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Dance Company Member Wows Italy in Talent Show

Lauren Celentano’s talent impresses judging panel

Photo by Sal Pavia Photography

Sacred Heart University sophomore Lauren Celentano of Cheshire danced through November and most of December as the first American ever to participate in the Italian televised talent show, Amici.

Celentano, who is a member of SHU’s Dance Company, recently returned to the U.S. to spend the holidays with her family, but she will return to Italy in January to continue training and filming for the show.

Amici (Italian for “friends”) was created in 2001 and airs annually from November to June in Italy. It is similar to America’s Got TalentSo You Think You Can Dance? and American Idol in the U.S., in that judges critique all the performances, but contestants stay or go based on public voting.

The whole SHU Dance community is cheering for Celentano. “I feel so very proud to have had the opportunity to help Lauren achieve her professional dreams and at the same time, bring SHU dance programs to a place of international recognition” said Kari Williams, SHU Dance Program director.

The opportunity to be on Amici came about in July when Williams took 12 Dance program members to the World Dance Movement, an International Dance Workshop and Competition in Bari, Italy, that allows dancers to train with the foremost recognized dance educators in the world and compete for cash and scholarships.

Casting directors from Amici were present at the workshop, scouting for talent. Through a connection Williams had, she was able to recommend Celentano to the directors. Celentano, 19, had two auditions with the directors, and “They loved her from the moment they saw her dance,” said Williams.

The directors told Williams they wanted to cast Celentano on the show, and they had to know by the next morning if Celentano could commit to perform. Williams said she gathered all the information she could from the directors and discussed the opportunity with Celentano and her parents. “If Lauren said yes, it was going to be a seven-month commitment if she didn’t get eliminated—she could be eliminated at any time. There would be training and classes…She was in total shock. I told her ‘If you don’t say yes, this opportunity goes away. I knew that it was something major and that it could launch her professional career but also that it was solely her decision to make,” Williams said.

Celentano said yes and, upon returning to Connecticut with her fellow dancers that July, she started learning Italian. She attended SHU for the fall semester until she left for Italy in November to begin her new dance experience.

“Lauren is quickly become a household name in Italy,” said Williams, who is not able to talk to Celentano much, but does keep in touch with her mother for updates. “People have started fan pages for her on Facebook and Instagram yet she remains humble and continues to work hard every single week to keep her spot. She is currently #1 in the voter rankings for the dance category and #4 in the show. She has a very real chance of winning!”

You can vote for Celentano up to 50 times per day when the prompt VOTA IL TUO PREFERITO is visible.

To view her Amici profile page and performance videos, visit

Additional videos:
First performance on Amici
Dance tutorial with Amici judge Bill Goodson:

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Lauren Celentano

Photo courtesy of Amici