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Wed, Dec. 11

Third-generation dancer wins national competition

Alex Bates, 15, of Williamson Valley, won Overall Solo Champion at a national dance competition in Chicago.

Courtesy<br> Alex Bates, 15, of Williamson Valley, won Overall Solo Champion at a national dance competition in Chicago.

WILLIAMSON VALLEY - Alex Bates, 15, is continuing in the footsteps - or dance steps - of her two grandmothers and her mother.

Alex, the only child of Leslie France and Mike Bates of Williamson Valley, is the granddaughter of two retired professional dance teachers: Barbara Lusch of Portland, Ore., and Irene Bates of Litchfield Park. Her mother earned a bachelor's degree in dance from the University of Oregon, and opened a studio with her mother in Portland.

"Alex did not have an option," France said. "She was born to be a dancer. It's in her genes."

Alex, a native of Portland and a sophomore at Prescott High School, started taking ballet lessons at the age of 4 while living in Oxford, England, France said. She currently practices 15 hours a week, and credits her dance teacher at The Dance Studio in Prescott, Donna Casey, for her numerous successes.

"I really like dancing because it lets you express yourself and it is a good way to keep in shape and a fun way to make friends and challenge yourself," Alex said.

Referring to her mother, Alex said, "She does not have to push me much."

Alex gained acclaim in July while participating in the Dupree National Final Dance Competition in Chicago. The competition drew more than 200 youths, including boys.

She earned the title of Dupree National Overall Solo Champion in the age group of 13 to 15. She won first place in all three solo categories and a "specialty award" for overall excellence for her lyrical solo.

While in Chicago, Alex performed as a member of the Dupree All-Star Team, a group of 16 dancers from throughout the country.

Alex drew praise from an 18-year-dancer who also lives in Williamson Valley and has earned national acclaim: Piper Stoeckel.

"I have watched her throughout competitions, and I've rooted for her all the way," said Stoeckel, now a freshman in the prestigious dance program at the University of Arizona. "She is extremely talented. She is a strong dancer. She catches everybody's attention."

Alex plans to attend college out of state, and is considering a career in dance.

"I'm not sure yet," Alex said. "I kind of want to be a veterinarian ­- or continue on Broadway."

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