Well it is that time of year again! Time to start looking ahead to the school year – and that means choosing activities! As a mom, I am just like all of you when it comes to planning our schedules and looking for that perfect balance:) While it may be obvious that I love dance and I truly believe in the value of an dance education for all kids, you may not know why! So here is my top 10 list of why dance is the best activity for kids!
Top 10 Reasons why Dance is the best activity for kids!!
1. Cardiovascular Strength! Dance involves a lot of energy output because it involves movement in all directions. All that stopping, starting, changing directions, burns a ton of fuel! Dance makes kids fit and healthy!
2. Dance Helps Kids Relax! Research since the 1980’s supports that dance curbs anxiety, reduces stress, and helps overcome social anxiety.
3. Dance Improves Balance and Strength! The up and down, side to side movements activates and trains all your body’s muscles including the little support muscles and tendons. Dance also builds coordination, flexibility, and endurance while reducing the chance for injury.
4. GRIT!! Dance helps kids learn discipline, because they have to memorize and execute specific steps and body movements that require practice and perseverance. Dance training teaches kids that hard work pays off! When children continue to put in effort in class, they will literally see results in the mirror. It’s such a concrete way for children to see that observing their actions and listening to guidance from teachers, combined with hard work, leads to positive results. I know from personal experience that the arts can be challenging. As a young dancer, there were many times when I became so frustrated that I wanted to quit. But I didn’t. After practicing hard, I learned that hard work and perseverance pay off. This mindset will certainly matter as they grow—especially during their career where they will likely be asked to continually develop new skills and work through difficult projects.
5. Dancers Are Smart! Dance increases cognitive function at all ages. Children who study dance are more likely to excel in school. In addition to the cognitive benefits, dance also teaches organization and discipline – 2 skills that kids really need to succeed in an academic environment. “A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.”
6. Dance Builds Self Esteem!! As children learn new steps the feel a sense of accomplishment. This tends to build their self-esteem as well, pushing them to learn more. When children perform in front of others, they develop a better sense of confidence as well.
7. Dancers Make Friends! Taking a dance class is a great way for your child to meet a new circle of friends! Dance teams allow for deeper connections and lifelong friendships.
8. Dancers Work Together! They must share responsibility and compromise to achieve their common goal. Kids learn that their contribution to the group is integral to its success.
9. Dancers Know How to Work Through Challenges! The arts strengthen problem solving and critical thinking skills. How do I express this feeling through my dance? How should I play this character? Learning how to make choices and decisions will certainly carry over into their education and other parts of life—as this is certainly a valuable skill in adulthood.
10. Dance Leads to Lifelong Success. Because of all the reasons above, dancers go on to accomplish great things both on and off the dance floor. Dancers have access to scholarship opportunities for nearly all universities as part of their arts program or their college dance teams. Dance is also a lifelong activity allowing participants to continue well after high school and college sports are done. There are volunteer opportunities for dancers to use their talents to give back to their community. And looking far into the future, dance is medically proven to prevent dementia.
Athlete + Artist = Dancer!!!
The showcase is known for creating special memories—both for the dancer and for their family and friends. It is a sentimental moment in time for many parents, watching their child perform in front of an audience! For many of our dance families at Kick Performing Arts, it marks the closure of one year’s journey in dance and “sets the stage” for the next.
After the showcase, costumes become special mementos, programs become keepsakes, photos become facebook posts, and our free digital download of the show often become your household’s most-watched entertainment! The time may have passed, but the souvenirs remain … along with the personal growth each student has achieved.
One comment we often hear from parents after the showcase is how their child won’t stop talking about it! The excitement lifts them up long after the curtain has come down. We love hearing about this kind of enthusiasm, and we hope you’ll keep the dance conversation going at home. This is an excellent time to listen to what your child has to say about what they liked best or what was challenging. Being able to reflect on the experience and communicate that to others is another awesome skill to develop!
Sometimes the memories made at showcase aren’t the ones you’d expect. Maybe your dancer became distracted at one point onstage and made a silly face that made everyone laugh, or maybe they forgot a step during the dance and seemed discouraged. Live performances can be a little unpredictable like this, but with a growth mindset, you and your child can still choose to see the positive outcome. Like how that silly face was sweet and entertaining, and grandma loved it. Or that forgotten step? What a way to show perseverance!
The lifetime memories made at the showcase enrich our students’ knowledge and understanding of what a performance encompasses. They create context for other performing opportunities, such as in theater or music, and they build the kind of confidence only experience can deliver.
Performing onstage is an incredible opportunity for dancers to share what they have been learning in class, and to showcase their progress from the beginning of the year to the end. Learning how to dance is a gradual process, and some skills take years to fully master—but however big or small the steps are, it is a major accomplishment for anyone to perform in front of hundreds of people! All the hard work is worthwhile when a dancer experiences the high fives and smiles and congratulations that the recital brings from classmates, family, and friends.
Whether it’s a young dancer performing for their first time or a teen dancer showcasing years of training, performance day achievements are incredibly special to celebrate. Lifelong memories are made from those achievements—and for many dancers, a true passion for dance is ignited!
The Summer Stride
Summer is just around the corner and here at Kick Performing Arts we are super excited about all our fantastic summer program offerings!
With the current dance season winding down and the new season ramping up, you might have been wondering lately if summer dance classes are right for your child. From our experience, every student has the potential to hit their “summer stride” … in other words, they all have the ability to keep their learning power going in the summer, without losing any momentum!
We believe there is a unique benefit for each and every student who dances with us in the summer, whether it’s during a weekly class, a dance camp, or an intensive. Read on to see which advantages might be in store for your child!
Because dance is built on muscle memory, summer study can help your child fine-tune their movement vocabulary and technique, allowing them to improve their skills, grow stronger, and be better prepared to take on new material. With so much more available time, we see our dancers make huge progress each summer!
