Stepping it up

She’s danced since she was very young, but never thought she’d have an opportunity like this.

Recently, Hannah Harfst, of Webster City, was chosen to take part in “Nationals at Sea,” a weeklong Carnival cruise with Celebrity Dance Competitions. Hannah Harfst’s mother and dance coach, Becky Harfst, said the Celebrity company holds competitions around the country. At each of their stops, they choose one or two dancers to participate in the program.

“This company is awesome,” Becky Harfst said. “They give these kids such wonderful opportunities and have so many different connections.”

Hannah Harfst competed at the Celebrity competition in Ames. Out of about 120 dancers at the event, Hannah Harfst and a dancer from Cedar Rapids were chosen for the trip. Hannah Harfst said she couldn’t believe it when she was chosen.

“I was completely in awe,” Hannah Harfst said. “Who would have thought that someone from Webster City would have this opportunity?”

This past week, Hannah Harfst traveled to Phoenix, Ariz., where Celebrity Dance Competitions is based, to prepare for the cruise. While there, Hannah Harfst trained with professionals to learn dance routines. She will not only be performing during the cruise, but will also be assisting with workshops and helping with other needs as the cruise travels from New Orleans across the Gulf of Mexico to a couple locations on the horn of Mexico and back.

To prepare, Hannah Harfst worked early in the day into the night, typically dancing from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. She trained alongside 13 other dancers who were chosen to assist on the cruise. She and the other dancers got to know each other as they trained, but had little time for much else.

“You were pushed a lot more than you were used to, because we were working with professionals and they treated you like you were too,” Hannah Harfst said. “Because of who we were working with, it made us all try very hard.”

Hannah Harfst just returned to Webster City on Thursday. After such a long, tough week of dance, she feels like she’s learned a lot.

“I’m coming back as a new dancer for sure. It’s weird how someone can change over a week,” Hannah Harfst said.

As a Celebrity crew member, Hannah Harfst will fly to New Orleans next week. The Nationals at Sea event will bring many other dancers to compete on the cruise. She will continue to practice several dance routines that she and her other crew members will perform at the end of the cruise. In addition, she will be helping other dancers learn at workshops, which she said is an interesting step forward for her.

“I’ve always looked up to those teachers, and I didn’t think I would be one of them. I have to focus, get my dances down, and help other people understand how to do it,” Hannah Harfst said.

She said that this experience is a great step in her career path as well, as Hannah Harfst plans to go into professional dance.

Hannah Harfst was not the first student from The Dance Connection picked to be a Celebrity crew member. Her longtime friend Madeline Ogg was picked to take part in the program last year. Both Hannah Harfst and Ogg were proud of each other for their accomplishment.

“To have two students chosen from the same dance studio two years in a row, is for me as a dance teacher, a huge compliment,” Becky Harfst said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these students.”