On Wednesday, August 24, TADA Dance Studio, located at 18 SW Front Street in Milford, DE, held an open house to encourage enrollment in dance classes at the studio. Born from the longest performing company in Milford, Diamond Dance Company, the studio renamed itself in 2013 in honor of Delaware dance legend, the late Tatiana Akinfieva-Smith who was a professional ballerina in Russia and a beloved dance teacher in Delaware for decades. With a focus on Classical Russian Ballet with the addition of Jazz, Modern, and Creative Movement, TADA offers a well rounded foundation of dance principles starting with students as young as two years old.
“Enrollment is currently open and we have space in most levels,” said Aimee String, a director and teacher at the studio. “We would love to welcome dancers into the TADA family.” Students of all levels arrived at the studio during the Open House. Some were returning dancers while others were starting their dancing career.
Daisy Stevenson, age 11, said she has been dancing since she was five. She said she could not remember why she decided to start dancing, but she was pretty sure it was her idea. Daisy said that she loves that she can express herself through dance and that her favorite dance types were contemporary and jazz, although she also does pointe ballet. She has appeared in the Tale of the Little Mermaid and will appear in the Nutcracker this year. Jillian Kerr said she knows exactly why she decided to take up dance.
“Have you ever heard of the Lawrence Welk Show?” Jillian asked. “Well, when I was little, I would dance around the room with my thumb in my mouth and my blanket in my hand to the music on that show. My mom decided I should sign up for dance and I have been dancing since in a studio since I was three. I love that I can express myself without speaking and people know what I am trying to express.”
Jillian said that dance is not as easy as it looks on television. She said that there is a lot of practice and that one of her most common phrases is “I can’t, I have dance.” She has performed in many different performances including the Tale of the Little Mermaid, The Nutcracker, Snow White and will appear in Beauty and the Beast this year.
Aubrey Duke who is “six almost seven” said that she has been dancing since she was two and that she liked being able to express herself through dance. She is enrolled in ballet, jazz and tap. Aubrey plans to try out for the Nutcracker this year.
“I grew up in dance with Aimee as a mentor,” Ashley Duke, Aubrey’s mother, said. “I started dancing at six and she dances whenever there is music. I knew I wanted to start her in dance earlier than I started. It helps with her balance and coordination. It is amazing each year to see how much she and the other dancers have grown.”
Ms. String says that dancing goes far beyond the steps and music. She said it is the perfect combination of physical activity, social interaction and mental simulation. She said that dancing enhances life in so many ways including health, confidence, self-expression, social, relaxation and fun. Ms. String said that students learn dedication, work ethic, discipline, time-management and more through dance, skills that will carry into the real world regardless of what their future goals are.
“We require all of our students to enroll in ballet classes before they are eligible for contemporary, tap or jazz,” Ms. String said. “Ballet is the foundation of all styles of dance. It’s impossible to be proficient in any of the other styles without a solid and on-going ballet foundation. We place a great deal of emphasis on receiving the highest quality instruction and helping each individual to become the best dancer they can be. The ballet requirement is just one of the ways we are able to do that.” Ms. String said that students aged four to six are enrolled in what is called “pre-ballet” class which are combined ballet and tap classes. She said that this exposes a beginning dancer to two forms of dance during one class period. Students who are six and older may be placed in a higher level class and the opportunity to enroll in classes like jazz, tap and/or contemporary if they choose to do so.”
Dancers from age two-and-a-half to 18, both male and female, are welcome at TADA. As an extra incentive to encourage more male students to enroll, they are offered free tuition. Ms. String said that TADA has a strong belief that dance is for everyone regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or disability. Dancers are required to wear a solid color leotard, pink tights and pink ballet slippers. Dancers of all ages are required to have their hair in a bun or as pulled back as possible for classes.”
“We do have a small selection of tights, ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary shoes available for purchase at the studio,” Ms. String said. “The buns are required to help staff ensure the proper body alignment of our dancers and keeps hair from being a distraction while learning the movements.”
Each year, TADA does two showcases. There is an informal winter showcase that is open to parents and families in December. Ms. String said that TADA partnered with the Milford Senior Center and raised $300 for the center through the showcase. They are hoping to partner with them again for the showcase this December. All students are included in the Annual June Recital at Milford High School which is scheduled for June 3, 2017.
“In addition to the showcases, students are also frequently invited to perform at local events including The Milford Halloween Parade, The Freedom Festival, Eat in the Street and the Farmer’s Market, to name a few,” Ms. String said. “Students age 7 and up also have the option to audition for Diamond Dance Company which annually performs the Nutcracker and Spring Show at Milford High School. This spring, Diamond Dance Company will present The Enchanting Tale of Beauty and the Beast.
More information about TADA and Diamond Dance Company is available at www.tada-ballet.com.
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