Blog Archives

A nip of frost and the rosy fingers of dawn welcomed us as we embarked on a 15-hr day of dance, discovery and bonding:


Recently, seventeen members of the Sr. Performing Company participated in multiple dance classes at Lou Conte Dance Studio, the training facility for the prestigious modern dance company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The bustling windy city welcomed us with warm and inviting teachers who made our experience fun, educational and memorable.


The students divided into many levels and genre, including modern, ballet, tap, musical theatre and even African dance. The Nigerian instructor teaching the African dance class even payed his own accompaniment on a djembe drum! Senior Elsa Gaston took the class because African styles are among her favorite methods of movement, but this specifically Nigerian content was a first for her. It was extremely physical but his friendly and educational approach kept the class motivated for more.


Madisyn Challis exploded out of her tap class exclaiming, “That was the best class ever!” She and other dancers commented on the encouraging demeanor of their teacher and felt they had accomplished considerable growth during their class. I appreciated the communal approach by working primarily in a circle to allow individuals each an opportunity to attempt perfecting her sounds, and I know our teachers at Curtain Call often use this approach as well.


In the modern class, Megan Dugle noted how interactive her teacher was, “He kept running to the back and sides of the room, giving personal attention to every dancer. He was so engaging!” Much of their warm up and combo repeated to all four walls, and emphasized the internal focus of modern where often there is no “front” of the room, as in jazz (for example), in which it is primarily intended to “entertain, from a frontal perspective.”


Regarding jazz, nearly all the students participated in a jazz class at Lou Conte and I was pleased to observe the classic and pure form of jazz foundations presented: complicated weight change, unexpected direction change, and traditional stylization – all set to jazz music. The same teacher instructed the musical theatre class with a similar approach, infusing quite a bit of Fosse-esque isolations and style.


Sydney Androne’s favorite class was ballet. As I observed class through the window I had feelings of empathy and even a little concern for the students, as the barre exercises began and continued with very challenging patterns, stability development and strengthening exercises that had them all shaking with effort and dripping with sweat after only a about 10-15 minutes! When I asked Sydney more about the class, she brightly replied, “I loved it! The challenge was amazing and the teacher was very thorough and helpful in her instruction.”


Although the day was long and our dancers left Chicago exhausted and sore, they were ready for more and were immediately asking me, “When are we going back?” This relatively easy drive made taking continuing education classes accessible and I know we’ll be back to Lou Conte soon!


  • Miss Michelle

Dear Curtain Call Families,


It’s beginning to look a lot like Nutcracker Season! I couldn’t be more excited to say that we are a little over a week away from the opening of Curtain Call’s Production of the Nutcracker. CC Dancers and teachers have been hard at work since August making this Christmas classic come alive and we hope to see you there on Saturday December 8. More information on tickets and our coveted Sugar Plum Fairy Pass below! And for all you ballet enthusiasts who are just so excited for opening day, here is a little information and fun facts to hold you over!

With love and pointed toes,

Miss Sara



History of the Nutcracker


The Nutcracker is based off the children’s fairy tale story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by ETA Hoffman in 1816. Famous choreographer and composer duo Marius Petipa and Pyotr Tchaikovsky created The Nutcracker which debuted in St Petersburg Russia in 1819. It was considered a “flop” by most dance critics and was one of Petipa’s biggest failures in his career. The Nutcracker did not begin to gain popularity until the score was used in Disney’s Fantasia in 1940.

Tchaikovsky did not love the adaptation of the Russian story, and worried that it would never be as good as The Sleeping Beauty the last ballet he had adapted from a story that was a huge success. Petipa designed the dances based upon the characters in ETA Hoffman’s story and asked Tchaikovsky to write the music with very specific instructions.


Petipa designed the dances. He gave Tchaikovsky special directions about how the music was to be written. For example, he wanted a great crescendo of 48 bars as the Christmas Tree rose higher and higher in Act 1. He wrote that the music for the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy should sound like drops of water splashing in a fountain.


