by Taresa Schmidt
It’s officially time to make summer plans! With only a few months left of school, your children will soon start that stay-up-late, wake-up-late, and tell-you-“I’m-bored” cycle of summer break. So let’s make sure they don’t get bored.
Stage Stars Dance and Acro is the place to start. With week-long programs for ages three and up, your child can spend their summer learning and growing.
Monica Mundis, mother to dancer Mila Mundis, feels dance empowers her daughter to be her best self. “It is not about being the perfect dancer,” she says. “It is about doing your best and enjoying the process. This is the age you need to set up a solid body and mind base. Dance does it. Mila is a confident kid, and dance helped her to be a confident performer, never shy to share her thoughts. Dance increases her memory skills when she has to remember lyrics or a script. She performed at Shrek Jr. and The Little Mermaid musicals, displaying her dancing skills learned at Stage Stars.”
Maybe your child has never danced before.
“This is the perfect time to start,” says Ralph Elliott, who’s been teaching at Stage Stars since 2011. “Summer is the chance to try one style of dance for one week and then decide if it’s something they like and want to commit to during the school year. Summer is often the time when we see children really fall in love with dance.”
Dance Teacher Emily Kohlmorgen agrees. “Summer is a great time to try a new style of dance due to just a week’s commitment,” she says. “That way, you know if that’s something you want to commit to for nine months come the fall!
Maybe your child dances during the school year.
Why stop there? “Summer is a time that we see a lot of growth in our dancers,” says Mr. Ralph. “Being able to work with our dancers during consecutive days means they are learning new skills and then getting to apply them for several days in a row. We can also take some of that time to reinforce skills that they worked on during the year.”
Geoff Zelley, father to dancers Mirabella and Lily, agrees. “Beyond the benefit of getting them out of the house during summer vacation,” he says, “the nature of the summer dance weeks forces them to work on techniques that might get stale and keep working those muscles when otherwise they might not have. The result is that they are able to maintain their progression and, in some cases, accelerate it. Lily loves showing the new moves they learn during camp and demonstrates even when she is tired at the end of a long day.”
Ms. Emily attributes summer dance to the confidence she sees in the fall in many of her dancers. “They absolutely grow during the summer,” she says, “and they come back in September feeling confident and ready to keep progressing!”
It’s never too early to start.
Stage Stars offers summer programs for children as young as three years old. Why? Because dance is for everyone! No matter how big or small, dance helps children connect to their creative side and offers them a chance to build physical strength and fall in love with movement.
Monica Mundis’ daughter, Mila, began dancing at Stage Stars when she was three years old and has been enjoying dance now for four years. “Time flies when you’re having fun!” says Monica.
Friendships that last.
Dancing in the summer is a great way to stay active and connected with your dance friends in the summer months,” says Ms. Emily. “And it’s a great way to make new friends as well.”
It’s true – summer programs offer children the chance to socialize and bond while they continue to learn and grow.
Just ask Olga Petrova, a HAC member whose granddaughter Zoya visits her each summer. “Zoya lives in California but comes to visit in the summer,” says Olga. For the past few years, Olga has enrolled Zoya in Stage Stars summer programming. “She comes and meets people, makes new friends, and even sees them outside of dance.”
Geoff Zelley’s daughters have had a similar experience. “I think summer dance has been a good way to keep in touch with their friends,” he says. “Lily and Mira have made some amazing friendships in dance and in their summer dance programs.”
The unique summer experience.
Dancing during the school year offers immeasurable opportunities for growth, fun, and experience, but summer dance programs offer their own unique opportunity.
“One thing that’s unique about taking a summer dance program is that a dancer has a condensed chance to learn choreography,” says Mr. Ralph. “We spend the week working on technique, studying a particular style of dance, but we also teach our students choreography. At the end of the week, they perform that choreography for their family and friends. Summer dance is unique because it’s a student’s chance to learn how to absorb choreography in a short amount of time and then perform it. That’s important for a dancer to be able to do, but it’s also just a great life lesson.”
Monica Mundis feels summer is the perfect time to introduce dance to children. “It is the time you want to encourage them to pursue their talents because they are young enough to capture the essence of dance, the combination of their physical abilities and inner creativity along with promoting self-awareness,” she says. “I love how Miss Angie and the SSDA staff are responsive, caring, and creative.”
A few favorites.
There are many different summer dance programs to choose from, but Ms. Emily is looking forward to teaching Leap & Flip (available to students ages seven and up). “Leap & Flip is a favorite of mine,” she says, “because you can really see the progress by the end of the week since we are focusing so much on just a few specific skills.”
Mr. Ralph is excited about Wild About Dance (available to students ages seven to ten). “Our students really have fun in this program,” he says. “Seeing them perform jazz, hip hop, and tap for each other is always a great time. They love when we turn on our cool studio lights and let them perform what they’ve learned at the end of the week. They’re always so encouraging to each other in that setting. And they’re learning so much at the same time.”
Mila Mundis enjoys what her mother Monica calls thematic classes. “They are always Mila’s favorites ones. I remember Mila bringing home her own creations and paintings inspired by the specific class like Princess Day.”
As for the Zelley girls, they also have their favorites. “Lily is looking forward to Leap & Flip, as it will give her an opportunity to work on some of the skills she has been focusing on during the year,” says Geoff.
“Mira, as usual, is looking forward to Tap and Tumble,” Geoff continues. “She is keen to keep working on some of the skills she has been developing during the year in acro. We joke that she is a fierce tapper (she has gone through a number of tap shoes over the years), so any chance she gets to do it in her off time is one that she is going to take