Adalynn “Adi” Nicholson’s drive to be a top competitive dancer is starting to pay off — even at age nine.

The McPherson resident scored a scholarship to the 2018 DancerPalooza convention this July in San Diego, where she’ll learn from dozens of the industry’s best. Choreographers like Twitch, Travis Wall, Mandy Moore and Stacey Tookey will teach everything from jazz and tap to contemporary and ballroom.

“This will be an amazing experience for her to learn from some of the world’s best choreographers at this age. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Ashlea Nicholson, Adi’s mom. “At DancerPalooza, there’s the best kids from all over the nation in one place. I think it will help her grown and help her be an even better dancer. It’s not every day you have a chance to learn from these incredible choreographers.”

Adi started dancing at age three, and over the past six years, progressed successfully into competition.

“She needed something to do and she loved it, so we went from there,” Nicholson said. “About two years ago, she got the taste of the stage and wanted to compete. Well, we couldn’t do that at the studio we were at in Salina, so we looked at several studios in Wichita and she got to pick which one she liked best. Now she’s at Kelsey’s Dance Studio.”

Adi earned the scholarship out of thousands of other dancers at a JUMP Dance Convention in Kansas City this year.

“We go to JUMP every year, which is workshops and competition. We didn’t get a scholarship last year, so I’d never heard about DancerPalooza until she got this scholarship,” Nicholson said. “To get that scholarship, she had to do something to stand out and they saw her potential.”

At DancerPalooza, Adi hopes to boost her skills in her top genres, while also learning more about other forms of dance.

“Since my scholarship was in musical theater and ballroom, I have to take those workshops, and then I can take other things as well,” Adi said. “I want to learn more jazz. Ballet is very slow, and hip hop is kind of fast, so in jazz, you get a little of both.”

Of course, this opportunity comes with a price tag. The $250 scholarship will assist with the $850 tuition cost, but the Nicholsons still needs to cover costs of travel and food.

“For a week’s worth of workshops, that’s a great price for everything, it’s just the cost of everything else. It’s right by the beach so everything is expensive there. But it sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun for her,” Nicholson said.

Ashlea Nicholson has fundraisers set up on Facebook and through GoFundMe. Donations may be made at

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.