I doubt that either Petipa or Tchaikovsky had any idea the impact their ballet would have on the world over 200 years later! The Nutcracker has truly become a staple for professional companies and dance studios alike, as well as a huge holiday tradition for families everywhere.



Favorite Nutcracker Roles and Experiences from the CC Staff!


Miss Sara: My studio performed excerpts from Act 2 at local malls in St. Louis every year the day after Thanksgiving on Black Friday! I have been just about every role you could think of in Act 2, but my all-time favorite was the Spanish Soloist. I danced it as a duet with my best friend at the time my senior year of high school. I have always had an affinity for the fun and sassy roles, and love dancing with a fan. In college at Ball State University I was able to perform the full Sugar Plum Fairy Pas de Deux. It was one of my last big roles en pointe before I began to pursue modern dance professionally



Miss Michelle had the great honor of performing with the Cincinnati Ballet’s professional version of the Nutcracker when she was young. Some of her most memorable roles were a soldier doll and an angel in Act 2. This role was particularly special because she got to sing with a live orchestra.


Miss Madison has danced many roles throughout her time as a student at Curtain Call Dance Center, However her favorites were her time as Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy. On a personal note, I can say one of my favorite experiences choreographing for our version of the nutcracker was working with Madsion and a guest dancer in a Grand Pas de Deux.




Miss Rachel was the very first Sugar Plum Fairy for Curtain Call’s inaugural Nutcracker performance in 2006. She danced this role her senior year of high school. She says: “It was a much smaller production and I didn’t get to dance with a boy which I was always sad about. It was so fun to help start the tradition and see how much it has grown and what it has turned into today. These dancers amaze me!”


Please buy your tickets, supports these fabulous dancers and make new holiday memories!


Curtain Call Dance Center Proudly Presents: The Nutcracker

Saturday December 8 10am and 2pm

Pike Performing Arts Center

Tickets available at  $15 online and $18 at the door.




Sugar Plum Fairy Pass:

Parents, are you looking for an early Christmas experience for your young dancer or child? Do they have any family members or friends who would like the chance to meet real princesses?

The Sugar Plum Fairy Pass is your chance to make real live Christmas memories!

Your pass includes your only opportunity to meet Clara and Principle Dancers onstage. Your picture opportunity will be set behind the beautiful backdrops from the former Ballet Russe in Russia. Lastly you will be sent home with a swag bag filled with fun Nutcracker themed goodies.

Tickets are 10$ and only available through the front desk. No online sales.

Dear Curtain Call Families,

This month I am writing about something that is very close to our hearts at the studio: our Relay for Life team and our passion for raising money for cancer research. Last week you donned your best pink leotards, bows and socks and wore pink in support of this cause for our annual pink out week in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We appreciate your spirit and support! Read on for more information on how else to get involved, our history with the American Cancer Society and how we were inspired to give back to our community and loved ones.

Happy Reading!

With Love and Pointed Toes,

Miss Sara

Curtain Call Dance Center and the Relay for Life relationship 

Why do we relay?

At Curtain Call, our goal is to teach our dancers more than dance. We encourage them to be ambassadors to the community and to give back to others. Our relationship with Relay for Life and raising money for cancer research goes back to 2006.


Our inspiration:

Miss Andra is our Relay for Life Captain and the pulse behind our efforts for awareness.

Andra was diagnosed with breast cancer after serving as Team Captain for three years. She was diagnosed again in 2011 with colon cancer. In direct accordance to her positive demeanor she chooses to never ask “why?” but instead use her experiences with cancer as a tool to educate and bring awareness. She is a cancer survivor, advocate for mindfulness and one of the strongest and caring individuals one will ever meet. She is truly the spirit behind curtain call and our Relay for Life efforts.

Want to get in the Spirit too? Join our Relay for Life Team? See Miss Andra at our front desk and she would be happy to get you started and talk more with you about her journey for a cancer free world.





