Gianna Newborg has always sparkled in the spotlight.
She took her first dance class at the toddling age of two and quickly fell in love with the art. At four, the Pennsylvania resident began traveling to South Brunswick to train at Dance on Q.
From the beginning, Dance on Q owner and artistic director Maria Quezada knew Newborg would go far.
"She is just one of those kids that even at a young age, took command of the stage and the audience could not take their eyes off her," said Quezada. "When she began training with me, I knew Gianna was a force to be reckoned with."
Now 13, Newborg loves "everything" about dance, but is particularly fond of showing the crowd what she's made of.
"I like performing," she said, adding that her favorite dance styles are jazz and lyrical. "I also like how I can express myself through dance."
A huge fan of the first season of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition, Newborg begged her mother, Cindy Pasanante, to apply. Her mother agreed, and was surprised when they received an email that the show was interested. Round by round, the judges chose Newborg and all of a sudden, she and Pasanante were packing their bags to fly out to Los Angeles for the competition.
"It's pretty incredible she even got picked," Pasanante said. "This has been Gianna's dream since she was little, so just to have the opportunity among 1,000 applicants is amazing."
The show pits 11 of America's most promising young dancers against one another, requiring them to learn and perform new dances in short periods of time. Of course, all of the 'dance moms' are present to add an extra splash of drama to the high stakes competition. The grand prize? $100,000 and a full scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City.
"Everybody wants their kid to win; everybody thinks there kid is the best," said Pasanante. "The whole thing was stressful and it was emotional. It was just crazy."
Newborg described the experience as "awesome" and "exciting," but also noted that it was educational for her.
"I learned to deal with a lot of pressure, how to work with different choreographers and work with kids from different places," she said.
She worked with highly regarded choreographers like Tessandra Chavez, known for her work on "So You Think You Can Dance" and Anthony Burrell, known for his work on "Dance Moms." She also got to perform on a professional stage, which is a big change from competitions in stadiums and auditoriums.
So, does Newborg clinch the cash and the scholarship? You'll have to tune in to find out. The season premiers on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 9 p.m. on Lifetime. Newborg will be watching from Dance on Q surrounded by her teammates and the school's other dance moms.
"The school and the competition team has supported us so much," Pasanante said.
Stay in the competition loop through social media: Dance on Q Facebook: Facebook.com/danceonq Twitter: @danceonqInstagram: @danceonq Youtube: youtube.com/danceonqtv