A local dancer has taken her talents beyond the Bronx.
Laurielle Echevarria, a 14-year old dancer from Throggs Neck who graduated from the Urban Institute of Mathematics and will attend the Professional Performing Arts School in the fall, performed at Amateur Night at the Apollo last month, advancing to the Apollo’s ‘Show Off’ round.
For her first performance on July 31, Echevarria performed her dance routine to Whitney Houston’s 1993 song ‘I Have Nothing’.
Laurielle may have been performing in a different borough, but she received tremendous local encouragement from over 120 of her fellow family members and Throggs Neck neighbors who attended the show, including her mom, aunt and cousins.
Laurielle performed in front of an Apollo sellout crowd of over 1,500 people.
Her aunt, Loreen Mooney, Laurielle’s number one fan who also works at PEDA, reflected on her niece’s commitment to dance.
“I tell her before every performance, ‘Look in the mirror – you are your only competition,’” she proudly said about Laurielle, an only child. “She was always the youngest in her dance group and we were tough on her – but she still succeeded and continued to get better.”
Echevarria advanced to the second round, the Show Off round, at Amateur Night at the Apollo on Wednesday, August 14, facing off against other talented performers from other dance academies citywide, where she once again performed to the Whitney Houston tune.
She did not win the second round, but made such an impression that she was chosen to perform in the Amateur Night Holiday Special at the Apollo on Saturday, December 14 as a special guest. The Amateur Night Holiday Special is a yearly dance recital that features the recent Amateur Night at the Apollo winners who dance to holiday classics.
Practicing dance for almost her entire life, Laurielle has trained in all dance genres, from ballet, tap and jazz to contemporary, lyrical and hip hop.
“Laurielle has trained, performed and competed the whole year in preparation for this event,” said Stefanie Salaman Minetti, director and owner of PEDA. Echevarria is Salaman Minetti’s cousin.
“I’ve known Laurielle her whole life – and she continues to work hard and consistently strives for improvement.”
“I learned a lot from (Stefanie) – she taught me how to be a humble dancer, a hard worker and better person overall,” said Echevarria, who mentioned that Stefanie was one of her biggest supporters and influences. “She also taught me how to be loyal to my true passion and to put my all into it.”
Laurielle said that another major influence on her dancing career was mega pop star and Apollo legend Michael Jackson, because he worked hard no matter how famous he became.
In July, Echevarria performed at the National Dance Competition with over 80 other performers from PEDA at Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut.
Her goal is to open a dance studio in another country for underprivileged children, where she can instruct students who otherwise would’t have the finances or resources to acquire that training.