Young children do well with stability in their routine, so maintaining that normalcy with summer dance can give them (and you!) peace of mind, even as the rest of your summer plans may vary. For our older dancers the consistency allows them to stay strong all summer long!!
After the showcase, we find that some students are eager to try a new dance style (usually something they were inspired by!) to see how they like it. Summer is THE perfect time to test out those new interests, without a long commitment.
Our summer programs, with their blend of both structure and fun, can give your child the boost they need to jump into fall classes feeling good about themselves. There’s nothing quite like the personal development that can be built in the summer!
It’s part of our mission to ensure that your child is learning how to balance their hard work with time off, and the summer offers the best of both worlds. We encourage all of our students to make time for rest and relaxation, and also make time to keep their bodies strong and minds engaged. This balance is what the true summer stride is all about!
There’s something for everyone here this summer at Kick Performing Arts. We’re happy to help you customize the right schedule for your family or make a special recommendation for your child … just ask!
Raising a Healthy Dancer, Singer or Actor:)
In our arts classes at Kick Performing Arts , we are committed to developing dancers, actors and singers who have healthy bodies and minds—and a healthy outlook on life! We want our students to feel confident about themselves and love their bodies.
What can you do at home to support this objective and boost your child’s overall wellness? We encourage these principles as a guide to build healthy habits in your child:
Think about food as fuel
Nutrition plays a huge role in developing healthy dancers! Help your child see food as fuel by referring to it that way, that food makes up the protein, fats, and carbohydrates they need to have the energy and mental clarity for dancing.
Make hydration easy
Whether at home or at the studio, children may need extra reminders to stay hydrated. Make drinking water a habit by having a water bottle available whenever possible (such as in their backpack or dance bag) and inviting your child to help prepare it in their favorite way, such as with the squeeze of an orange or an overload of ice cubes!
Wind down before bedtime
To optimize your child’s existing routine, help them discover ways to “decompress like a dancer” in the hour before bedtime. Listening to music or gently stretching, for example, can be excellent ways to unwind.
Talk about bodies in a healthful way
At Kick Performing Arts , we are hyper-aware that body-positive talk by adults influences kids’ perspectives about their own bodies. We encourage parents to curb any negative talk about themselves and instead model an appreciation for what healthy bodies can do, such as grow stronger muscles or learn new dance moves!
Take social media breaks
Older kids can easily get caught in a current of body-comparisons as they scroll through their social media. Encouraging them to take breaks—even just an evening at a time—interrupts those thoughts, allowing kids to refresh their thinking.
It’s essential for us at Kick Performing Arts to grow the mindset that a arts education is about more than just the steps: it’s also a place that helps shape healthy habits for life. We appreciate our Kick parents standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us on this mission!
Why is the Dress Code Important?
It’s a common question to hear from dance parents and students alike: What purpose does the dress code actually serve? We’re glad you asked! Kick Performing Arts dress code was established for a few very important reasons:
The number one factor in establishing a dress code is for all students’ safety in class. A basic leotard and tights, along with hair pulled back and the appropriate shoes, ensures that there are no extraneous clothes or jewelry that can become hazardous. The dress code also helps teachers see that students are using the right muscles and alignment in order to learn the correct movements in class.
At Kick Performing Arts, we want every student to feel good about trying his or her best in class. Following the dress code helps us make sure that everyone is appropriately covered … but not so covered that their movement is restricted! We know that kids can sometimes feel self-conscious, and we want to encourage their confidence by helping them feel comfortable with what they wear in the studio.
A dress code is one way students show respect for their peers and their teachers. It demonstrates an understanding of how a dance class operates, with minimal distractions and the ability to move easily for any combination of steps or choreography. It shows that the students are prepared to learn and are willing to save their fashion statements for outside of class.
Because leotards and tights also often serve as a versatile base layer for costuming, it makes sense that students become accustomed to them during class time. Just as swimmers wear swimsuits and basketball players wear jerseys, dancers wear leotards and tights to have the freedom of movement required to practice correctly and efficiently.
Everyone benefits with the dress code in place: dancers can learn comfortably and instructors can teach efficiently! At Kick we take pride in our dress code and are happy to help you with questions at any time. Here is a link to our Dress Code!
Beating the Back-to-School Blues
“But I’m tired!”
It’s that time of year again! School is back in session and after-school activities abound, meaning “I’m tired” can become a frequent refrain from the backseat of your car.
It’s not uncommon for us to hear about young dancers who fall asleep on the way to class during the first month or so of school. Getting used to a new schedule is not easy! Some children won’t be shy about stating how tired they are after school is out; others just feel a little grouchy by the time dance class rolls around.
What can you do to help turn this feeling around (and end your own exasperation)? In our experience at Kick Performing Arts, the suggestions included here have the potential to completely bust those back-to-school blues!
Create a fun “going-to-dance” ritual. Whether it’s the music you jam out to on the way to class each week, or a family pizza night afterward, a special ritual can always perk up the day. The routine built around attending dance class can have a tremendous impact on your child’s ability to adapt to their new schedule.
Offer gentle, consistent reassurance. While we all know that logic doesn’t always fly with children, sometimes they feel better just knowing you understand and are there for them. Remind them that feeling tired after school is normal, and that the feeling will get better over time. Let them know that you’re proud of them for making an effort.
Be prepared with water and snacks! Children who are well-hydrated and who’ve had a light snack before dance class feel more refreshed and ready to move. They have the energy they need to enjoy the experience and retain what they’ve learned.
If there is a “best part” about the back-to-school blues, it’s that they are temporary. At Kick Performing Arts, we know that this period of time will soon become a distant memory, one replaced with the refrain of “Is it time to go to dance class yet?” Consider yourself warned!
