Faculty Spotlight: Kyle Shukis

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Convention season is in full swing, and we couldn’t be more excited! Our dancers and staff are in it to win this year. We had the chance to speak with one of our great faculty members, Kyle Shukis, about why he loves to teach at Convention – and what he hopes you’ll learn this year. Read on to learn more about Kyle!

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Q: What are you most looking forward to about Convention this year?

A: I am always excited to work with a bunch of new dancers but also look forward to the students who return each year.  Getting to see their growth over time is so rewarding!

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to the dancers coming to Convention, what would it be?

A: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.  So many dancers get used to the same teachers and styles and let that box them in.  Conventions are a great place to challenge yourself in new ways and you can grow so much as a dancer in just one day!

Q: How long have you been teaching dance?

A: I started teaching dance as an assistant when I was only fifteen and haven’t stopped since!

Q: What kind of dance classes do you enjoy teaching the most? Which ones will you be teaching at Convention?

A: I love teaching classes that push your thought process as well as your technique – improvisation, choreography, movement studies etc.  I will be teaching both contemporary and jazz at the convention and love those, as well!

Q: You have a lot of experience in many areas of the dance world – which part of this industry is your favorite?

A: I used to do a lot of work on the side as a lighting designer in NYC – it was a great way to supplement my income as well as have a flexible schedule.  It’s amazing how much lighting can change and influence a piece of work and you truly feel as though you are a part of what is happening on stage.

Q: What do you think the biggest challenge is for young dancers today, and how can they overcome it?

A: I honestly think that much as the way magazines can cause people to have image problems, social media and what is posted dance wise often has the same effect on young dancers.  Most of what people post and share are things that are “perfect” and when inundated with these videos and images it causes young dancers to think they aren’t good enough.  Always remember that people are only going to post their best, and no matter how amazing a dancer is, they have both fallen and failed at something – you just aren’t there to see it.  Use these posts for inspiration, but don’t let it dictate what you feel like you need to be as a dancer.

Q: You have been involved quite a few productions – which one is your favorite?

A: I was in an all-dance production of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.”  I got to play Edmund and it was so fun to have to portray a child while also performing challenging movement.

Q: There’s always that one move or combination that gives you a hard time. Is there any specific dance move that has been difficult for you? If so, how did you get better at it?

A: I always struggled with flexibility as a younger competition dancer.  Learning how to stay warm and stretch properly and for the right amount of time helped increase my range by a huge amount.

Q: What is your favorite dance memory?

A: I have so many! One of my favorites was getting to work an extended residency in the Cayman Islands where we taught residents in the community about dance.  Everyone was so welcoming and so open minded and excited to learn new things.  We also got to perform on an open air stage outside where chickens would wander into the wings – it was so cool!

Q: Who are your favorite people to follow on social media (dance related or not!)? 

A: I love Michelle Obama on social media – she is so inspirational as a person and does so much good work around the world.  She has a snapchat that really lets you in to see how much she does each day and she is always full of positivity.

Q: Are you on social media? Our dancers would love to follow you!

A: Yes! My Instagram is kyleasaurusrex.

 

We can’t wait to see you at our next Convention stop, Kyle! Dancers, check back here to learn more about our amazing faculty and what’s in store for you this season! Are you coming to convention? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

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Back to School 101: How to Choreograph Your Classes

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School is back, and that means one thing: Lots of scheduling. Between school, homework, and dance class, it can be hard to figure out how to manage your time. But don’t worry – we have some ideas for you.

1) When in doubt, write it out.

You might think you can memorize your entire schedule in your head – and maybe you can! But you don’t have to. Find a way to write down your schedule so you can glance at it quickly when you need it. Many people use their phones or email for reminders. You can also use a good, old-fashioned day planner. Write down all of your commitments – maybe even color-code them! You’ll be surprised at how quickly you gain control over your hectic schedule.

2) Education over extracurriculars.