Our Curtain Call Relay for Life team has totaled over $75,799 since 2006. We have been the top fundraiser in Wayne Township and in Brownsburg starting last year in 2018.

Here is the breakdown of funds raised to support cancer research and the American Cancer Society:

  • 2013- 6749.00
  • 2014- 9294.00
  • 2015- 12160.00
  • 2016- 13779.00
  • 2017- 14541.00
  • 2018- 15286.00

It is a testament to our pride and spirit that every year our numbers rise exponentially. Our goal for 2019 is to raise $16,000!


Our biggest annual fundraiser is support of our relay for Life team is our Dance against Cancer Concert and Silent Auction

This year it will be held Saturday April 13 at 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm and Sunday April 14 at 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm

DAC is studio wide event with performances from our SR and JR performing Companies, as well as a delicious dessert bar and Silent Auction with all proceeds benefiting cancer research.

Want to get involved? We are now accepting donations for our Silent Auction! We have four shows to fill and need your help. Please consider donating items such as gift certificates to restaurants, museums, theatres, salons, spas or gyms as well as themed gift baskets and services!




Hello Curtain Call Family,

Thank you for joining me for my second blog entry. This article will tell you everything you need to know about pointe shoes. I think this will serve as an informative read for all: young students who one day dream to dance on their toes, current pre-pointe, intermediate pointe and advanced pointe students, and especially the families who fund and support their student’s pointe experiences.

Happy reading!

With love and pointed toes,

Miss Sara

P.S. If you have any more questions, please leave a comment and I will answer throughout the next few weeks!


Five Fun Facts about the History of Pointe Shoes


  1. Women haven’t always danced en pointe. In fact, when ballet originated in the French and Italian Courts of the 15th and 16th centuries, dancers were predominantly male. Women did not begin dancing until King Louis XIV of France established the first dance company and school called the Academie Royale De Danse. Even than women wore heavy skirts, rigid corsets and high heeled shoes. Most of the dancing was small, minimal and performed in the round of the royal courts. Women were not able to jump, turn or show of any foot work.


  1. A need for pointe shoes came about during the Romantic Era of Ballet. Choreographers were inspired by fairies, birds and mythical creatures. They wanted their dancers to appear light, ethereal and as if they were dancing on air. After the failure of the “flying machine”, invented in 1795 by Charles Didelot, dancers began experimenting with new types of soft shoes with hardened toes to lift themselves up to the tips of their toes.


  1. Marie Taglioni is one of the most famous dancers of the Romantic Era of Ballet and is credited with inspiring and wearing the first version of the pointe shoe. However, they were more reminiscent of a present day ballet slipper, with a leather sole and strong thread darned along the toe area to create a platform. Dancers could only hold a position en pointe for a few seconds each, but it was so revolutionary that audiences were thrilled. Marie Taglioni is most known for her role as a fairy in La Sylphide. She made ballet dancing so popular that it is rumored to say that people would buy her pointe shoes after shows, cook them and eat them!


  1. We can credit the birth of the pointe shoe with a stiffened box and ankle/arch support to Italian dancer Pierina Legani. She was the first dancer to ever do 32 fouettes en pointe, and she served as inspiration to Marius Petipa to include this difficult turn sequence in his famous grand pas de deuxs for ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and even the Nutcracker.


  1. Today’s professional dancers require a lot out of their pointe shoes to keep up with the demands of choreography. Some are even made of new and different materials- like Gaynor Minden Pointe shoe made of a special plastic that lasts longer than a normal pointe shoe. Many professional ballet dancers have pointe shoes made for their unique feet by their own personal maker. They can go through one pair of shoes a day and often have a shoe allowance built into their salary benefits.

Curious how pointe shoes are made today? What materials are used and how long  it takes to create a gorgeous pointe shoes? Here is an excellent video to watch.