Why Children Need Grit, and How Dance Makes a Difference
Gritty people have a growth mindset; they don’t give up.
This paraphrased quote is from author Angela Duckworth, who popularized the word “grit” with her famous TED Talk about the power of passion and perseverance. She wasn’t talking specifically about dancers, but she could have been!
Children need to develop resilience in order to learn from their experiences and grow into their full potential. This is why we value determination and tenacity so highly here at Kick Performing Arts, because we know these are beneficial qualities to have in life, in or out of the dance classroom. But can you teach a child these qualities; to be more resilient, more gritty? We strongly believe the answer to that is YES.
In dance class, we want our students to know we care about them and want them to succeed. But we also want to hold them to age-appropriate, growth-driven standards—high standards that will require their hard work, practice, and focus for achievement.
Dance, like life, can present its challenges: the step might not look correct yet; your body might be sore or injured; the audition answer might be no; you might even fall down every now and then. Allowing a child to simply walk away from those challenges (or give up on them) only teaches the child that hard work need not apply. Persevering through those challenges, however, teaches them to bounce back; to build the work ethic they will need throughout their childhood and young adult life.
These lessons in dance will be hard at times, no doubt. As parents and teachers, we know there will sometimes be tears or frustrations. But that won’t stop us from encouraging these kids to push themselves. They are amazing kids who will go on to persevere through a tough exam at school, bounce back from a job they didn’t get, or work through a strained friendship. They are amazing kids who will become amazing adults because they have been challenged by failure and fueled by success.
At Kick Performing Arts, we want you to know that this message is very important to us and close to our hearts, and it helps us coach the best out of your child, day in and day out. Through dance we’re teaching them how to be grittier and in turn, empowering them for the future.
What is Age-Appropriate Movement in Dance?
Why is it so important that Kick offers age-appropriate movement for its dance students? Because your child’s safety depends on it!
Safe movements for young dancers are dependent on their ages and rate of physical growth. For example, growth plates in the skeleton—the growing tissues that help bones become strong—don’t reach full maturity until a child’s teen years.
This is one reason why an eight-year-old dancer will still be introduced to age-appropriate movements even if she has been dancing for six years. Kick’s instructors understand that certain skills may not be safe for her to practice just yet.
To develop proper technique and a love for dance, we help all of our students build a strong dance foundation over time.
At Kick Performing Arts, we take pride in knowing that our teaching methods must include different approaches for different ages. Our faculty take great care in their teacher education to learn how to instruct children of all ages with the most-relevant tools and resources. Our curricula allow us to ensure the pace of learning is just right at each level.
Here are some examples you may notice from your child’s class:
With little dancers, we focus on developing gross motor skills, such as marching, galloping, and hopping—not intricate technique
Our younger dancers also work on non-locomotor movements such as bending, turning, stretching, and balancing on one foot
Since the muscles that support a child’s hip joints are still developing, we never force a child’s “turnout” (the rotated position many dance steps are performed from)
As our dancers grow, we introduce strength and flexibility exercises only at developmentally-appropriate times
We ensure our dancers of all ages know to never overstretch their muscles, either in class or when they stretch on their own time
Your child’s safe physical development in dance is a top priority in our classrooms, and it is a privilege for us to be a part of their personal growth in the classroom. We appreciate your trust in us as we help your child progress in dance, step by step!
2019 Holiday Gift Guide!
Ten Fun and Fanciful gift ideas to delight any young dancer!
Need ideas for the dancer in your life? From budding ballerinas to competition queens we have an idea for every dancer!
10. Give the Gift of Dance! Watch your childs eyes light up on Christmas morning when they unwrap their brand new tutu for dance class! 😍 Sign up for classes that start in January anytime between now and December 20, 2019 and we’ll give you a free tutu for your child to unwrap on Christmas morning. (Maybe your child is a bit past the tutu-phase, not to worry! We have other fun gifts for our older dancers and male dancers as well!) Click the link below to get more info on our class schedule and easy online enrollment! And then swing by to pick up your tutu or email us to mail it!
9. Strechy Bands – Thera bands are a wonderful tool for improving flexibility and mobility in dancers! Click here for a great selection (Bosu balls, foam blocks, and mats are also great!)
8. My Turn Disc! Finally a turning board we can approve! Dancers learn proper technique on this board that has them turn on releve! https://myturnathletics.com/
7. Master classes – we love the gift of new experiences! How about a GC to upcoming master classes in January at Kick or a Broadway Dance Center class card to a fun city trip!!
6. Dance bags! Every dancer needs a bag! For competition kids we love Dream Duffle. Yes a Dream Duffle is an investment, but it makes competition day a breeze for kids with 4 or more costumes. For our older dancers who are bringing tap, jazz, ballet and hip hop shoes to classes, we love the Terez duffle bags and backpacks (available at Kick) with plenty of room for all your dance essentials! And for our little dancers, there is nothing more fun that our flip sequin bags!!
5. Make up Brushes! Got a young competitive dancer on your list? A set of beautiful makeup brushes will come in handy all season long! Tarte has a new set this season that comes in an easy to pack roll! https://tartecosmetics.com
4. A new leo! Dance class is just a little more fun with a brand new leo on! Kick is fully stocked with lots of new items in our shop, or check out Coppelia in Spring Lake (Just make sure you know your dance’s school dress code!)
3. Logo Wear! Give your dancer the gift of studio spirit! A leotard, leggings, stuffed animal (great for competition ribbons) or sweatshirt from your studio is the perfect way for dancers to show their studio spirit and have LOTS of things to wear to competitions, conventions, etc…. and JUST IN at Kick our new LOGO SHERPAS are a limited edition just for the holidays!