You won’t find bigger fans of dance than us. But during the school year, it’s important to prioritize your schoolwork over any extracurricular activities so you don’t fall behind. Dancing is hard work and requires a lot of practice and commitment – but so do your classes. Take the time to finish your homework and give your education the attention it deserves.

3) Veg with the veggies.

 Dancers already know the value of eating well. But this becomes especially important during the school year. The right foods will make you healthier, which will allow you to think more clearly and have the energy you need to handle school and dance. We’re not saying you can’t enjoy a little ice cream once in a while – but keep everything in moderation. Find a buddy to commit to eating healthy with you and keep each other accountable during the year and at dance class.

What do you think? How do you stay organized during the school year? Tell us below!

Year in Review: Platinum National Dance Competition Celebrates 10th Anniversary Season

Competition season might be over, but we have so many great memories from our 10th season that it’s hard to choose a favorite. Dozens of cities, hundreds of performances, and thousands of fans made our 2016 season one for the books.

Let’s take a moment to remember what made this year one of our favorites.

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1) We hosted our first Ultimate Invitational Championship! Dancers from around the country were invited to participate in this exclusive competition. We saw some amazing talent this year and can’t wait to see what next year brings!

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2) Our annual Ultimate Viewers Choice competition was a success! We had dozens of great routines to choose from, but “Glam” from Scenic City Dance showed us what it really means to be the best. Congratulations again!

3) Last, but not least, we want to remember the hundreds of people who worked to make this season so unforgettable. Coaches, teachers, parents, dance staff, costume designers, set designers, family members – we couldn’t do this without you.

Thank you for your continued support!

So what can you look forward to next?

  • A new season! Our 2017 schedule is posted on our website, and we think you’ll love it. We’re heading to 30 cities across the country to watch the best of the best perform fresh routines, and we can’t wait to see what routines our dancers come up with next year.
  • Convention is almost here! You won’t have to wait until next year to dance with us again – join us at Convention in October! You’ll have an opportunity to learn new moves, make new friends, and prepare yourself for the upcoming season.

Check out the whole schedule on our website, and learn even more details about Convention here. Will we see you at one of our stops?

And now we want to hear from you: What will you do to pass the time until we meet again? Are you focusing on a new routine this summer? Or are you taking the time off to relax? We came up with some great ideas to make this summer a great one – take a peek at some of our other posts here, here, and here. Tell us what you’re up to on Facebook or Twitter!

 

2016 Convention: 4 Things You Need To Know

Competition is over, but Convention is coming up! And we have the inside scoop on what you need to know.

1. Convention helps dancers stay sharp in the off-season.
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You have a couple months until your next competition, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a new skill in the meantime. Convention gives you the opportunity to expand your routine repertoire with jazz, tap, hip-hop, and several other dances. Bonus: You get the chance to meet other dancers and make new friendships and connections.

Learn more about the different classes and auditions here.

 

2. Convention lets you interact with some of the industry’s top talent.  

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You won’t want to miss out on the chance to meet up with some of the teachers who are attending Convention. This gives you a unique opportunity to work with some of the finest dance instructors in the country – and an opportunity to have them help you improve your dance skills.  Learning from the best means you can become the best, too.

Take a look at some of last year’s faculty members here, and check back to see who will be teaching in your area!

 

3. Convention is coming to a city near you.

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Worried that going to Convention will take too much travel time? Odds are good that we’re coming to you instead. We’re hitting cities all over the Eastern half of the nation – see the current schedule here.

We’re invested in making sure that as many dancers as possible get the opportunity to learn from our instructors and classes, and we are traveling to each of these locations to make that happen.

 

4. You could attend Convention for free!

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Raise your hand if you love to win free stuff! We have a prize that is right up your alley – FREE tuition to Convention! We are selecting 10 winners over the next few weeks to receive a paid Convention tuition just by liking or commenting our Facebook post. Like us on Facebook to learn how you can enter.

