Local dancer about to go prime time
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – “Entertainment is just one big hustle,” smiles local tap dancer and teacher Mark Lengyel as he talks about his career. “But I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
The 34-year-old resident has been tap dancing since he was 5, and since his graduation from Merrillville High School in Indiana in 1996, he has performed in every state across the U.S., and also in countries all over the world. He now teaches at Jordin’s Dance Studio in Cornelius.
However, despite his impressive résumé of past performances with organizations like Disney, Universal studios, and the Harlem Globetrotters, the Cornelius tap-dancing teacher is lacing up for what he said could be the most meaningful audition of his career.
On Nov. 13, Lengyel and his group, High Voltage Street Beatz will meet in Tampa, Fla., to audition for NBC’s television show “America’s Got Talent” after receiving a private invitation from the show’s producers.
“America’s Got Talent” offers the winner $1 million and a headliner show on the Las Vegas strip.
Based out of Orlando, Fla., Street Beatz is a tap dance and drum group composed of three tap-dancers and two drummers.
Lengyel said he had been trying to get a group like Street Beatz together for years but the opportunity never presented itself, until last year. Lengyel held open auditions in the Orlando area, tacking up flyers and posting ads on websites like Craigslist.com, hoping talented dancers and drummers might sign up.
The ads worked and garnered the attention of two young drummers and two dancers, including Erik “Silky” Moore, who had previously been featured on the show “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Backed by some of the best talent in the Orlando area, Lengyel and Street Beatz soon landed gigs like dancing for the halftime show at Orlando Magic basketball games and giving performances at theme parks in the Orlando area.
Not long after, YouTube videos posted online by those who happened upon Street Beatz performances began attracting attention from across the nation. Momentum was building, but the group hit a roadblock when Lengyel, his wife Elizabeth and his 10-year-old daughter moved to North Carolina.
However, not before producers with the show “America’s Got Talent” took notice and invited the group down to Tampa, Fla., for an audition.
Hoping to keep their performances sharp, members of Street Beatz have taken to recording themselves on digital cameras and emailing them back and forth to learn new moves, Lengyel said. While it isn’t as easy as learning the moves together in a dance studio, it still helps them continue improving.
When he’s not impressing spectators with Street Beats, Lengyel works at Discovery Place Kids in Huntersville, and also teaches tap-dancing.
Lengyel said he loves dancing and working with children, so it’s a perfect fit.
Parents of dancers at Jordin’s Dance Studio said they hope Lengyel’s success doesn’t take him away from the Lake Norman area.
“He’s absolutely phenomenal with the kids,” says Amy Burger, whose daughter takes tap lessons from Lengyel. “His enthusiasm is unbelievable. I’d hate to lose him.”
The owner of Jordin’s Dance Studio, Melissa Donahue, said Lengyel has works great with his students.
“He has an immediate connection with children,” Donahue said. “And I think the parents are just as thrilled as the kids knowing he is their teacher.”
As for his upcoming audition, Lengyel said he isn’t as concerned about winning as he is about getting noticed. Even those who progress deep into the show are offered contracts in Las Vegas, which is one of his career goals, he said.
“Sure it would be amazing to win $1 million dollars,” Lengyel said. “But it’s great to have a chance to get my face on TV.”