2. Tutus and bows! Just like Jojo, our littlest dancers love tutus, bows, and all things that glitter! Add some sparkle to her stocking with glitter bows, or keep her dancer legs warm with some fun Kick socks! All purchases from our dancewear show of $75 or more get a free bow, tutu or Kick socks!!
1. See A Show! Nothing inspires a young dancer more that seeing a professional performance. Broadway, Radio City, New York City Ballet – so many opportunities for young dancers to get inspired!! And right in our own backyard you can see an incredible new production of the Nutcracker called Nutcracker Rocks! This professional production tells the story of Clara but with a Jersey Shore twist! In addition to an incredible company of professionals, this production features some very talented young performers from Kick Dance Studios! Click here for tickets!
October is here and Halloween is on it’s way. Need a costume for your little Ghouls and Goblins? It’s time to get creative! Got a loved dance costume that has more life left in it? Over the years I have seen lots of trick or treaters in dance costumes looking Boo-tiful in their re purposed costumes! Here are a few super simple ways to make the most out of your old costumes!
If your costume was themed, you may not have to do much! If you were a 80’s girl, a rock star, flight attendant, rock and roller, or a princess, many dance costumes can be worn as is with just a few additions or accessories.
If your costume is primarily one color scheme, choose a costume that fits with the color! For example, if you have a red dress, you could be a ladybug or a devil. If your costume is blue, you could be a butterfly or mermaid. All black makes a super cute Halloween cat! White lyrical costumes make great brides, mummies and angels. Pink tutus can become cotton candy, and purple can become rock royalty. Think outside the box. Plus, you can always use pieces and parts of different costumes to make a new one!
Do you have old tights or leotards that are worn out or have holes in them? Add a few more rips and tears, some paint splotches and some awesome face makeup and you’ve got yourself a Zombie Ballerina! Maybe even make a tutu with some Halloween themed tulle! Check out this tutorial!
- Share and trade! Looking for something new this Halloween? Try trading costumes with a friend for a new to you look that is all your own! Host a costume swap party for some pre Halloween cost saving fun!
Got a great idea? Photos of yourself in your re purposed dance costume? Share with us!! https://www.facebook.com/KickStudio/
Happy Halloween from all of us at Kick Dance Studios!
How to Choose A Dance Studio
Motivations for signing children up for extracurricular activities vary from parent to parent. They may see it as a way for their child to learn teamwork, develop discipline, make new friends or simply to try something new. Rarely does a parent sign their child up for swimming so they can be in the Olympics or for soccer so they can become the next David Beckham or Mia Hamm, but that does happen, too.
Whatever the case, you want to be sure you’re selecting the best experience for your child. So when it’s time to choose a dance studio, rather than simply enrolling your child in the nearest opportunity, it’s worth some thought and a little homework. Even if your child is dancing just for fun, chances are they’ll be learning more than just dance skills. They’ll very likely be learning how to handle life.
So what to look for? Most importantly, you’ll want a studio that has a sound curriculum with solid instructors and a positive environment. How to find it? Interview studio directors to learn more about the studio philosophy. Ask to watch a class. While it may be too distracting to have a new observer in the room, some studios will offer windows or video where you can see what’s happening during the class.
As you’re asking around, interviewing and observing, here’s what to watch for:
1. A studio that teaches children how to dance rather than teaching them a dance. Children need to learn how before they can do. Your child shouldn’t spend more than half of their total annual class time learning their recital dance.
2. A facility that is clean with adequate access to water and restrooms and—very important—proper flooring. Dancing on concrete offers little protection for your dancer’s body against the wear and tear on jumping joints and bouncing bones. Additionally, if you observe an unusual number of injured dancers at a studio, it may indicate a studio’s lack of attention to technique, not just bad flooring.
3. Instructors who offer individual corrections for dancers and break down the elements of a movement so dancers fully understand the technique or combination. Instructors who have professional dancing experience as well as a degree in dance show a commitment to the arts.
4. The 4 C’s of Age-Appropriateness
Class length and size—Smaller dancers should mean shorter classes. Smaller dancers should also mean smaller class sizes than older dancers.
Communication—Instructors who speak in a friendly way and in terms your child can understand.
Choreography—Children will have their entire adult lives to act like adults. A studio that preserves and protects childhood will teach your child more valuable life skills than one that seeks to sexualize them in any way.
Costumes—Ditto. Let’s let kids be kids for as long as possible.
5. On the subject of costumes, a studio dress code can be an indicator of excellence at a studio. Dress codes ensure appropriate coverage while also allowing instructors to see the lines of the body to ensure proper technique.
6. A positive tone that encourages friendly interaction, encouragement, friendship and fun. Children need positive role models and environments that will feed their young spirits; a good dance studio will offer exactly that.
7. A variety of class types that will allow your child to explore many different dance styles: from ballet, tap and jazz to modern, contemporary and hip hop. It’s a bonus to find studios that also offer master classes with guest artists. That gives your child the opportunity to learn new choreography and learn it from someone with a different teaching and dance style.
8. A studio that pays attention to level placements and provides progress reports is a studio that is paying attention to your individual child. It’s also a studio that allows children to progress at their own pace, which in the long run saves them from unnecessary injuries.
9. Remember that note above about learning more than just great dancing? Community involvement through their dance studio will heighten dancers’ empathy and awareness of the needs of others. And that instills respect and compassion that can last a lifetime.
10. Finally, a studio that offers performance opportunities to your child. When your child participates in tennis or track, you expect that you’ll get to see the results of all the hours of practice at a match or meet. Why wouldn’t you want the same for your dancing child? After all, dance is a performance art.
The following is a very well written article on the importance of proper dress in all levels of dance classes:) Thank you to Beyond the Barre for this beautifully written explanation!
In our minds we think of lots of outdoor fun in the summer – swimming, tennis, surfing, fishing, boating are why we love to live here! But with 10 full weeks of summer, there is plenty of time to add the arts to your child’s summer fun!