The Curtain Call Way: Our Philosophy on Pointe Training

My number one goal for pointe education at Curtain Call is safety first! Dancers who are placed en pointe too early can sustain stunt in their growth, sprained ankles and toe injuries. Bones in our feet do not begin to harden until our teen years, and many times our growth plates are still shifting and forming. For this reason, I do not start dancers en pointe at any age below thirteen. However, not all dancers are ready to be en pointe just because they hit this age.


Method to my Madness- Personal Experience!

I was placed en pointe at age 12, at a studio that did not have qualified teachers or a preparatory pointe program. I developed late in life. I did not stop growing until I was 17 years old and I was not dancing at a studio with a ballet program until the end of middle school. I was by no means ready to be en pointe.

My teacher told me to go the dance store and be ready in a week to join an advanced class. My mom and I did just that. We had no idea what we were getting into. We had no idea how to sew the ribbons or elastics. My mom did her best and ended up pricking her fingers and bleeding on the pink satin. I walked into my first class without any toe pads, and with my ribbons tied in a bow at my ankles. I had no idea how to correctly rise to my toes and was embarrassed and upset.

In my classes I walk my students through everything they would need to know prior to getting their shoes so they do not feel the anxiety and stress that I did. During your pre- pointe education with me you will learn

  • The anatomy of a pointe shoe
  • Your foot shape and characteristics of your unique foot
  • What shoes would look best on you
  • Injury prevention and foot hygiene
  • How to sew and tie your ribbons
  • How to properly break them in and care for them

Dancers will begin my class on flat shoes with the focus of creating more ankle, leg and core strength to eventually support themselves in pointe shoes. Not all dancers get their shoes at the same time. Not all dancers get their shoes within the first year of class. This year I have created a Pre- Pointe Trainee Program that assists dancers who are not quite ready for pointe work this year, but gives them the opportunity to learn and develop more strength. This program can take up to  2-3 years.

When can I go en pointe?

Your teacher will let you know when you are ready to enroll in a pointe class. But in the mean time here are questions to ask yourself. Any answer of “no” means you still have some more things to work on before you can safely wear pointe shoes.

  • Can I pique passe onto a straight leg without bending at my knee?
  • Do I have awareness of proper ankle and foot alignment? Do I tend to sickle or roll in?
  • Can I balance on one foot with body correctly positioned over supporting leg?
  • Can I maintain a releve for an extended period of time? Can I repeat multiple releve at the barre without tiring easily?
  • Can I maintain my balance with my abs strong, my rib cage closed and without falling backwards?

Now imagine yourself doing all of these exercises with only the tips of your toes to support you. 😊

Final Thoughts

Please remember that as you grow older and further your ballet training that pointe work is a privilege and not a right of passage. Not everyone is right for pointe work. Also, please consider the cost, care and responsibility of owning and working on pointe shoes. These days prices for pointe shoes start at 85$-115$ dollars. I always encourage my dancers to set aside money from babysitting, chores or birthday gifts to help supplement their first pair of shoes.

I will leave you today with a quote from an article I use in my classes called “Pointe Readiness and What to Expect” by studio owner Nichelle M.

“As a student you should expect no less of a teacher than to instruct logically, carefully and thoughtfully. Make a commitment to respecting your instructor’s judgment and knowledge if she feels you are not ready yet for pointe work. A teacher willing to say no to you has likely put a lot of thought behind that decision. A teacher who tells everyone yes is not someone to trust.”

Dancers and Families,

Congratulations on completing your first full week back at dance classes! We are thrilled to have so many talented dancers and smiling faces back in the building and filling our studios with energy and enthusiasm. Between Nutcracker costume fittings and first rehearsals, PC Rehearsals, parent meetings and dancers here for their very first class it has been a whirlwind week. With over 185 students registered, it is sure to be a busy and rewarding year. We are so happy that you are part of it!

On behalf of all the teachers and staff at Curtain Call Dance Center, we welcome you back with open arms and hearts. We encourage you to make a new friend, take a chance and try a new dance style and work hard this year. Remember…

“The journey between who you once were, and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.” Barbara De Angelis

I will be posting throughout the year with some helpful hints, tricks of the trade, and informative articles to supplement your dance practice. Stay tuned in a few weeks for my next post! But first continue reading on for how to make this first month back to dance class the best one yet!

