Day after day, Kaiden Currie perfected his routine. The Merrimac resident spent hours going over each step, making sure that when the time came and the music hit, he would be ready to perform.
When the time finally came last weekend, that work paid off in spades.
Currie won the junior male solo title at this past weekend’s International Dance Organization World Tap Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany, beating out 24 of the world’s best young tap dancers to claim the gold medal.
“It’s honestly beyond words,” said Currie, a Pentucket Regional High School freshman. “I’ve trained for this for six months, just these dances, and it’s insane to think about winning a gold medal after all the work that you’ve done.”
Currie came home with four medals in all. He won gold as a soloist and as part of a formation, where he teamed with 24 other dancers, including fellow Pentucket students Michelle Reading and Bella Brancato. He also won silver medals in a small group and with a trio, the latter of which included Andover’s Nicholas Cafua, who attends Central Catholic.
The performance was the high point of what has already been an illustrious dancing career for Currie, who has been tap dancing for as long as he’s been able to walk.
Both Currie’s mother, Tiffany, and his grandmother have dancing experience. When Currie was a toddler, the two used to teach lessons in Lynnfield, so the young Kaiden would often tag along and try to dance as they gave their lessons.
“I would sit in the corner and learn all the dances,” he said.
As Currie grew older, he began to develop his own passion for the sport. He started taking proper lessons as soon as he was old enough, and for the past six years he has been training at Nancy Chippendale’s Dance Studio in North Andover, which has become like a home away from home.
“It’s probably my favorite place to be in the whole world,” Currie said. “It’s a big family, we’re all surrounded by our best friends and it’s a great environment. It’s a place that you can be yourself and they push you to be the best you can possibly be.”
Though generally there are a lot fewer male tap dancers than female in America, Currie has never been isolated in his pursuit. His studio is home to approximately 50 local boys and it also serves as a hub for others looking to prepare for the World Championships. Once in Germany, there are plenty of other male competitors from around the world, which Currie has found encouraging.
“It’s always interesting to see that boys from across the U.S. will actually fly in to train with us to prepare for Germany, and we also have a tap festival where many people will come from all over the world and train over the summer,” Currie said. “It’s awesome to see that there are a lot of male tap dancers in the world.”
Currie got his first taste of major international competition in 2016 when he qualified for worlds for the first time. He has now competed three times, and between various solo and group dances, he has taken home nine medals in total, six golds, two silvers and a bronze.
He hadn’t yet won a gold in solo competition prior to this weekend, however, but after two previous trips to Germany, he knew exactly what it would take this time.
“This time when I was going on stage, I wasn’t nervous,” said Currie, who danced to Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” in his solo routine. “I was very calm because I knew a lot of the people there and I felt more comfortable in the arena, and I felt more prepared this year.”
With a world championship under his belt, Currie said his goal going forward is to try to defend his title and hopefully continue to compete for championships once he ages into the adult division. He also aspires to one day follow in his family’s footsteps and become a dance instructor himself, which he hopes will give him the opportunity to serve as a role model for others just like him.
“It’s always been one of my dreams to work at a studio and teach kids because it’s what I love to do,” Currie said. “It would be special to teach a group of boys, because it’s tough as a boy to dance when you don’t have a male teacher with you.”