Ella Grace Cunningham Reflects on Her Year as 2017 Tremaine Dancer of the Year

What does it mean to be Tremaine Dancer of the Year?

DOTY (Dancer of the Year), is when you go to Tremaine Nationals and basically audition against 300 girls to win the title of DOTY. When you win dancer of the year, you travel and assist the Tremaine faculty, and you represent them. Depending on how many cities you go to, you will perform a solo in the faculty show.


Tell us a little bit about the audition process for Tremaine Dancer of the Year?

For the auditions, first you learn a ballet combination. You will get cut or be asked to stay. Then, you learn a jazz combination, and you will get cut or be asked to stay. Then, they narrow it down to about 15 girls to be the finalist. Once you're a finalist, they will give you a red ribbon and watch you throughout the week (even around the hotel). The faculty will interview about 5 girls at a time and ask questions to get to know you.  Throughout the week, we have special rehearsals for a dance that we perform at the gala.

What cities did you travel to?

  • Houston
  • New Orleans
  • Atlanta
  • Chicago
  • St. Louis
  • Dallas
  • Orlando (my favorite city)

How has being Tremaine Junior Female Dancer of the Year made a difference in your life?

It has taught me responsibility 100%. I've been able to meet people throughout the United States, and I've been able to get closer to people I have met. Not only have I become closer with old friends and met new ones, but I've also grown a bond with the faculty members. I was able to get to know them and grow closer to them because of the time spent (long hours) with them. They’ve grown to be like my family.

What were some of your favorite memories of your year as Tremaine Junior Female Dancer of the Year?

  • Hearing my name announced as dancer of the year
  • Busting my lip in Keri's class in Dallas (she called me out to do it by myself, I did it so full out I busted my lip)
  • My very first city, I was so scared and confused. I didn't know anyone, but now that I've become more comfortable with the process, I've grown to love it. It really does go by so fast. I just want to go back and do it all again. It was so fun!
Lynn Prejean
Reflections on Last Years Journey

When we decided to use “Celebrate the Journey” as our recital theme this past year, I truly did not realize all of the milestones in my personal life that I would be celebrating. Fate intervened, and we knew that “celebration” would be the perfect theme when, ironically, for our 5th Annual Dance Recital as Machita Dance Company, we pulled the date May 5th, Cinco de Mayo! A celebration…. perfect for our recital!

During this past dance year, we celebrated Miss Courtney Talbot and Mr. Johnny’s engagement, Miss Jade and Mr. Kurt’s marriage, and the birth of Miss Jillian and Mr. Dexter’s new baby. Miss Courtney has been a big part of my life for many years. I have witnessed her journey as a young child to a beautiful adult who makes me proud every day. I could not have handpicked someone more perfect for her and can’t wait for the festivities to begin! In December, we celebrated Miss Jade and Mr. Kurt’s marriage. Their love for God, each other, and their students shines brightly. Their journey has impacted and will continue to impact our community in a positive way for many years to come.


On April 18, 2018, one of my biggest celebrations in life happened when my first grandbaby, Kaitlee Marie Courville, was born! The pure joy of witnessing Miss Jillian and Mr. Dexter’s love for each other and their new daughter is a blessing for me. Mr. Brian and I are thrilled to be new grandparents!


My hardest and most painful, but beautiful celebration was the life of my father-in-law, Mr. Rod Prejean. He passed away March 30, 2018. He was a very special man who taught me so much about love, forgiveness and giving back to others. I know that he is continuously watching over my family and celebrating every moment with us.

pe-paw and girls recital 2003.jpg

As I laid in my bed the night before the recital, I thought “after everything that happened in the past year of dance, I am home free. Surely, nothing else could happen, good or bad.” At 11:30pm I got a phone call that my father had a major stroke. We were told he was not going to live. I was obviously devastated and wondered how I was going to make the recital work. If my father did not make it, my whole family would not be able to function. After the procedure to remove many clots in his brain was over, the doctor kept telling me that he couldn’t believe my dad made it through. He told me this was a miracle. I walked in his room and he looked amazing. He told me when he was at home by his self and couldn’t get up for 2 hours, he felt like the commercial “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” 


That is when I thought to myself, I have a recital to run! I thank God every day that he gave me that time. My world could have fallen apart. Instead, I had my dad and I could go be with my students that have worked so hard all year. This was their day, and I couldn’t be more proud!


We were able to “Celebrate the Journey” of the dance year on May 5th. What a journey our studio has had! The faculty and I are ready to celebrate more journeys with our students. I celebrate the continued growth of MDC and what the future holds.

Thank you to everyone that is a part of our MDC family for your love and support! I invite you to continue our journey together as we help develop our student’s dancing skills while instilling self-confidence and self-discipline. We strive for our students to feel happy, loved and comfortable at Machita Dance Company! 


Let The Journey Begin!
Lynn Prejean

Lynn Prejean