BENSON — Legacy Performing Arts competition dancers wowed judges with their performances and won three awards in a recent competition.

Held at the David M. Player Center for the Arts in Safford, the event marked the first competition for the company’s travel team.

Legacy coaches Karyn Carrillo and Kirsten Smith say they “are ecstatic” about the team’s results.

“This was the first competition ever for 12 of our 14 dancers,” Smith said. “For them to come home with three awards is such a fantastic achievement. We can’t wait to see how far this team will go.”

Because of COVID, productions slated for the 2020 season were canceled, noted Carrillo, who co-owns Legacy with her husband, Karson.

“We opened our studio July 2019, then missed out on all of our performance opportunities when events were canceled because of the pandemic. We’re so proud of the girls, especially for continuing to work hard and stay with our program, even though this was a very unusual season.”

Legacy’s junior company of 10 dancers, ranging from 6 to 12 years of age, performed a jazz routine to “Banana Split for My Baby,” and won first place in their division.

Anya Allred, one of the junior company dancers, described the hard work and preparation that goes into learning different routines for competitions.

“We prepared for our dance competition for a long time,” she said. “We probably did our dance a thousand times. It was hard work, but performing on stage with all my teammates was amazing. We wowed the judges, our families and even ourselves.”

Rylynn Smith, 6, who has been dancing since she was 3, won second place for her tap solo performance in the petite division.

“Her song choice, ‘Better When I’m Dancin’ is her life motto,” said Rylynn’s mother and Legacy coach Kirsten Smith. “Rylynn has been working on this solo for 10 months and never got tired of practicing. Her dedication and passion for dance at such a young age is extraordinary.”

Rylynn returned to the stage to perform a duet with one of Legacy’s senior company dancers, Kylie Shores. The two won a first-place trophy for their lyrical dance to the song “A Million Dreams.”

Describing the duet as a “tear jerker,” Carrillo praised Shores for her leadership qualities and for being a positive example to the team’s young dancers.

The senior company competed against eight other groups in the Teen Small Group division and delivered a high-energy jazz routine to “Get Dat.” With a team of four dancers ranging from 12 to 17 years old, the group placed fourth and earned “great feedback from the judges,” Smith said.

High school senior Aidan Tiippens, a member of the senior dance company, said she loved competing with the group.

“This was their first competition,” she said. “I remember my first competition and how scary but exciting it was. I’m so proud of all of our team.”

Along with traveling to competitions, the Legacy team also performs at parades and numerous local events throughout the year. The team won first-place awards for its performance in the Benson Butterfield Parade and Tombstone Helldorado Days Parade, both in October.

“Dance is so much more than dancing,” Carrillo said. “We have become a family. We are role models. We are inspired by each other and we help each other.”

To prepare for competitions, the students practiced routines in front of family and friends through a Christmas recital in December. They are working to perfect those routines in preparation for upcoming competitions in Phoenix in April.

The Legacy studio is planning a recital in June in which the company dancers, along with all the Legacy Performing Arts performers, will have opportunities to show off months of hard work and practice.

The studio offers jazz, hip hop, ballet, musical theater and gymnastics classes and welcomes students as young as 2½ years old.

Legacy Performing Arts is at 801 W. Fourth St. in Benson. Enrollment for the spring semester is underway until March 1. For information, call 520-895-2138 or find the company on Facebook.