Claiming its rightful place in the spotlight, Momentum Dance Company is making waves in the community. The competition-based group is gaining recognition as an authentic institution after bringing home 16 trophies from the Las Vegas Hall of Fame’s National Competition this past July.
Their success was greatly attributed to the woman behind the scenes, Betsy Ann Woyach. A dancer, choreographer, and master instructor of 17 years, Woyach created Momentum Dance to inspire dancers to reach new levels in their art, set goals, build self-esteem, and demonstrate true teamwork. “In short, we went to Nationals really not expecting much … and we walked away with some pretty huge titles,” Woyach said. “Our teen contemporary duet won the title of Top Teen Duo/Trio, and our Junior Hip-Hop Trio made it into the Duo/Trio showdown.”
After competing professionally for 10 years, Woyach went on to create the University of Georgia’s first hip-hop dance program while a student there. Upon graduating, she pursued dance professionally in Los Angeles, which ultimately led to her landing a job instructing the International Dance Academy in Hollywood.
Woyach created the Momentum Dance Company after moving to Santa Barbara in 2013. “I started teaching in S.B. five years ago and was baffled that there were no competition studios, that everything here was performance-based,” Woyach explained. “I think of Momentum as bridging that gap between the professional competition world in L.A. and the small town of S.B.”
When asked how a competitive dance company is different than a performance-based one, Woyach responded, “[The dancers] are taking away such critical life lessons at these competitions that are just unparalleled to local performance-based companies. Dancing in front of world-renowned dancer-choreographers, instructors, and performers and getting judges’ feedback and awards are just a whole other realm.”
She went on to explain that the goal of Momentum Dance is to empower young dancers through dance education to prepare them for life after they leave “the studio.” “It’s teaching these dancers to believe in themselves,” she said. “We are teaching them to set goals and see that accomplishing these goals is possible with hard work, commitment, and self-confidence.”
Momentum Dance offers training for different ages and skill levels. “We offer classes starting at age 3 and 4, but you have to be at least 5 years old to be on the competitive teams. Our recreational classes go all the way up to adult tap classes, and we have a pro competitive company comprised of dancers ages 19 and older,” Woyach explained. “Each team trains in jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and hip-hop with the opportunity to learn tap, as well. I love teaching hip-hop — it became my niche — but tap is very close to my heart, and I love getting lost in the emotions of teaching or setting a lyrical piece.”
Company members also have the opportunity to compete as a solo, duet, or trio if invited by Woyach to do so. “These are dancers in S.B. looking for the closest training to professional that they can receive. They train with guest instructors from L.A. that teach exclusively to the company.”
Not only does Woyach draw on her dense dance background to bring Momentum to life, but she also draws inspiration from her dancers, friends, and family. “As an artist, inspiration is everywhere. The dancers themselves and their stories inspire me so much recently,” she said. “What they face and the things they go through, they help me tell their story through dance. My son [also] inspires me on a daily basis. He has been the catalyst for so many of Momentum’s dances.”
Perhaps what makes Momentum Dance Company most special is that it is the product of a young girl’s fantasy. “I have dreamed about Momentum ever since I was a preteen and knew I wanted a studio,” Woyach said. “I talked about it constantly my whole life. There was never ‘if I have a studio’ but ‘when I have my studio.’” Momentum Dance was born 11 months after the birth of Woyach’s son. “Staying true to how I always said I would run my studio and not allowing anything but the sheer love of dance [to] be my guide has been my greatest accomplishment.”
For more information on Momentum Dance Company (316-A State St.), call (805) 364-1638 or see momentumdancesb.com.