The Green River Area Down Syndrome Association’s (GRADSA) dance teams – the Star Squad and Pop Stars – auditioned for a spot on NBC’s America’s Got Talent (AGT). One of the dancer’s moms saw the team perform at the Riverpark Center last year and was so astounded she immediately submitted the performance recording to AGT.
Head coach Samantha Payne said she was skeptical when the parent first brought up the idea but knew the team was loaded with talent.
“We had just finished finished our performance at the Riverpark during the Owensboro Dance Theatre’s concert when she approached me in the hallway,” Payne said. “She ran to us excitedly, immediately saying the performance was AGT-worthy.”
Because the national TV show was in the middle of its downtime, response to the submission was slow. Earlier this fall, NBC producers called GRADSA to inform the nonprofit they were selected to participate in a virtual audition.
Payne and the team immediately began preparing and fine-tuning their rendition of “The Greatest Showman.” They leaned on Owensboro Christian Church for space and assistance with production elements.
“Our original routine was 4 minutes long, and we thought we could simply prepare the same dance,” she said. “We soon discovered they would have to trim the routine to 90 seconds. We also added new members and updated our costumes, which has been great.”
They chose the song “This Is Me,” which is a favorite of the group. Payne said she had difficulty reeling in her nerves, but it was no problem for the team.
“I know how amazing these dancers are, and the fact that they’re getting this recognition is unbelievable to me,” she said. “I asked them if they were nervous, and they said not at all. They were just excited and eager to perform.”
GRADSA is expected to find out if the team will make it to the next round of auditions in February or March.