What do you think? Why are you excited to attend Convention? Tell us in the comments below – or sound off on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram.

Break it Down On Your Break: 3 Dance Moves to Learn Before the Next Competition Season

Competition season will wrap up next month, and we’ll be sorry to see it go! Fortunately, we’ve thought of a few great ways to pass the time until competition is back in action.

Last June, we discussed a few great ideas to make the most of your time off – including learning a few new moves. So which dances should you start with first? We’ve come up with three great options that will round out your competition resume.

 

1. Hip-Hop. 

Put a little pep in your step with these hip-hop dance moves. Adding an extra beat to your lineup for the next competition season will show off your versatility and make a memorable performance for you and your team. This YouTube tutorial breaks down some easy steps that are perfect for beginners. Once you’ve mastered these, find an intermediate tutorial and work your way up!

 

2. Focus On One Move

Are you struggling to perfect a particular move? Take some time to really focus on finessing your technique. For instance, you can look up videos like this one to improve your pirouettes, turns, tilts, and more – the possibilities are endless. This is a great way to add the finishing touch to an already incredible routine. If you feel confident in your skills for each of your moves, try searching for variations on them to make your routine stand out.

 

3. Learn A Dance Routine to a Popular Song

Find even more inspiration for new moves by learning the routine to a popular song, like this video that breaks down the routine to Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.”  While you may not be able to use the routine for competition, you can get some terrific ideas for creating your own routine and stay in the habit of learning moves from a teacher. Not to mention that learning a popular dance routine is a lot of fun! You’ve worked hard this season, so make sure you enjoy yourself over the break.

 

What do you think? Is there a new dance move you’re just dying to learn? We want to hear about it! Share with us below, or on Facebook and Twitter.

 

What’s In Your Dance Bag? A Dancer’s Guide to Competition Survival

Every dancer knows that the dance bag is one of the most important things to keep organized during competition season. You travel a lot, have limited time to get ready for your next routine, and must be prepared to pin back a stray lock of hair to keep that ballerina bun up to code. Your dance bag holds everything you need for competitions, and you need to keep it well-stocked.

Everyone’s bag will be a little different, but let’s look at a few must-haves when it comes to your dance supplies. 

 

1) Dance Shoes

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you must remember to pack all the shoes you will need! Jazz, tap, ballet – forgetting even one could be disastrous. Make a checklist of all the shoes you will use for your performances and mark them off as you pack them in your bag. While you’re at it, throw some extra tights in there – you can never have too many pairs.

 

2) Make Up Bag and Hair Accessories

Have you ever noticed that your hair or makeup tends to need attention moments before you perform? You need to be able to touch up your look quickly and easily. Organize your make up, hair pins, brush, hair ties, jewelry, and any other accessories you need inside your bag so you can grab them quickly when you need a fresh swipe of mascara.

 

3) Toiletries

Nothing is worse than looking around for the source of a bad smell, only to realize the smell is coming from you. Dancing is hard work, and you’ll break a sweat and then some before you’re halfway done for the day. Add some deodorant, perfume, towels, and anti-bacterial soap to your bag before you leave for your next competition.

 

4) Snacks and Water

You never know when you might need to raise your blood sugar or rehydrate during a competition. Keep a variety of healthy snacks, like protein bars, nuts, or fruit inside your bag so you can have a small snack anytime you need it. We highlight some of our favorite snacks and recipes here.

Don’t forget the water bottles, too. Staying hydrated is crucial for a dancer, especially during a competition.

 

5) First Aid Supplies

An unexpected scrape can happen anytime, so throw a few Band Aids in your bag, along with some antibiotic ointment and some antiseptic wipes. You can pick up a basic First Aid kit in your grocery store and add it to your bag before you leave so it will be right on top. If you take any medications, be sure you include those as well. Once the competition starts, you may not have a chance to leave, so you want to have everything you need available immediately.