The arts are a great way to unplug this summer and unleash your creativity with summer dance! We’ve got the perfect cure for the summertime blues with our line-up of summer classes. With all of choices that are available to families over the summer, we’ve put together our top 6 reasons why summer dance is special and important!
1. Engage your brain! During the school year children are learning all day, every day. Summer dance camps are a great resource to trigger young minds through physical and observational learning. Students are memorizing sequences of steps, spacing, music, formations and keeping their brains active! Studies show that when we make split-second, quick decisions (like when we dance), we create new neural pathways that increase our intelligence. Learning lines or song lyrics helps with memorization skills and public speaking. Give your kids a break from school but keep their minds engaged through dancing!
2. Beat the Heat! While summer weather encourages us all to enjoy the nice weather and cool pools, a break from the heat is always appreciated. Our dance camps take place in the mornings with snacks and crafts included with many camps. Switch up your summer camps and give your student a variation with their summer camps.
3. Discovery! The Performing arts is a great way for children to discover what they are passionate about. Many of our camps offer a specific style or fuse several styles together within the week and focus on fun! Maybe it’s the discovery of jazz, or, maybe it’s the opportunity to discover how good they are at something. Discovery is a wonderful thing for every child regardless of age. It fires the imagination and allows children to dream.
4. Engage in maximum creativity! If your child is drawn towards creativity, summer dance camps are a perfect fit! Dancers, musicians, actors, and acrobats have many opportunities to get their creative juices flowing through movement, arts and crafts, games and songs. Theater camps even involve costume design, hair and make-up techniques for the stage, set design and more!
5. Stay Strong all Summer Long! Summer is a long time for our serious dancers to take off! By continuing their training in the summer months dancers stay strong, prevent injury and progress at a very rapid rate. We find summer is the best time for technical development.
6. Make new friends One of the greatest benefits of summer dance is getting the opportunity to work with new teachers and meet new friends. Dance involves a team like atmosphere and in many of our camps dancers spend several days together forming new friendships. Receiving instruction from a new teacher is incredibly helpful and super fun!
Sadie and Madeleine’s giggles are infectious. When you hear them, you can’t help but smile. But as quickly as they start, those giggles turn into a serious discussion about dancing.
Sadie Berry and Madeleine Ganun are the best of friends, and dancing is probably their strongest bond.
But when it comes to their roles at Kick Dance Studios, Sadie, 10, and Madeleine, 11, are more than just dancers and friends. They’re role models.
“They both take the time to care about the younger dancers at Kick,” said Vanessa Berry, Sadie’s mom and owner of Kick Dance Studios. “They are always ready to help out with camps and assist the little ones backstage.”
And Madeleine and Sadie relish their role model status.
“It makes us feel grown up,” said Sadie. ‘We like to help out the little girls and we can do it because we were little once too.”
“It feels good to know that the younger girls look up to us and think we’re good dancers,” said Madeleine.
Sadie and Madeleine are so close that they even like the same kinds of dances — jazz and acro.
“It’s better than having just your brother there,” the two said.
And speaking of brothers, even their brothers are best friends.
And their mothers too.
“My favorite thing about Sadie is that she’s really nice and a really good dancer,” said Madeleine.
“My favorite thing about Madeleine is that she’s a good dancer and she’s very loyal,” said Sadie.
Our favorite thing about the two is their dedication to dance and their caring and helpful attitudes when it comes to being great role models for younger Kick dancers.
“They have similar interests but different strengths,” said Vanessa. “They have such determination and they both work so hard to be great dancers.”
Sadie and Madeleine know how to have fun with each other, but they also know when to buckle down and dance. And when to lend a helping hand.
Photos by Purelee Photography
Kick Dance Studios dancers scored big after a busy competition season, bringing home more first place wins than ever before its 15-year history. 150 dancers participated in three different competitions — Dancers Inc. in East Brunswick, NJ, April 1-3; Beyond The Stars Dance Competition in Vorhees, NJ, April 8-10; and Access Broadway in Atlantic City, NJ, April 22-24. 40 dancers participated in extra competitions; Cathy Roe Ultimate Dance Challenge, Basking Ridge, NJ, March 19-20; Elite Dance Challenge in Nutley, NJ, April 29-May 1.
Here are the first-place wins for Kick dancers:
1st Overall T.E.A.M. at Access Broadway
Emily Ketterer of Rumson – 1st place solo
Sophia Mazzei of Rumson – Miss Petite Elite at Cathy Roe
Catherine Bradley of Rumson – 1st place solo overall and Miss Cathy Roe
Henry Berry of Fair Haven 3 title wins – Mr. Cathy Roe, Mr. Dancers Inc., and Mr. Elite
“Bell Hop Boogie” – 1st place at three competitions
“Poor Unfortunate Souls” – 1st place in two competitions overall
“Ease on Down” – 1st place in two competitions overall
“Consider Yourself” – 1st place duet overall
“Dream Girls” – 1st place overall in two competitions plus Most Entertaining
“All He Cares About Is Love” – 1st place overall in two competitions
“School of Rock” – 1st place overall in two competitions
“Magic” – 1st place overall
“Welcome to the 60s” – 1st place overall
“Rotten to the Core” – 1st place overall in two competitions
“Born to Entertain” – 1st place, Highest Scoring Dance, Musical Theater Vocal
Kendall Walsh of Rumson- 1st place solo overall
Madeleine Ganun, 11, Rumson – Miss Junior Ultimate Dance Cathy Roe
“Pitch Perfect” – 1st place overall in two competitions
“100% Pure Love” – 1st place overall in two competitions
“Little Red Hat” – 1st place overall in two competitions
“Fuego” – 1st place overall in two competitions
“Safe and Sound” – 1st place duet overall
“Chocolaté” – 1st place overall
“I Wanna Be a Producer” – 1st place and Most Entertaining
“Corner” – 1st place overall
“Not So Serious Soldiers” – 1st place overall
“Run Freedom, Run” – 1st place overall
“Marry You” – 1st place duet overall
“We Own the Night” – 1st place overall
Drive to improve. Drive to be the best. Drive to learn. To master technique. To achieve goals.
