one of the best things about being part of a competition team, “or the nerves before going on stage.”
Just before becoming a local, Skye competed for a dance team in Bear Lake, Idaho, and competed a lot.
“They used to be extremely stressful,” Skye said of the competitions. “We used to have them every other weekend from December (through) May.”
But her dancing nearly came to halt when her family moved to Sublette County. Not knowing about any dance teams seemed to be an inevitable loss to Skye: “My flexibility, my strength and my therapy.
“I had no idea that there was a dance team in Pinedale,” she said. But then Skye and her mother, Amber Sperl, spotted the Wyld Dance Company owned and operated by Anastasia Hamilton on Facebook, and Skye saw herself dancing again.
Skye said she considered Wyld Dance as a great opportunity to “start over and have a bigger learning experience in my life.”
Hamilton said: “(Skye) brings a really fun energy each week. She is full of life and attitude. It is infectious, and the whole team feeds off her energy.”
“I love how nice Coach (Hamilton) is,” Skye added. “She’s so nice, and I love how she doesn’t get mad if someone messes up a move (or) dance. She makes it fun.”
Skye joined the Wyld Dance Company that first year and danced with the Beta group; and this past year, Skye joined the high school Alpha team, which brought on new challenges for her.
“I have to try a lot harder than I did last year because everything I did last year was stuff I’ve done for years,” Skye said. “But it gave me a chance to correct and perfect those movements.”
As for being a part of the Alpha group this year, Skye said, “I low-key just jumped in and tried my hardest even if I messed up.”
Hamilton said that each dancer on the high school time is very unique.
“Everyone has something to offer and are very different from each other in personality and dance ability,” she said. “Skye is no exception to this. … Last year she was a great leader on the middle school team, but I have loved watching her grow and thrive this season on the high school team. She was absolutely meant to be in this group.”
Hamilton added that Skye gets along great with the rest of her dancemates too. “Since she is from Big Piney, you would think there would be a gap in her relationships with the other dancers, but there is no gap at all. She is a part of our dance family and all the girls on her team really enjoy her. She always speaks her mind and is totally cool with being herself, and I love that about her.”
Being a part of Wyld Dance Company in Pinedale also means it’s a drive for Skye coming from Big Piney.
“I mean sometimes it’s a pain in the butt to drive over there, but it’s worth it in the end,” she said. “And it sucks especially in the winter when the roads are bad.”
Hamilton said Skye’s greatest strengths are her dedication and commitment to dance, adding that since Skye lives in Big Piney and has to travel every week to and from dance class. Her dedication shows how much she enjoys dancing.
“I admire her for her hard work and dedication to the sport,” Hamilton said. “In class, (Skye) is fun to work with because she is willing to try new (sometimes crazy) things. The best dancers are not scared to take risks and try new things. It's an excellent quality to have. She takes on each dance I give her and does her best every week.”
This past season, Skye has gone to two competitions with the Alpha group of the Wyld Dance Company, first to Idaho Falls, Idaho, in March and then to Salt Lake City, Utah, in April.
Hamilton said that Skye’s previous competition experience allows her to bring a mature level of competition knowledge with her. “She knows how to perform and shines while she is on stage. Her confidence brought a lot of confidence out in our other team members.”
Skye performed in three group dances as well as a solo hip-hop routine.
“Skye was the one who picked to do a hip-hop solo this year,” Hamilton said, adding that Skye’s mother approached her last season and said Skye wanted to do a solo the following year and warned she wanted to do a hip-hop solo “because it is definitely her thing.”
“I couldn't help but agree with her,” Hamilton said. “Watching Skye do hip-hop is always fun. I am glad that she chose to showcase a dance where she is having fun and is representing the genre that she loves. You can absolutely tell it is her favorite.”
Skye said: “(Hip-hop) has always been my favorite, so it was an easy choice.”
At the first competition in Idaho Falls, Skye showed off her hip-hop skills and received a Ruby designation for her solo effort and two group dances with the group hip-hop receiving a Diamond.
“… the (Idaho Falls competition) didn’t go as well as I wanted,” Skye said. “I scored pretty low but in the (Salt Lake City) competition, I thought I did extremely well but (it) wasn’t good enough to qualify for Nationals.”
In Utah, Skye’s solo hip-hop routine was selected as a category winner with an Emerald placing at the Spotlight competition.
“… Overall, I’ve tried my hardest on that dance and that’s all that matters,” she said. However, the groups three team dances each received a Ruby rating to qualify to go to Nationals, where Skye will perform with her team during the first week of July in Las Vegas.
Skye and her dancemates are busy rehearsing for recital now as well as working to get donations and put together fundraisers to help with competition fees and travel expenses for the national competition.
“That it’ll be a great experience and a lot of fun,” Skye said of the upcoming Vegas challenge.
Hamilton said: “Skye is one of the fiercest hip-hop dancers we have. She really knows how to hit hard and precise with her movements and her attitude while dancing hip-hop is so entertaining. She really has that swag.”
Finishing all three competition dances with Ruby placings and qualifying for the national competition was about what Skye expected of her team.
“Our team has put a lot of time and effort into our dances,” Skye said. “And we’ve all tried out hardest.”
Hamilton said: “I really enjoyed watching her compete in the Spotlight competition this past April. All the kids really stepped it up, including Skye. She nailed her solo and her smile when she walked off stage and hugged me really showed how proud she was of herself.”
Hamilton said that moments like those, where she gets to see the dancers thrive and love what they do, are the moments that stick with her more than the routine itself.
“The passion she has really shined through in that moment,” Hamilton said, “and I will always remember that. I am proud of her and all her hard work.”
While points and performance are a main element to competition events, they can also provide a great opportunity to seeing movements and dances she hasn’t seen before and may want to try. “It gives me more of a challenge,” Skye said.
Competitions also have a downside.
“All the makeup we have to put on, or feeling like you and your team did extremely well but the points weren’t so good,” Skye said, as you just don’t know what a judge is looking to see.
Skye and the rest of her dancemates will take to the stage for the end-of-year recital June 3 and 4 in the Pinedale Auditorium, where there will be no judges or points.
Skye will have several group dances with the other Alpha group dances including contemporary, tap, jazz and two hip-hop routines as well as her solo hip-hop dance.
“The tap dance is the hardest for me,” Skye said. “I have never done tap until I started dancing with ‘Stasia.”
Skye plans to dance with the team and perform a solo again next year.
“But if something comes up and I can’t, it’ll be ok because I’ll know that dance has been a huge impact on my life and it got me where I am today,” she said.
Still, Skye said she is looking forward to the recital and to “dancing all of my dances and having a fun time and making memories.”