Blog Archives

By Michelle Allison

Artistic Director/Instructor

Curtain Call Studio for Performing Arts

Curtain Call classes have been movin’ and shakin’ for eight weeks, and after our most recent” Show Week,” all of us teachers are really in the groove with our classes…but do you know what’s happening behind the scenes?

Every Saturday ensemble groupings of 80 dancers and parents arrive as early as 8:00am to learn choreography for our upcoming production of The Nutcracker.  All four of our studios are simultaneously buzzing with action.  Music is playing, dancers are dancing and props are being carried in and out during the course of the morning.  It is not unusual to see dancers continually checking the schedule board because there is something brand new being learned every hour and with strict time frames, everyone need to be in the right room at the right time!

With Casting Auditions in August, we have only three short months to put together what has become a memorable holiday tradition for our CC families.  Directing the production is never-ending process, according to Michelle Allison, “The choreographers constantly throw out new ideas throughout the dance season, and even during the summer I am already planning the details of each scene.”

This year four CC faculty will choreograph the show:  Michelle, Laurie Copeland, Sara Little and Katie (DeWitte) Riley.  We have only rehearsed four short weeks; but nearly every scene has already been taught, and by the end of October we will begin running the show scene-by-scene!  The dedication of the participants is significant, as many of them are required to remain at rehearsals until as late as 1:30 and 2:00pm.  We see how much they love it on their faces, when a new step is accomplished or a challenging skill is achieved.  Last week, Soldier Keira M. joyfully burst out right in the middle of practicing, “THIS is the best part of Saturdays!”

The Nutcracker will presented at 2:00pm and 6:00pm on Saturday, December 13, at Ben Davis High School.  Share this timeless tradition with your family and look for your dance friends in the cast.  Also noteworthy are the dance parents involved in the show.  You’ll see them dancing in the Act I party scene, as Godfather Drosselmeier, and as a surprise in The Kingdom of Sweets in Act II.  Many thanks to our dancing and non-dancing parents and relatives who volunteer to help make our show complete.

By Rebecca Lake

Livestrong Foundation

If you have kids, you may be wondering what is the best way to channel their seemingly boundless energy. While traditional team sports are a good way to get your kids physically active, they may not be right for younger children. Dance classes are a great alternative to team sports, and most studios offer lessons for children as young as two or three. Participating in dance classes can be beneficial for kids of all ages.

Dancing is a highly physical activity, and kids who take dance lessons regularly should expect to see a significant improvement in their overall physical health. According to Pro Dance Center, regular dance practice can increase your child’s flexibility, range of motion, physical strength and stamina. The repetitive movements involved in dance can improve muscle tone, correct poor posture, increase balance and coordination and improve overall cardiovascular health. Dancing is an aerobic form of exercise. For children who are overweight, it can potentially help them to lose weight and improve their eating habits.

In addition to being a physical activity, dancing is also a highly social activity. According to “FamilyTalk Magazine,” dance lessons can help children improve their social and communication skills, learn how to work as part of a team, develop a greater sense of trust and cooperation and make new friends. If your child is shy, enrolling her in dance can encourage her to reach out to other children her age and help to reduce her anxiety about new people or places. Dance can also help to alleviate fears related to performing in front of an audience.

Becoming a skilled dancer requires practice, discipline and focus, skills that can be useful in other areas of your child’s life. According to “FamilyTalk Magazine,” dance lessons can help to spark creativity in young children and help them to develop an appreciation for the arts. Students who regularly participate in dance lessons typically tend to perform better academically than their nonparticipating peers. “FamilyTalk Magazine” estimates that students who have a background in dance tend to achieve significantly higher SAT scores and do better in math and science competitions.

As children adjust to the movements and postures required in dance, they begin to get a better sense of their bodies. As they become more comfortable in their own skin, their confidence and self-esteem also improve. According to EduDance, dance lessons can encourage children to foster a more positive attitude and explore their own self-expression. This can be particularly beneficial for children who are physically or mentally impaired or those who are attempting to deal with significant emotional problems.