Grace Lehman is driven. And actually, driven may be an understatement.
At 14, Grace was a competitive gymnast, contending at a very high level. Then something clicked in her brain. She wanted to dance.
And dance she did.
Ten months later, at 15, Grace is taking tap, lyrical, hip hop, ballet, acro, jazz, and contemporary dance. She made Team Kick and takes solo classes. Oh, and she made the diamond plus team, the elite team at Kick Dance Studios.
All less than a year after she began taking dance.
But what made her want to leave her comfort zone and a life of gymnastics, everything she has always known and excelled at, to give dance a shot?
“I just didn’t have the spark in me to do gymnastics anymore,” said Grace. “I achieved what I wanted to achieve.”
When Grace told her mom, Meridith, that she wanted to switch to dance, her mom wasn’t surprised.
“She really enjoyed the competitions ing ymnastics,” said Meridith. “Then her focus changed and she was ready for the next big thing in her life.”
So Grace made the move to dance.
When she was 3, Grace took one dance class with Vanessa Berry, owner of Kick Dance Studios. So when her daughter was determined to dance, Meridith immediately turned to Vanessa for advice and guidance.
“I talked with Vanessa before Grace started last year and I told her she wanted to dance,” said Meridith. “Vanessa was open to it although starting dance as a teen can have its struggles. I knew knowing Grace that if someone would give her a chance, she would take it.”
And she did!
Vanessa herself began dancing at an older age so she understood how difficult it was to make the transition. In Grace, Vanessa saw a familiar passion and drive to dance.
“Because I started dancing when I was 13, I understood the challenges Grace would face,” said Vanessa. “In Grace I saw extreme passion and dedication.”
Grace practices and practices some more. She stays up late perfecting her technique.
“She has to do it right,” said Meridith. “She has this ability to make corrections and go back out and do the dance correctly. If she has a bad performance, she bounces right back.”
At her first competition, Grace received a high score for her solo performance. Remember, this is a young girl who had just started dancing and performing.
“Vanessa gave me the chance to dance. She’s the reason I’m achieving my goals,” said Grace.
Making the diamond plus team was a pivotal moment in Grace’s young life.
“It was my ‘ahhh’ moment,” said Grace. “It was so satisfying. Everything was official.”
Meridith sees a change in Grace since she began her dance journey. She’s a young girl who is learning life skills, something that is extremely important to mom. “It’s about setting goals, following through, making friends with people who have the same aspirations,” said Meridith. “It’s about discipline, commitment and learning. And especially as a young woman, it’s about developing power and strength.”
But Meridith has also noticed a more grown up Grace.
“She’s great at taking constructive criticism and overcoming some of the subjectiveness of dance. But most of all she’s following her dream,” said Meridith.
For Grace, dance is also about getting to satisfy her many different sides. “Dancing brings out all my sides,” said Grace. “I have a pretty side, a jazzy side, a musical theater side, and a tumbling side.”
But there’s also a much more powerful reason Grace is dancing. Once you start talking to her, you feel her emotions come through and understand that dance is a passion passed on to her.
Her cousin Sammy was a dancer. Sammy passed away from osteosarcoma when she was just 9-years-old, and through it all — a leg amputation and many treatments — she danced.
“Sammy is my inspiration to dance,” said Grace. And Grace is honoring Sammy in her solo this year with the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Sammy’s favorite song.
Grace has never had a single regret about giving up gymnastics for dance. Her commitment, her ambition, and her drive to be the best have made her a strong Kick Dancer and inspiration for so many others. Her mother, instructors and friends are all touched by her dance.
And we know Sammy is watching and smiling from above.
To see Grace’s performance and other Kick Dancers, attend Kick Dance Studios 2016 recital at Count Basie Theater May 22. Click here for more details.
Photos by Purelee Photography
Children need mentors. They need them for guidance. For inspiration. For self-esteem. For confidence. So in a world gone hectic, where can parents find those mentors to help guide their children on the path to success?
According to Mentoring.org, 90 percent of young people who have a mentor are more interested in being one themselves. Those are exactly the kind of kids we need to be raising.
Solid mentors can be found outside the home in coaches, teachers, community members, and neighbors. It’s the football coach who stays late to work with a struggling player. It’s the YMCA employee who takes extra time to work on homework with a child. And it’s the dance instructor who works overtime on weekends to build a child’s confidence to be able to perform in front of an audience.
I see these mentorships happening each and every day at my studio. The instructors at Kick are first and foremost mentors and figures of inspiration to their students. Dancers of all ages feel comfortable confiding in our instructors. Not only are the teachers the best at what they do, but they have created an environment that fosters openness and honesty outside of the home. Our instructors are highly trained, boasting credentials that include years of dance instruction; training at Broadway Dance Center, Joffrey Ballet and the Royal Academy; performing as a Rockette, in Broadway musicals and throughout the world with well-known dance masters. These instructors have dedicated their lives to teaching dance, and they are passionate about it.
But above all, they are passionate about being mentors. Dancers can spend up to 12 hours a week at our studio, working on technique and performance. This means instructors really get to know their students. They know their personalities and strengths and weaknesses. They know what they need to become well-rounded, confident members of society, and they want to encourage dancers to be the best they can be, inside and outside of the studio.
Often times it’s hard for young people to approach a coach or a teacher for guidance outside of a lesson or coaching session. But I see young dancers coming to Kick Dance instructors for help with struggles at school, college applications and advice on personal issues. My instructors and I have formed bonds with our students that last into adulthood. Many come back to visit and also mentor our younger dancers.
