When Jaidyn Tabony stepped into a dance studio for the first time at age 3, she visited using a free pass for a single lesson.
“I remember it being so much fun, and I knew very quickly that there was nothing I wanted to do more,” said Jaidyn, now 12. “I was playing soccer then, too, and stopped because it was getting in the way of my dance time.”
For the past nine years, the Pleasant Hill girl has channeled her love and commitment to her art as a performer, teacher, choreographer and, most recently, as a world champion.
In December, Jaidyn and fellow team members with American Tap Company’s TEAM USA brought home a gold medal from the 2018 World Tap Championships held in Riesa, Germany. Jaidyn was one of a 20-member ensemble that took gold in the Junior Formation category with their dance, “Apocalyptic.”
The dance, performed by teen dancers carrying cell phones as props, conveyed a powerful message for their peers.
“There’s a story behind the dance,” Jaidyn said. “It’s a whole bunch of teens addicted to their phones who realize they can dance and do something other than be on their phones. They dance and it becomes the most meaningful thing in the world to them.”
Jaidyn attends classes and practices 20 to 30 hours a week at multiple area studios, including Eva Moore’s Performing Art Center, Miller Marley Dance Studio in Overland Park and Blue Springs Ballet. She also dances and competes with the American Tap Company in Boston, the National USA Tap Team and the Detroit Tap Repertory.
Though she practices ballet, jazz, contemporary and hip-hop, tap is the form that most inspires her.
“Tap is unique,” she said. “I like the freedom and it has no limits.”
Whether she’s in a dance studio or not, Jaidyn always find time and space to practice her chosen dance form.
“When I was younger, my dad made me a dance board in the basement to tap on,” she said. “I was always dancing and I would have little dance shows with my friends for my parents. When my mom took me to the grocery store, I made up dances in the aisles.”
Her supportive father recently got the teen a board for tapping outside, and Jaidyn said she loves to go out at sunset and dance.
In addition to studio time, Jaidyn competes and performs in regional competitions, festivals and other events. On top of her full practice, performance and competition schedule, Jaidyn also teaches tap and creates choreography for tap routines.
She leads classes for middle- and high-school students at local studios, and has taught advanced classes at the Detroit Tap Repertory to students ages 9 to 30.
Through teaching, Jaidyn shares her vision of the power of dance.
“Dancing has a message and it can change the world.”
Jaidyn’s parents have seen firsthand the inspiration their daughter brings to her students.
“One of our favorite things is to watch Jaidyn’s face light up when she’s teaching,” said John Tabony. “She loves when other dancers catch on to something they don’t know yet.”
Though Jaidyn finds great joy in her art, the dance world, in particular its competitive element, has presented the young dancer with some tough challenges throughout the years.
“Being judged in competition is hard,” she said. “It’s not that it bothers me that badly, but you’d prefer to entertain people.
“There can also be a sense of not feeling good enough,” she added. “That’s really hard because I’m a perfectionist. So, I have to find the confidence to tell myself I don’t have to be perfect and just go out and dance.”
Over the years, Jaidyn’s father has watched his daughter face these challenges.
“We’re so proud of how hard Jaidyn works,” he said. “The journey has been filled with joy, as well as tears, as we’ve watched her overcome new fears and challenges each year.”