Faculty Spotlight: Michael Deeb

blog-graphic-sept-001

We can’t get enough of #Convention! It’s been great to see our dancers, dance families, and especially our amazing staff! We had the chance to chat with Michael Deeb, one of our fabulous staff members, about why he loves Convention and what he hopes our dancers will learn this year.

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-9-15-21-am

 

Q: How long have you been teaching dance?

A: I started teaching dance when I was in high school. Dancers in the senior classes at our studio were invited to be assistant teachers starting at age 14, and I was given my first junior jazz class to teach when I was 16! I just kind of never stopped teaching after that point, and I’ve now taught many styles of dance to all ages and levels.

 

Q: Do you have a favorite type of dance to teach and why?

A: I love all styles, but my favorite to teach is Musical Theatre. I love placing focus on storytelling through movement, and watching dancers think out of the box and develop their own unique characters. I always explain that this style of dance is not about the next “big trick” or flashy step – it’s about telling a story. These focal points are things that dancers can apply to all other styles of dance, as well.

 

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

A: I’m looking forward to being wowed by the incredible technique and love of dance that all Platinum dancers show! The dancers attending PDE conventions get me so excited and truly inspire me!

 

Q: Which classes will you be teaching at Convention?

A: This year I am teaching Musical Theatre and Tap in the Junior and Senior rooms.

 

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: Okay, this is embarrassing, but it took me almost an entire year to figure out how to do drawbacks in tap class. Literally just spank, heel, step. Couldn’t do it. I remember faking them across the floor for months, absolutely dreading them! I eventually asked my cousin (who was in class with me) to help me break them down, and just kept working at them until one day, everything clicked!

 

Q: What is your favorite dance memory?

A: My favorite dance memory is the four years I spent as a dance major at the University at Buffalo. Dancing in college was absolutely the best decision I could have made. I was able to train in all styles of dance, from ballet to jazz to modern to tap to ballroom, and I met my very best friends through our program. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to work hard, grow as an artist, and to cultivate my own personal style under the watchful eye of our incredible faculty.

 

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

A: I’m a huge fan of the Final Five USA women’s gymnastics team! They are simply incredible – I think in a past life I must have been an Olympic balance beam champion…

 

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

A: My favorite show of all time is A Chorus Line, and I was lucky enough to be cast as “Mike” in the national tour a few years ago. I had a blast sharing that story across the country! It’s an incredibly important piece of theatre for dancers to see. An amazing story full of classic, stylized jazz movement, and characters to root for – how can you go wrong?

 

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

A: The biggest challenge young dancers face today is trends vs. technique. Trends come and go, but technique never goes out of style. If dancers would replace one jazz or contemporary class a week with a ballet class, they would benefit tremendously (and we would enjoy watching them even more!). Taking ballet class is like eating your vegetables – it might not be your favorite, but it’s the most important.

 

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

A: Yes! Follow me on Instagram @mpdeeb!

 

Q: What has dance taught you?

A: Dance has taught me how to be confident and to assert myself in space. It’s the place where I feel most confident and the most “me.” It’s not just a part of me… it IS me! I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t followed my cousin to our dance studio at age five.

 

Q: Dancing is tiring! What’s your favorite food to help you refuel after a day of dancing? 

A: Greek yogurt, low-fat string cheese, and an apple with peanut butter are my go-to snacks to get through a busy dance day. I also love protein bars – I’m a vegetarian so I need to get my protein in! Quest and Think Thin bars are my current faves. I try to always have something to munch on, since I rarely get a chance to sit down and eat a whole meal on a busy day! Oh, and WATER! Chug it. Gallons of it. Gotta stay hydrated!

 

We’ll see you at our next stop, Michael! Dancers, keep checking our blog to get to know more about our great faculty and staff.

Faculty Spotlight: Kyle Shukis

blog-graphic-sept-001

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!

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-12-32-35-pm

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!

Back to School 101: How to Choreograph Your Classes

Blog graphic.001

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.

PNDC 2016

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!

Invitational

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.
Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 10.36.08 PM

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.  

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 10.36.56 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 10.14.41 PM

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!

Tuition.003

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.