TAMPA — Amanda Mitchell is modest enough, but she definitely thinks she can dance.
In fact, she was one of the top 20 girls in the country on the television show, “So You Think You Can Dance.” Despite not winning the competition, it helped her win a lot more. She was offered more than $250,000 in college scholarships as well as plenty of opportunities to not only dance but to coach others.
The Blake High School graduate lives in Carrollwood and has danced at the All American Dance Factory, 13149 N. Dale Mabry Highway, since before she can remember. She learned under the teaching of Terri Howell, whom she considers to be a second mother.
For the summer, Mitchell headed to New York City to rehearse with the New York City Dance Alliances. But she isn’t coming home soon. What was supposed to be a 10-day audition has turned into a much longer stay — she is going to attend Pace University and major in Commercial Dance.
It’s been a fun run for Mitchell since she got her start. Her older sister was supposed to be the dancer in the family, but instead, the baton fell to Mitchell, who has loved dancing from the start.
Mitchell dances various styles, from ballet to contemporary jazz and beyond. And while she admits to listening to Beyonce, she has an appreciation for all kinds of music.
“I wasn’t that good at first,” she said on a phone call from New York. “I didn’t think I could ever dance solo in front of a lot of people, but when I was in fifth grade, I gave it a chance and just kept on getting better and more confident.”
She’s danced all over the country, but she never left the All American Dance Factory. She’s been there since the start and her heart will always belong there.
After attending Chamberlain High, she transferred to Blake for its dance program and never regretted it.
Dancing isn’t as easy as it sounds. Like figure skaters and gymnasts, dancing is a full-time grind for kids. She had four periods of dance each day during her senior year at Blake, and then four more hours at the dance studio at night, training from 5 to 9 p.m.
Somehow, she maintained an excellent GPA and also taught private dance lessons.
Mitchell is focused on her dancing and has some pretty high goals. She wants to concentrate, for now, on contemporary ballet and travel the world as a concert dancer.
After college, she would like to join a touring company or maybe even dance on a cruise ship.
Howell said she can have almost anything she wants.
“She is so gifted and such a great girl, it has been an honor to teach her,” Howell said. “She can do anything.”