Seventh-grade dancer wins national Reflections award

June 1, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Madison Bristol, an Issaquah Middle School seventh-grader is the recipient of a National Award of Merit for her dance and choreography entry from the Parents, Teachers and Students Association.

“When I hear music it’s not just music or words,” Madison said. “I hear the beats in the background and I try to take that beat and move into it. When it’s a hard beat, I hit hard. When it’s a soft beat, I try to do long movements.”

Issaquah Middle School student Madison Bristol, 13, won a National Award of Merit for her dance and choreography entry, ‘Imagine’ from the Parents, Teachers and Students Association. Contributed

Madison won the award May 12 by participating in the PTSA’s nationwide Reflections competition, an annual competition that asks students to submit themed art entries in six categories — visual arts, photography, literature, music composition, film/video and dance choreography — based on a theme. This year’s theme was “Beauty is…”

Madison entered her performance, “Imagine,” in the dance/choreography category. Watch the winning performance here.

The choreographed lyrical dance to a cover of John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” by Eva Cassidy, was about 2 minutes long and Madison filmed it with help from her mother.

“This song is special, because it shows all the beauty in the world getting along together,” she said.

“She squeezed it in between her lessons and getting ready to perform in ‘The Nutcracker,’” her mother Janice Bristol said. “I said, ‘Are you kidding me girl?’ But she really wanted to do it.”

The two had time for only four takes. Neither expected it would move on to nationals, especially since 1,300 students competed in the districtwide competition this year.

“We have children that are exceptional, not just in dance, and their art is almost like a window to their soul,” Janice Bristol said of the districtwide selections. “It gives me great hope.”

Of those students, 241 moved onto the state competition and only 24 entries moved from state to the nationals in spring.

Madison started dancing because she was born with tibial torsion, which caused her legs to bow and made her walk on the balls of her feet, Janice Bristol said.

“I enrolled her in dance to help get her to learn where her feet are,” Janice said.

Madison has been dancing for nine years now, most recently under Viktoria Titova, director of the Emerald Ballet Theatre in Bellevue. She is also versed in point ballet, jazz, tap, modern, contemporary and hip-hop.

“Dance is like its own little world or language,” Madison said. “It is different from everything else.”

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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