This is just my reminder during this busy spring season to look to others in stressful times, encourage your children to do the same. As a community, we are all here for your children.
Kick Dance Studios
Grace is whole-heartedly into her game of Ms. PacMan at YESTERcades in Red Bank. Her dad Andy is watching, cheering her on. Nothing going on around them breaks their attention away from each other. The two are completely invested in the time they spend together. Grace time is precious time for Andy.
“We have very similar personalities,” said Andy. “We’re both outgoing and openly express ourselves. We talk a lot, and we talk about everything. We have a good time together no matter what we’re doing.”
Part of their intense bond comes from their time dancing together. Grace is a dancer at Kick Dance Studio. To say she loves to dance and perform would be an understatement.
“I love making other people happy,” said Grace. “I love to perform. I love to sing. I love to dance. I just love to feel the different types of music flow while I dance. It just makes me feel good and happy.”
In fact, Grace seems to be most comfortable when she’s entertaining family and friends. Putting on a show in her outgoing style.
“I especially love the holidays because it’s when all my family gets together and I perform for them,” said Grace. “Sometimes I sing, sometimes I dance, sometimes I do both.”
Andy and Grace have been dancing together since Grace was a baby, dad dancing daughter around before bed to lull her to sleep. And Andy and Grace are still dancing.
The father-daughter duo is dynamic. A force to be reckoned with on the dance floor. At the annual Kick Dance recital, daddy-daughter dances are a tradition, and Andy and Grace have participated for years. For the two of them, taking part in that tradition was a no-brainer.
“These dances are something Grace is going to remember,” said Andy. “I know by the look on her face that she’s happy and for me that’s everything.”
And it’s not just the day of the big dance that Andy and Grace will cherish.
“We just love it,” said Andy. “It’s not just that moment on the stage, but the time we spend practicing together. It’s that little thing you share together, just the two of you.”
Each year Andy and Grace take their dance to a new level, with Grace gaining confidence, going for bigger and bolder moves with her dad.
Spending time with Grace is Andy’s top priority. He spends three weeks a month on the road for work, so when he’s home, he’s with Grace.
“We’ve been buddies from day one,” said Andy of the tight bond the two share. “I give her my energy when I’m with her and in turn she gives me back that same energy, always including me in her life.”
Grace is at her happiest when she is performing, whether it’s on stage for an audience, at Kick Dance with her friends, or at home for her family. On stage, Andy sees a kid who has confidence through the roof. Some of that is innate. Some of that is dance.
“Grace isn’t shy,” said Andy. “When she was four or five she wanted to do a solo. She wasn’t ever scared and had the biggest smile on her face.”
And Andy attributes a big part of that confidence to her involvement in Kick Dance.
“Kick has given her challenges to overcome,” said Andy. “Those challenges have helped her become more athletic and flexible. Her physical confidence has sky rocketed.”
Confidence isn’t the only thing that Grace has gained from dancing at Kick.
“She’s an only child and it’s a great opportunity for her to be around other kids,” said Andy. “She’s made such great friends by being at Kick Dance.”
There’s no doubt that Andy is Grace’s biggest supporter and cheerleader.
“I’m so proud of her,” he said. “I can see how Kick has helped her success now and will help her in the future. These are the character building blocks every kid needs and doing dance all these years has been great for her.”
Grace’s face lights up when her dad walks into a room, but Andy’s lights up even brighter when he sees Grace in her element, dancing, performing and being her outgoing and confident self.
See Grace’s outgoing personality in action in this video:
Photos by Purelee Photography
Olivia Brown was the first to greet her new sister the night she arrived. It was the beginning of a sisterly bond that has only grown stronger with time.
When Bree was 1-year-old, she was adopted by Gary Brown and Lee Clay of Fair Haven. Olivia, who was 14 at the time, remembers the day the family got the phone call that Bree was coming to be a part of their family.
“I was so excited, but nervous and anxious,” said Olivia.
Gary and Lee knew they wanted to open their home to another child after having their three kids, Olivia, now 25, Riley, 23, and Lloyd, 20. They worked with the state, went through the adoption process, and waited.
“Once Bree came to us, she was just immediately a part of our family,” said Lee.
No one knew just how much Bree and Olivia would have in common that night the two sisters met at the family’s Fair Haven home, but the two are forever bonded.
And that bond is strongly tied to dance.
Olivia began dancing when she was in second grade. She was one of the original Kick Dance Studio dancers. Vanessa Berry, owner and instructor at Kick Dance, was renting studio space, just starting out in her business.
Olivia and her friends took a hip hop class every Friday. Those classes turned into competitions as class sizes increased and Kick Dance began to grow into its own.
Olivia was an original part of the Kick Dance Studio family.
“I remember when Vanessa got married and had Sadie and Henry,” said Olivia. “We were like a family. We even threw Vanessa a baby shower when she was pregnant with Sadie.”
Olivia even worked at Kick Dance for three years in high school, helping the smallest dancers in the classroom and working at the front desk.
Now, Bree is following in her big sister’s footsteps, taking classes at Kick. (In fact, Bree’s two other siblings even took classes at Kick Dance at some point in their lives.)
Bree began dancing at Kick when she was in kindergarten, and is still at the studio today, taking acro and lyrical dance.
“I’m good at acrobatics and I took gymnastics,” said Bree. “I like that I’m learning skills and using acro to get better at other kinds of dances.”
She’s so into acro that Miss Deidre, the acro instructor at Kick, said Bree has the most flexible back she’s ever seen. That flexibility has helped Bree master her front walk over, and aided her in working to conquer the back handspring.
