Barnett Set For Starbound National Talent Competition
By Zenaida Gonzalez // June 13, 2014
Jordan Barnett Headed For National Dance Contest, Credits Homeschooling and Dance Studio
BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA — Fourteen-year-old Jordan Barnett is your average teenager when it comes to some of his favorite things like pizza and hanging out with his friends.
But that’s where the “average” comparison ends.
Jordan, of Viera, puts in 15-20 hours a week at Heather’s Dance Studio in Palm Bay and Indialantic taking classes that range from ballet and contemporary to hip hop and tap.
Until this year, he had spent another four or so hours a week in acting classes at Stage 1 Stars in Melbourne.
He opted to take theater classes through Brevard Heat to accommodate more dance hours. He also completed his freshman year of high school taking Algebra II, Biology Honors and English Honors among other courses through Florida Virtual School.
If you do the math, he should be finishing up eighth-grade, not ninth grade this year.
His life is focused around his dreams of either becoming a Broadway star or as a back up he said, a neuropsychologist.
“Dancing and performing, that’s my life,” said Jordan Barnett while taking a break at Heather’s Dance Studio.
“I’ve been doing it since I can remember. I just put on a song and no matter my mood, I start going and at the end of the song I’m either in a better mood or at the very least have choreographed a new piece. It moves me.”
So how did Jordan get here? It all started when he was ready for preK and his parents made a life-changing decision to homeschool.
“When he started preschool he was already reading first-grade level books,” said his mother Angie Barnett.
“So I went to our zoned school and asked the principal what they would do to meet his needs. To this day I am grateful for that principal’s honesty. They told me they would send him to first or second grade for reading and math.”
That was fine for the academics side, but Angie and her husband Bob knew Jordan wasn’t mature enough to be in a classroom of six or seven-year-olds. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone.
“It was scary at first,” said Bob Barnett. “You wonder, am I qualified to get my child ready from kindergarten to college prep? As a parent you are always concerned about making good choices for your children. But others had already paved the way in the area of homeschooling in our community. For our family, it was the right decision.”
It was a lot of work to get started. Angie Barnett did research and began teaching Jordan at home. There were some learning pains like figuring out that a five-year-old has to move and take breaks in between lessons.
But they worked together as a family and connected with several homeschooling groups in Brevard County.
They handpicked textbooks and other learning resources and began to tailor Jordan’s instruction. His learning advanced quickly.
Then came the moment he really got hooked with acting. It started because his mother was a little concerned he was seeing the world purely through academics.
She wanted to make sure his imagination and creativity wouldn’t be sacrificed, so she enrolled him in his first acting class at age 4 1/2.
As Jordan matured, the homeschooling schedule allowed him to dedicate more time to acting and eventually dancing.
Three years ago an acting coach suggested Jordan take some more intense dance classes to help with his stage presentation. So Angie Barnett called around and found Heather’s Dance Studio.
It offered a broad range of dance styles and flexible hours. After one year of dance classes, Jordan shifted his schedule and decreased his acting so he could take more dancing.
“Jordan loves acting. I think that says a lot about Heather and her studio, that he decided to shift,” Angie Barnett said. “They are so supportive here and they help students reach their potential. I think that’s why he wants to focus on dancing right now. But he’s not giving up on acting.”
ONLY BOY ON THE DANCE TEAM
After only one year with the studio, Jordan auditioned and made the competition team in 2012. He’s the only male on the teen/senior team. His first competition piece was a hip-hop number based on the story of Alice in Wonderland. He played the Mad Hatter.
Sure some folks teased him about his dancing and the all-female team.
“It just means more girls for me,” he said seriously and then broke out in laughter. “I enjoy the team. The girls are all very supportive and several of them told me they thought it was awesome to have a guy on the team.”
ABOVE VIDEO: Jordan Barnett has earned an invitation to the Starbound National Talent Competition finals in Orlando, July 23-26.
EARNED SCHOLARSHIP, INVITATION TO NATIONALS
This competition year he debuted two solos and is in several group numbers.
He earned a scholarship at the Pulse Dance Convention in November and earned enough gold and high gold awards at different competitions throughout the season that he earned an invitation to the Starbound National Talent Competition finals in Orlando, July 23-26.
All of Heather’s teams, which include the seniors, juniors, teen and mini-team, made of up 9 to 11-year-old girls, earned spots on the national stage.
“Jordan is awesome,” said nine-year-old Zophia Kotala who was touched that the teen and his family watched her debut her solo competition piece in February even though the performance began at 8 a.m. in Jacksonville. Jordan wasn’t scheduled to perform until 8 p.m. that day at the same venue.
“That says a lot about him. He’s so nice. He makes us all feel like he’s rooting for us all the time. And he’s such an awesome dancer.”
Jordan’s instructors sing similar praises.
“We’re so happy that Jordan and his parents joined our family,” said Heather Hall-Lobley, the studio’s artistic director and owner.
“We love to see our students progress and shine as they refine their talents. Jordan is an amazing young man who is not only dedicated to dance, but a wonderful role model for boys and girls interested in dancing.”
Hall-Lobley, the 2003 U.S. and World Theatrical Dance Sport Champion, opened Heather’s Dance Studio in 1998 with locations in Indialantic and Palm Bay.
She competed and performed throughout the world, on Broadway and was featured on PBS.
She and her team of instructors offer classes in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, gymnastics and musical theatre starting from age two through adult.
The studio is also home to several award-winning competition teams. The studio also offers summer dance camps June 2-9 and June 9-13 and a six week dance session starting June 16.
Jordan said he’s excited about the upcoming national competition.
“I never thought I’d be at the level of dance I am today when I first started in such a short period of time,” Jordan said. “I’m learning so much and am having so much fun.”
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ABOVE MAP: World Dance Champion Heather Hall-Lobley’s studio is located at 2528 Palm Bay Rd. in Palm Bay, Florida.