By Michelle Allison

Artistic Director/Instructor

Curtain Call Studio for Performing Arts

Just as the dust settled from the frenzy of Concert Week, another adventure was on the horizon: taking on the Big Apple Curtain Call style! For a full year I worked with a tour company to plan this whirlwind 3-day excursion that included everything both a tourist and a dancer could ever want to do in the great city of New York.

Accompanied by Miss Laurie, Miss Sara and myself, 52 dancers and parents flew in to the city (despite devastatingly long weather delays), visited Chinatown and Little Italy and proceeded to leap, tap, sweat and contract their way through a variety of 14 different classes at the infamous Broadway Dance Center.

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Day two had no shortage of craziness as we began our day with a private master class at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The dancers were instructed by a former member of the company in Horton Technique, and class was accompanied by a live percussionist. Next was a food truck lunch picnic in Central Park, a guided tour of the historic Radio City Music Hall, quick visits to Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, followed by dinner at the infamous Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Our day ended with us attending a highly energized performance of Newsies, and several dancers were able to get autographs from the (handsome!) cast after the show!

Our last day entailed sailing on the ferry to Liberty Island where we took pictures and read up on the history of the Statue of Liberty- a true American landmark. It was at times an emotional day, as we went from learning about the gift of the statue to viewing the 9/11 Memorial and remembering those who were taken from us. The eternity fountain pools, the named etched in black granite, the new Freedom Tower and the Survivor Tree were solemn and powerful images that will stay with us a lifetime.

To wrap up our evening, we ate WAY TOO MUCH food at John’s Pizzeria and saw the quirky and sometimes dark musical, Matilda. (We even got to applaud the nine-year-old lead actress when she snuck out of the side door of the theater!) And who could possibly forget our Megan acting as tour guide to lead us to the Empire State Building that night… “Watch the puddle! Wait 5 seconds! Up against the wall! 5-4-3-2-1 HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Despite zero visibility, no one can deny how fun it was to be on the viewing deck of the Empire State Building, blown literally sideways in the wind, screaming with laughter and looking out to white clouds of absolute nothingness!

Now that classes are resuming at Curtain Call, our trip to NYC seems a lifetime ago;  but I know the dancers and faculty are all holding those memories close to their hearts and are ready to build on the inspiration sparked by this trip of a lifetime!

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By Tammie Baker
Executive Director/Owner
Curtain Call Studio for Performing Arts

Dance classes for your child can have many benefits, including improved coordination, an opportunity to develop social skills, physical fitness and just plain fun.

There are many excellent dance studios but not all are a good fit for every dancer. Do you want a laid-back experience with emphasis on fun, or are you and your child interested in traveling the competition circuit? Answering that question before you begin your search will make the process of choosing a dance studio much easier.

According to the organization Dance Masters of America, here are the 10 points that every parent should consider before deciding on a dance school.

1. What type of floor should my child dance on?

Dance is a very physical activity that requires a lot of jumping, which can put stress on bones and joints. Most dance footwear does not provide any cushioning or support, so the shock of dance movement can place a lot of pressure on the knees and back of a dancer. A good way to prevent potential injury is by choosing a dance school with sprung or raised floors. Many dance floors are simply tiled or have a thin mat placed over concrete! Even the best flooring specifically made for dancing can not protect the bones when placed over a very hard surface. The actual dancing surface ideally should be a professional Marley dance surface to prevent falls and slips. Additionally, high ceilings for jumping, floor length wall mirrors, good ventilation, bright lighting and cleanliness should also be priorities in the dance room.

2. Will I be able to observe my child during class?

At many studios, parents are not allowed to view their children’s classes. You may often wonder how they did, what they learned, and most importantly how they are progressing. Look for a studio that offers observation windows for parent viewing at all times. No set dates for viewing your child’s class; you should be able to watch at any given time!

3. What is the size of the class?

If the dance class has fewer students in it, each child will receive more personalized attention, and teachers can make sure each student understands the concepts and instructions. Smaller class sizes also allow teachers to ensure that students are not developing bad habits or improper technique. Rather then crowd 20 or 30 students in a class, trying to make as much profit as possible, look for a studio that places limits on enrollment. On the other hand, when a class is too small, students are not sufficiently challenged by the interaction with peers. Ideally, classes should have at least four students.