With love and pointed toes,

Miss Sara


8 Must Haves in Your Dance Bag- Survive Your First Month Back!

What’s in your dance bag may be the key to your dance success.

How many of these items do you already carry with you?


  1. Water Bottle

Whether they are being used for hydration or as a prop in your abdominal exercises (You are very welcome Adv. Ballet!) water is the #1 most important thing to carry with you. Don’t leave it in the dressing room, or forget it at home or in the car. CC Teachers give ample water breaks throughout class and you need yours present to take a quick sip and still remained present and focused for the lesson at hand. The harder you dance, the more sweat you produce and you need to replenish your body with plenty of fluids. Pack several water bottles with you, or invest in a larger jug or Nalgene bottle that can keep your water cold all day long.


  1. TheraBand

The TheraBand is my favorite teaching tool. I use it frequently in both my pointe and ballet classes and highly suggest every dancer have their own personal one in their dance bags. They can be purchased at Kinney Dancewear, many sporting stores, and online (I suggest TheraBands are crucial for resistance based stretching which can supplement your dance training by toning specific muscle groups. I love TheraBands because you can do your exercises almost anywhere- on breaks in the dressing room, at home, while watching TV or reading a book. Most exercises have small amount of repetition, and when completed 3-4 times a week dancers will see an immense improvement in their strength and flexibility.

My Favorite go to exercise- “ABC’s”

This exercise is great for improving ankles strength and one that I recommend be done as often as possible for dancers working towards pointe placement. Place your foot in your TheraBand long ways, so that your toes are covered. Place both ends of the band in your hands and gently pull tight. Begin by spelling out each letter of the alphabet with your toes. Be sure to work from the ankle joints only, and not move from the rotators in your hips. Repeat on the left side. For variety- spell out words on our spelling test at school this week or your vocabulary words from Spanish class.


  1. Your go to touch ups: Hairspray and Bobby pins

A must have for all dancers. Nothing is worse than starting class with a tight pony tail or ballet bun, only to have it fall out mid pique turn combination. It’s distracting and can really pull your focus. Be sure to have on hand extra bobby pins, hairspray, gel, hair rubber bands and a brush in your dance bag for quick fixes in between classes.


  1. Snacks

Long dance days require extra fuel for your body! In addition to your water bottle, your dance bag should contain easy on the go snacks for between classes, rehearsals or any long breaks you may have throughout the night. I highly suggest:

Almonds, cashews or any trail mix with dried fruit

Peanut butter and banana

Hummus and pretzels

Power bar or granola bar

Yogurt or string cheese

Fruit and veggies


  1. Notebook and Pen

Keep track of your corrections and choreography by keeping them organized and on hand at all times in a notebook in your dance bag. When I was a student it was one of the first things I did after class, and now as an adult I always have my notebook with me for formation and choreography ideas. Did you like a piece a music the teacher has played? Ask for the title, write it down and use it to practice at home.


  1. All of your dance shoes

Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop etc! I do not recommend only bringing the shoes you will need for the classes you are scheduled for that evening. You never know if you will need them, and it is always better to be prepared


  1. Pain relief for sore muscles

Advil, tennis ball for rolling out muscle knots, tiger balm, band aids ect. There are so many great pain relievers out there these days, including all natural products using essential oils such as the Deep Relief Roll On by Young Living Oils. Every dancer should carry with them their favorite pain relieving products so nothing can hold them back during class.

  1. Beat the summer sweat– deodorant, body wipes, extra tights and dancewear

Bonus tip- Don’t forget to throw your ballet shoes in the washing machine every 1-2 weeks. Wash cold, delicate cycle and let line dry over the weekend.


Keep rocking and be sure to get those dance bags stocked!

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.

new york one

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!

new york two

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!