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Laya, Oviya Gowder dance away in Reflections state honors

MADISON – Talent obviously runs in the family for sisters Laya Gowder and Oviya Gowder.

In state-level competition with PTA Reflections fine arts contest, Laya Gowder won first place in the primary section and advanced to the national contest. Oviya Gowder earned third place in the state meet.

Students at Heritage Elementary School, Oviya is in fourth grade and Laya is a first-grader.

In 2016, Laya won first place in choreography in the city level but did not place in state-level dancing. “I decided to participate this year, too,” Laya said. “This year, I won first place for choreography and second for visual arts in city level. I felt very happy when I won first in state this time and moved to national.”

Oviya loves to dance and is in pre-honors level with The Dance Company. “Last year, I won the talent show in our school for dance and also took the ‘Overall Best’ award,” Oviya said. “Every year, my father avoided the school’s father-daughter dance. This year, I compelled him to dance with me, and we both were so happy to see the results.”

The 2017 Reflections theme was “What’s Your Story.” “When they announced in school, the same week we watched ‘The Sound of Music,’ and I loved it. I decided to dance a ballet routine for ‘My Favorite Things.’”

For her performance, Oviya danced “an Indian Bollywood, mixed-Western style and part salsa. I learned the steps through YouTube. As my dad knows some dancing, it was easy to sync. The difficult part was salsa but I enjoyed it.”

The sisters study ballet at The Dance Company and Indian classical dance from a private instructor.

“We would like to thank all our school teachers, Heritage PTA, The Dance Company and our parents for supporting us in everything we do,” Laya and Oviya said. 

The sisters attended the state awards ceremony at Montgomery’s Capital Club. “It was amazing to see so many state talents in one place. We were so happy to meet friends from Madison City Schools there,” Oviya said.

Laya and Oviya are members of Madison City Chess League. Laya won the top award for Accelerated Reading in her class. Oviya won a chess scholarship last year and a bronze medal at Mathapalooza.

Their parents are Arun and Shanthini. He is a senior system design engineer at Adtran. She works at Polyplex.

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