 

Sound off: What else goes in your bag, dancers? Are there a few essentials that we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments, or give us a shout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Three Things Every Dancer Needs to Know to Become (and Stay) Flexible

Competition season is well under way – but it’s not over yet! You want to give your very best from the first competition to the last, and that means staying focused and in-shape for the entire season. Therefore, so many skills need to be honed and maintained – like your flexibility.

If you need some fresh ideas on how to become more flexible and stay that way, check out these three tips below

1. A little yoga can go a long way.

When it comes to flexibility and stretching your muscles, yoga is one of the most useful activities. It is designed to strengthen your body through building muscles and endurance, two key components of a dancer’s exercise routine.

By incorporating yoga into your regular workout, you will find new ways to build and stretch your muscles that will be invaluable to your dance career. Bonus: Yoga has been shown to reduce stress and improve your overall health.

Check out some of these great stretches on Pinterest.

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2. Start small.

If you are a beginner to the world of stretching and increasing flexibility without the help of a coach or teacher, don’t do too much too quickly. Start with a small goal for yourself – like some of these beginner-level stretches.

Every day, try to do a little bit more. If you were able to stretch for twenty minutes you first, day, try stretching for twenty-one minutes the next day. Slowly and gradually build up your endurance until you are able to maximize your flexibility and improve your jumps, lifts, and turns.

3. Listen to your body.

It’s tempting to see how far you can push yourself when learning a new skill, and stretching is no exception. But while you do want to do your best, you don’t have to start by being the best.

Pay attention to the clues and signs your body is giving you that tell you to stop or slow down. Being the most flexible dancer in your company won’t do you any good if you are injured and unable to dance. Even the Rockettes recommend taking a break now and then.

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It should always be your goal to improve and make a little more progress than the day before – as long as you do it in a safe, smart way.

How about it, dancers? What are some other things that help you stay flexible during the competition season (and the rest of the year, too)? Share your tips with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Dance Inspiration for Every Genre

As you prep for the bustle of competition season, we have an inside look at some of our favorite sources of dance inspiration!
Below, we list some of our favorites from across various dance genres. [Tip: Follow choreographers from different genres – and see how can you mix some of those moves in with your style!]

 

HipHop: Taylor Hatala 

This girl is 11, touring with Janet Jackson, and has 307k Instagram followers. Be inspired!

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Ballet: Marot Badr

We could watch her insta-vids for hours. So pretty!

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Acro-gymnastics: 

 

Baton: Emily Tutnick

We’re lucky for a behind-the-scenes look at this girl who’s always trying out new tricks.

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Character: 

We’re loving this video – and the rabbit hole that ensues.

 

Clogging: 

This clogging duo is incredible!

 

Contemporary: JDanceAlot

Seriously feeling this guy’s rhythm…

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Drill team: 

We warn you: You WILL watch this performance more than once.

 

Folk/Ethnic: Ansambl LADO

This Croatian dance ensemble knows what’s up.

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Jazz: 

Hilarious, but also very well choreographed.

 

Lyrical: 

These performers are mesmerizing!

 

Modern: 

Lydia Phillips choreographs her own modern dance.

 

Musical Theatre: Musical Theatre Lovers

Fashion, news, moves – oh my! This link has everything you want to know about musical theatre.

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Tap: 

These tappers combine excellent taste in music with incredible talent – the result is worth watching!

Tis’ the season to eat healthy!

The 2016 dance season is approaching, but there are a couple of big events coming up sooner than that: the holidays are right around the corner! What does this have to do with the upcoming dance season, you might ask? You’ll want to eat healthy during the holidays in preparation for 2016! Here are 4 tips for you for healthy eating during the holidays:

 

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If your goal at parties and family events is to choose healthy eating, you can always start with water. A study by “shape.com” tells us that that if you drink two glasses of water before your meal you will naturally eat less. Water is a good way to start your meals because it reminds you to make healthier food choices when you are already full. Staying hydrated is just as important as healthy eating!