4. What are the studio’s qualifications?

Nearly every dance school offers a Ballet program, Jazz dance, Hip-Hop and Tap but not all dance programs deliver a solid foundation in technique and artistry. Look for a studio whose instructors are Dance Education Specialists and are not purely concentrated on teaching tricks, giving stylized exercises or wowing judges. The teachers should be capable of increasing student understanding of dance terms, rhythm, performance, picking up and retaining choreography, auditioning skills, dance history and more.

The Dance Masters of America recommend the following curriculum:

Ages 3-5      A teacher for this age group should be knowledgeable about the physical, mental and emotional development of young children. Classes in dance for this age should encourage the young child’s natural ability for dance expression, develop his/her sense of body awareness and focus on the joy of participating in a variety of movement experiences.

Instruction in specific dance forms, such as ballet, tap and jazz should be directly related to the child’s physical development. Classes should have a maximum of no more than 12 children and last no longer than 45 minutes.

Ages 6-9      Children at this age are ready for a more formal approach to dance; an emphasis on increasing body awareness and acquiring dance skills. Classes should have a maximum of 12-16 children and last at least 45 minutes.

Ages 10+      Students starting dance at this age should focus on developing technique and performance skills broadening the student’s knowledge of proper movement mechanics, anatomy and dance appreciation. Classes should not have more than 16 children and last 45 minutes to one hour, with longer classes for the more advanced and serious students with several years of previous training.

After two years of dance instruction students with serious aspirations should be studying two or more days per week. They should also be encouraged to study a variety of dance forms.

5. What is the educational background of the teaching staff?

There are some excellent dancers who do not have a formal education, but the better teachers are usually those with a college degree. In a college or university, the student is trained to dance, but more importantly they are trained to teach. In addition, a formally educated dance teacher is a fine role model for students and can effectively foster a higher level of thinking through dance. College and university trained teachers also study the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Kinesiology classes provide knowledge in how the muscles work, guidelines for teaching proper alignment and injury prevention. You should also look for a studio that has continuing education for its staff, as learning should never stop with a great teacher.

6. Are the costumes, music and choreography age appropriate?

Many studios have no guidelines on these standards and children are exposed to inappropriate costumes, music, and choreography in their chosen classes. This is a MUST ASK question before you register at any dance school and don’t be afraid to ask to look as past recital photos if they’re not already posted. Don’t let a dance studio or teacher make your children grow up too fast!

7. What about customer service and parent communication?

In many studios, the teacher or the studio owner conducts classes as well as administrative duties. By trying to do two jobs at once, the class may suffer as the teacher has to use class time for customer service issues, or the studio may have no customer service available if the teacher is in a class. For parents to have a good experience, it is important to choose a studio that can assist you with details like makeup classes, costuming or schedules, even if a teacher is occupied in a class. Successful studios have office staff on hand during all regular class times so you can get immediate assistance.

8. How much are classes?

Remember, “you get what you pay for,” so don’t be on the search for the least expensive studio. A reputable studio will give you honest answers about all pricing up front with no surprises.

9. What are the “extra” expenses?

Of course, the proper apparel and shoes to meet the studio’s dress code will be required for classes, and sometimes an annual registration fee is charged to hold your spot in the class and cover insurance, mailings, etc. Most studios put on a year end show in a professional theater and may charge a nominal performance fee to cover the costs of the venue in addition to costume fees.

10. What about recitals?

The chance to perform should be a satisfying, informative experience for the child and their family. Three to four months before the show, a portion of the child’s dance class should be devoted to the preparation of this special event, however, the teacher should still be teaching technique, vocabulary and showmanship. Studios will normally order costumes from professional companies that match the artistic elements of the dance and usually require some sort of a deposit before the order is placed. While some studios allow student to wear just class leotards and skirts on stage, a beautiful costume helps dancers get into character and have the confidence and motivation to perform their best and make their parents proud.

While most dance studios will offer similar styles of classes, their business philosophy and culture will differ greatly. Remember, choosing a dance studio is a very personal decision. Do your homework, and you’ll find the studio that feels comfortable to you, makes your entire family feel welcome, and presents a positive image to you and your children. First and foremost, the studio you choose should be a safe place for your child to socialize, have fun and create lifetime memories. Good luck and keep dancing!