Friday, February 23, 2024

Lantana teen finds confidence through dance

Anyone who competes on the hit show “America’s Got Talent” has to be battling a ton of nerves in the moments right before they walk on that stage for the first time. After all, they’re on television. It’s a live crowd. Life-changing opportunity awaits if they do well, and a panel of celebrity judges such as Simon Cowell and Heidi Klum are waiting to be impressed.

The show must go on, though. You have to be yourself, trust in your limitless talent, and have fun doing what you were born to do. That was 13-year-old Breez Carver’s attitude just before she performed on July 6 — and she nailed it.

“That was the best feeling I’ve had in my entire life,” Carver said. “I blocked out all the nerves on stage.”

Breez Carver (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

Carver, a Lantana teen who took her first dance lesson at 5 years old and had been competing professionally in jazz, lyrical, contemporary, ballet, and hip-hop dancing since she was 6, performed a picture-perfect lyrical dance to the Kelly Clarkson song, “Piece by Piece.”

Season 16 judges Cowell, Klum, Howie Mandel, and Sofia Vergara all gave her a “Yes,” instantly propelling the young girl with a smile that will melt your heart on to the next round.

“Breez, that was perfection. You were meant to do this,” Vergara said immediately following the performance, which got a standing ovation. “You looked like you were floating, that you were enjoying it. You looked beautiful.”

It was Carver’s first time on AGT, and although she did not make the Wild Card round, she will be an alternate. The middle rounds of this year’s AGT have been cut out for the Olympics, so the show is going from judge auditions straight to the live show. Only 36 of the more than 200 acts who made it to the auditions will advance to the live show.

In the meantime, plenty has been written on young Breez, who already had 24,000 Instagram followers before the AGT performance.

She currently dances with DV8, a dance company based in Southlake at Dana’s Studio of Dance, and Dallas-based The Vision Project. In 2019, Carver tried out for Team USA for dance and spent two weeks in Poland just before the COVID-19 outbreak.

A casting producer with AGT saw Carver’s performances on YouTube and urged her to compete in Season 16.

“When my mom and I read the email, we kept saying, ‘We have to do it. We have to do it,’” she said with a laugh.

Even with all of that experience, Carver said finally being on the AGT stage was a different experience.

“AGT is completely different from a competition stage. I don’t think my nerves completely went away until after it was over, but I was very proud of myself,” she said. “I’m happy that I was able to go out there and do my best. Howie is hilarious, and I didn’t realize how tall Heidi is. She’s so tall, and she’s wearing heels, too. She’s gorgeous.”

She added, “They all gave me incredible feedback.”

When you see someone like Breez perform, it’s clear that the talent is there. The real story is the confidence with which she performs. This is a girl who, at 5 years old, was in the process of being adopted by her parents, Michael and Kristen Carver. She had a rough start to life, and even though there was an instant connection with her new family — the Carvers also have two older sons, Breck and Blade — she was incredibly shy.

“She didn’t believe in herself and wouldn’t make a lot of eye contact,” Kristen Carver recalls. The adoption wasn’t official until Breez was 6. “The first time we took her to dance lessons, she wouldn’t even let go of the teacher’s hand. My sons kept saying, ‘Mom, you have to tell her to let go,’ and my response was always, ‘She’ll get there.’ The boys were very encouraging and were always telling her she could do anything. And I think that helped her.”

In the years since, Breez is a completely different young girl. She’s energetic, well-spoken, and well beyond her years in many ways. Her AGT performance reflected that as the song “Piece by Piece” and the choreography that went with it (a combination of ballet and jazz techniques) were meant to depict her adoption story and her parents encouraging her to be more confident in herself.

Piece by piece, that’s exactly what Breez learned to do.

“I would always hide behind my mom in the past. It wasn’t until I started dancing that I became less and less shy,” Breez said. “I have a great family, and I love them so much.”

Her mother agreed.

“She was so happy to be there that she was literally skipping around everywhere she went just before going on stage,” Kristen said. “My prayer for her was for everyone to see her sweet heart. She’s got such a kind, sweet heart. We are so thankful for everything she’s done up to this point — even if this is as far as she goes in the competition.”

Breez has other plans, though.

“There are so many amazing contestants, but you just never know,” she said.

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