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/weight-loss/how-drinking-water-helps-weight-loss.html

 

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One of the worst things you could do at a holiday party or family gathering is to attend on an empty stomach. If you come hungry, EVERYTHING is going to look appetizing. If you are trying to eat healthy this holiday season, make sure you come prepared. Have a small meal beforehand—try a banana, some yogurt, or peanut butter and crackers. When the food comes out, you already have something in your stomach. If you arrive hungry, it could lead to poor food choices and a loss of control.

https://www.sharecare.com/health/holiday-health/how-avoid-overeating-holiday-parties

 

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Everyone wants to find ways to be creative, especially when it comes to food. Why not experience new foods and new recipes by preparing them yourself? You can find healthy new recipes on Pinterest, Google, or local cooking magazines. There are so many colorful, exciting recipes out there. You can even create your favorite dishes with healthier substitutes. If you find something you are excited about making, chances are other people will love it, too.

 

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At the beginning of holiday events, hosts usually have out the fun snacks and appetizers. However, the best—and most healthy—food might be right around the corner. When we say “the good stuff,” we mean the main dishes, the healthy options, and the fulfilling choices. This also lets you see all of the food choices before you decide. You can look at all of the options and then make the healthy decision.

 

 

We hope this helps you get better prepared for the Holidays! If you have any questions or comments, ask us on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or Instagram. Happy Holidays!

 

 

What would I tell you?

There are two types of people in the world: people that have been dancing for as long as they can remember, and those who are about to start dancing. As a long-term dancer, what do you wish you had been told when you aspired to be where you are now? If you could turn back time and tell yourself anything about dance and what it would take, what would that be? Check out the 5 things we have found that older dancers would like to tell up and coming dancers:

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 5.29.11 PMAs a dancer, you should never compare yourself to other dancers. We are all dancing and learning at our own pace. You cannot expect to pick up and be on the same page as someone that has been dancing his or her whole life. For some it may come easier than others, but do not get discouraged about it! In the beginning you will have all sorts of thoughts about your abilities. That is the beautiful part of the journey. Keep working hard and give it your all!

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You should always walk in to the studio with your head held high, ready to learn. Every dancer is learning at a different pace. Dance is all about confidence. Confidence is the belief that you can do whatever you put your mind to. People can tell if you are confident or not. If you walk out on that stage with confidence in yourself, your dance will reflect that confidence.

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Training is the most important aspect of dance, since practice DOES make perfect. If you are consistent in your practice and your training, you will continue to improve. There will be days where you do not feel like going to practice. You will want to be at the next high school football game or a friend’s birthday party. Commitment is key in being a successful dancer. You might not see the results right away, but every long term dancer can tell you that practice is what makes you the best. When training gets hard, do not quit!

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Dance is all about being you. You can be an introverted dancer or an extroverted dancer; however, the most important thing is that you are not shy about your dancing. You want to walk off that stage knowing you gave it your all. Surprisingly, being shy goes hand in hand with being confident in yourself. The higher level of confidence you have, the less shy you will be. Even if you are nervous before your first competition or recital, walk out there with positive intentions and act like you own the stage. Everyone will be thinking, “Wow! She just owned that stage!”

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You have to put yourself and your talents out there. If you do not take a chance and show people your abilities, they will never know they exist. You have already conquered the first step of putting yourself out there by starting the next season! Before you ever started dancing, you were the only person that knew you could dance. Now is your chance to bring your talents to the stage and show them off! Be willing to put yourself in the front row, ask questions, and show them what you’re made of.

As you can see, dance takes a lot of confidence, hard work, trust, encouragement, and belief in yourself. The best dancers out there did not take an easy road to get there. All dancers have moments where they felt like they had failed, messed up, or even wanted to give up. Committing to something and aspiring to be great at it is hard work. Be the best you can be and do the work to get to the top: THIS is what “I” would tell “you!”