Before 1978, dancers didn’t have a stage to perform on, the opportunity to learn from peers, or a competitive outlet like most sports. Debbie Roberts recognized this missing piece in the dance community and that is how America’s first and longest-running dance competition, Showstopper, was born. Debbie taught dance for over 26 years and owned and operated her own dance studio for 20 years. She is now the owner and National Director of Showstopper, alongside her husband, Dave Roberts. Dancer, teacher, business owner, author, and mother, Debbie has made dance her life’s career.
Debbie got the idea to host the nation’s first dance competition from watching her son, Adam, play competitive sports for years. Seeing the excitement he got for a big game inspired her to create the same for dancers. With the name suggestion from her dancing, 8-year-old daughter Angel, Debbie took her savings and booked four competitions for Showstopper’s first year. She wrote letters and knocked on the doors of local dance studios. Despite many doors slammed in her face, Debbie did not give up. Eventually, she recruited about 400 people to attend her first show. By the fourth show of that year, people were asking her how they could participate in Showstopper’s competitions. In no time, local televisions and newspapers were filled with pictures of children leaping across the Showstopper stage.
Debbie’s impact on the dance community continued. In 1984, Debbie graced the cover of Dance Teacher Magazine. In 1986, she topped Glamour Magazine’s list of Outstanding Young Working Women. In 1992, Debbie published her first of three dance-related books. Her first book, The Super Studio: The Guide to a Successful Dance Studio, earned major credit at many colleges throughout the United States.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SHOWSTOPPER
She realizes that dancers need a place to do what they love while receiving feedback for how they can be their best. Debbie knocks on every studio’s door in Charlotte, North Carolina, sharing her idea for a challenging, yet celebratory competition for local dancers. This is how the competition you know as “Showstopper” begins.