Soon to be 13, Tooele resident LeClair Beard has been dancing since she was four years old. Beard made the decision to begin dancing in preschool.
“I just needed something to do, so we found dance,” Beard said.
Beard quickly developed into a talented dancer, fell in love with the sport, and began competing in dance competitions.
“Dance is kind of like a home away from home and it’s just really fun,” Beard said.
Now, Beard practices ballet, contemporary, lyrical, and jazz styles at the Rhythm Dance Academy, located in Tooele City for at least three hours a day, which comes out to around 21 hours per week.
“Lyrical is my favorite,” she said. “Because it can be happy or sad depending on the song. It’s just really easy to express yourself.”
Beard transitioned to an online public school, Utah Connections Academy, in 2018, because of her devotion to dance. She wanted to be able to work with an instructor on her solos during the day.
“It’s kind of hard not attending regular school, because I don’t have a lot of friends but it’s also kind of nice,” Beard said. “Attending online school gives me a lot of freedom, because I usually like to do school work at the beginning of the week so I have the rest of my week to dance.”
Beard has traveled all over the country competing in dance competitions. She has won the title of Junior Miss Starbound.
Starbound National Talent Competition was created in 1994. It is the largest dance competition in the U.S.
During Starbound, dancers perform for a panel of judges who offer them critiques.
Beard also recently competed in the Spotlight Dance Cup in Seattle.
“We usually dance first and those dances can be anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour apart,” Beard explained about her competitions. “Then you wait for awards, and you can get your score, and your overalls out of your whole category or age group.”
During each competition, Beard usually competes in jazz, lyrical, and contemporary styles.
This year, Beard will be busy traveling the county and attending even more competitions.
“You get to meet a lot of new people and see a lot of different dances,” she said about her time spent traveling.
A few years ago, Beard dislocated her kneecap and shattered the bone that holds together all of the tendons in her leg.
“When she fell, it took her knee cap up to her thigh and they had to go in and replace it,” Beard’s mother, Kinsey Beard explained. “She had screws to hold the tendons until they were repaired.”
Because of her injury Beard had to undergo surgery but her surgery didn’t stop her from continuing to dance.
“I took off two weeks and then I was dancing in a wheelchair,” she laughed.
Beard said trying to find songs to dance to has also been challenging.
If Beard could no longer dance, she said she would watch dance.
“I would want to support other dancers,” she said.
In the future, Beard aims to become a professional dancer or a dance teacher.
Despite being a dance prodigy, Beard is a regular 7th grade girl.
“We have three dogs and my brothers play hockey, so I like to go to hockey games,” she said.