An evocative shadow dance performance paying tribute to those who died Dec. 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School lifted the Catapult Entertainment dance troupe into the semifinals of NBC-TV's "America's Got Talent" competition Tuesday, Aug.20.

Online voting started right after Catapult's performance to determine the show's semifinalists.

Catapult was created in 2008 and is directed by Adam Battelstein of Kent.

Among its dancers is former New Milford resident Rebecca Moore, an instructor at FineLine Theatre Arts in New Milford.

Performing to Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole's rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," Catapult used silhouette images to portray the circle of life, along the way offering an inspirational tribute to those who died in Newtown.

Judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel were unanimous in their assessment the performance was the best of the 12 offered Tuesday, Aug. 20 on stage at Radio Citry Music Hall in New York City.

Catapult and their fellow semifinalists will compete now for the grand prize of $1 million.

Closing out the night was the Catapult Entertainment dance group. Dancing entirely with their shadows, this group stole the show with their poignant and visually stunning performance dedicated to the Newtown families. From a castle to a bicycle to an entire journey of life, this group's talent is truly unparalleled. All of the judges and the audience were on their feet in praise of Catapult. Heidi fittingly said it was the "best act of the night." Howie loved the fact that they were the final act of the night and even declared, "I promise you that there isn't anyone who has performed on this stage that could follow you." Wow, that's a strong statement. However, we kind of agree. After tonight, Catapult has made themselves unforgettable in this competition.

`America's Got Talent': Newtown Tragedy Inspires Catapult's Inspirational Shadow Routine

The final group of the night on "America's Got Talent" paid tribute to the families of the Newtown tragedy. Catapult Entertainment is a silhouette performance troupe from Connecticut. They choreographed their routine to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," creating visuals of inspiration, love, family and joy. In the end, they stole the show and earned a standing ovation. Will it be enough to give them a spot in the semi-finals?

`Somehwere Over The Rainbow"

A teacher at FineLine Theater Arts in New Milford will perform Aug. 20 live on NBC TV's "America's Got Talent."

Rebecca Moore will perform at Radio City Music Hall with Catapult, a shadow dancing company directed by Adam Battlestein, of Kent, on the popular TV show that airs locally at 9 p.m.

The talent show features singers, dancers, comedians, magicians and other performers of all ages who compete for the top prize of $1 million and a show as the headliner on the Las Vegas Strip.

Catapult auditioned in New York and was sent through to Las Vegas for the next round of competition.

In Vegas, they were again voted through to the live rounds at Radio City Music Hall.

"It was really fun and exciting performing in front of the judges and the live audience in New York City," said Moore, a former New Milford resident.

"We received a standing ovation and the entire audience was chanting `Vegas, Vegas, Vegas!,' " she said.

Performers audition in front of four celebrity judges -- Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Melanie Brown and Heidi Klum -- who choose to keep or terminate an act's performance by pressing a buzzer.

Moore said, "The feedback from the judges was incredible.

"Well, Howard Stern didn't say much," Moore said. "Instead, he decided to bow down to us. I never imagined myself competing on a national TV show, but it felt so amazing."

She admitted being on stage in front of such a large audience can be overwhelming.

"I got emotional and teary-eyed on stage. In Vegas, we were passed straight through to the live rounds at Radio City Music Hall," Moore related.

The results of the Aug. 20 show will air the following night, Aug. 21 at 9 p.m.

In 2008, Battlestein created Catapult, a group of dancers who "have the skills to transform their bodies into seemingly impossible images," according to their description on the "America's Got Talent" website.

"Catapult has made films for corporations and performed live for corporate events around the U.S. and as far away as Stockholm, Sweden," the description relates.

To view a video of the dance company from the show's season premiere, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mSi5S_Ji2Y.

-- Deborah Rose