As a serious ballet dancer, Alexei Alcombright knows all about promenades and presages.But those aren’t the only lifts in which Alcombright has a level of expertise.The 14-year-old freshman at Central Cabarrus High School aspires to be a professional dancer one day. But over the past couple of years Alcombright has also turned into a champion powerlifter.As a member of Concord’s Platform Gym, which is co-owned by her mother, Alcombright has participated in several meets hosted by Iron Boy Powerlifting. The North Carolina-based sanctioning body reaches into more than a dozen other states.Alcombright’s next competition will be the 13th annual IBP Bench Press Classic and Strict Curl meet on Sept. 14, hosted by Platform Gym.Alcombright admitted she never had a great interest in participating in traditional sports. She played recreational sports – such as softball, basketball and soccer – as a young elementary school student, but they all gave way to dance at an early age.Jazz, contemporary and hip-hop were the styles Alcombright had practiced since she was 2 years old. She became a member of her dance studio’s competition teams, but that studio closed its doors a couple of years ago.The family was seeking a new studio for its dancer, but a discouraged Alcombright didn’t have much interest in going to the performance of “The Nutcracker” by Kannapolis’ Piedmont School of Music and Dance that her mother, Cindy, was forcing her to attend.But she was taken by the show’s pageantry. And she was hooked on ballet before the first sugar-plum fairy took the stage.“It made my heart tick,” she said.Alcombright’s introduction to powerlifting was not quite as cathartic. Still, the first IBP meet she attended – at Platform Gym in April 2012 – left an impression on her.A month later, Alcombright competed in her first IBP meet. Platform Gym co-owner Renee Lutz, also a competitive powerlifter, became Alcombright’s coach and inspiration.“I began training her, and she was so motivated,” said Lutz. “She is so dedicated. She comes to the gym when she has a spare moment – which is hard for her to do with her dance schedule – and works mostly on technique. “She’s so strong because of her legs,” Lutz said. “I was very surprised how well she could do.”Last October, Alcombright participated in the IBP Nationals, and some of her dance friends attended to cheer her on. As the only competitor in the female 12-13 age group’s 105-pound division, Alcombright squatted 85 pounds, bench-pressed 60 and dead-lifted 135, all of which are IBP national records.Alcombright was most pleased that she had increased her dead lift by 20 pounds since her previous meet. In April, she improved her squat and bench press by 5 pounds each.“I don’t really think about the championships and records,” said Alcombright. “I just like going to the competitions and lifting.”Her two pastimes have an interesting coexistence. Instead of powerlifting strengthening her legs for dance, Alcombright said, she thinks it works in the opposite way.She practices dance five days a week for three or four hours a day. That jumps to six or seven times a week when she’s practicing for “The Nutcracker.”That limits the amount of time Alcombright can spend in the gym. She said she lifts weights about two or three times a month, mostly to sharpen her technique.There have been times when powerlifting competitions and dance class have fallen on the same day. Alcombright has never let them conflict, always fitting both into her schedule.Next weekend’s competition will be her last for 2013. That will allow her to turn her attention fully to the upcoming auditions for this year’s “Nutcracker” production. Alcombright anticipates trying out for the part of Fritz, brother of the main character, Clara.Getting past the audition will be just another weight off her shoulders.
Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2013
Serious Concord ballerina, 14, is also a champion powerlifter
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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