In fact, during Bree’s interview as she proudly talked about her flexibility, she demonstrated her chin stand in her living room floor, a place where she and Olivia have spent countless hours dancing together.
That very chin stand was the source of extreme pride for Bree, after Vanessa praised her and encouraged her to keep practicing and to never give up. Once she perfected her chin stand, Vanessa was the most excited. A true testament to the family atmosphere that exists at Kick.
“Vanessa has always been totally supportive of everything the girls have done,” said Lee. “Besides the dance side of things, she’s been an unbelievable role model for them in the business world. She’s never been stagnant; she’s always looking for ways to better the studio. The sky is really the limit for her.”
After Olivia graduated from the University of Kentucky, she joined the Peace Corps and was stationed in West Africa for 26 months. She worked in remote villages as a health development agent, educating the community on hygiene, malaria prevention, nutrition and child and maternal health.
Being apart for so long was difficult for the sisters, but frequent phone calls and even a visit to Africa by the family helped ease the distance. When Bree was chosen to perform as Belle in an acro performance, she immediately called Olivia in Africa and gave her the good news.
“I feel proud that I’m doing something my siblings did,” said Bree. “When Olivia was in Africa I used to watch her old dance tapes to try to follow what she did.”
Now that Olivia is back in Fair Haven, the two sisters have been spending time together, often practicing Bree’s dance routines. And what better teacher than a sister who went through the same thing?
“Having them be a part of Kick has been such a great experience,” said Lee. “They’ve learned life-long skills, like working with a group and succeeding, and also learning to deal with setbacks and carrying on.”
Bree recently performed in the Kick for a Cause Event, an annual charity show Kick Dance puts on to raise money for a charity they pick each year. Even though Bree has performed in front of an audience before, the 12-year-old still gets a little nervous at times. But this time, without Bree having to say a word, her Kick Dance friend Grace Lehman, who will be featured in an upcoming blog, was by her side.
“Grace was a big role model for me,” said Bree. “She gave me a high five and told me it was going to be ok.”
Kick dancers always have each other’s backs.
Bree and family are no stranger to charity work like Kick for a Cause.
Lee volunteers at Asbury Park’s Covenant House, and the family raises money for the organization. Lee is currently helping to organize A Night of Future Broadway Stars for the organization, an event that is a combination of Broadway stars and outstanding Monmouth County stars, mixing singing and dancing. The event is April 14 at 7 p.m. at Rumson Fair Haven High School.
As Olivia passed the proverbial Kick Dance torch to her youngest sister, she physically handed down her Kick Dance sweatshirt to Bree. A symbol of the unbreakable bond shared between the sisters, that grows stronger by the day.
Photos by Purelee Photography
He’s got rhythm. He’s got balance. He’s got the beat. And most of all, he’s got confidence.
Eight-year-old Henry Berry plays soccer and baseball and takes guitar and karate lessons. That’s a busy schedule for a youngster, and it takes a tremendous amount of focus and passion to be that active at 8 years old.
Henry learned discipline early on from his time taking dance classes at Kick Dance Studios, where he started dancing at 2. We should mention that Henry’s mother is Vanessa Berry, owner of the dance studio, so dance was in Henry’s blood from day one. Or earlier if you ask Vanessa, who often felt Henry move around in her belly when pregnant.
Henry is able to focus and succeed in all his extracurricular activities because of the tremendous self-confidence that dance has instilled in him.
“Henry’s level of confidence has sky rocketed,” said Vanessa. “It’s amazing to see him so confident when performing on stage.”
And that confidence has carried over into other aspects of Henry’s life.
“He’s so confident in the classroom, on the playground, in sports and at karate,” said Vanessa.
In fact, Henry’s dōjō commented on his great balance and conditioning. And his guitar teacher noticed Henry’s ear for timing and rhythm. All of these are skills Henry picked up in dance.
The 8-year-old is a social butterfly, especially during dance classes. He looks forward to being on a team with the other boys at the studio, but Henry feels at home in any group.
“I get along with everyone,” said Henry.
Henry is just as comfortable in a big group of dancers as he is performing a solo in front of an audience. It’s this kind of self-confidence that has made Henry up for anything.
During the photoshoot for Kick Dance Studio’s 15th anniversary celebration at Small Factory Productions in Fair Haven, it took no time at all until Henry was up on a table, jumping sky high with a huge grin on his face for the camera. His confidence shining through each second. The kid is comfortable in his skin.
Dance has taught Henry to listen and follow directions, which are vital skills to have when performing solos or dancing in a group.
“His retention is excellent,” said Vanessa. “It’s just you out there, and it’s a huge responsibility to remember the steps and the movements.”
And Henry is loving it. In fact, Henry loves all aspects of dancing.
We asked Henry to pick a favorite kind of dance, but he couldn’t do it.
“I really like them all,” said Henry. “I like all the different styles, they’re all so fun.”
Whether it’s breakdancing with the hip hop group or practicing ballet in a room full of girls, Henry genuinely loves all kinds of dance.
“He’s just totally comfortable in every kind of situation,” said Vanessa.
There can be a lot of pressure being the son of a dance studio owner, but Henry embraced his role and has blossomed into a great dancer, full of confidence and self-assurance.
As Kick Dance Studios celebrates its 15th anniversary, we’ll be featuring some of our dancers, like Henry, and the personal stories that make them unique.
Photos by Purelee Photography
Maggie Martin thinks her mom is strong. Her mom Kristen thinks her daughter is strong. We think they’re both strong.
At 14, Maggie has had to learn lessons that some adults never will. According to Kristen, she’s had to grow up quickly.
“She’s learned compassion and how to really help people,” said Kristen.
Kristen was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) 16 years ago. Maggie is her biggest fan and supporter, always worried that she’s ok.
“She brushes my hair and massages my feet,” said Kristen. “Even the things I can do myself she’ll do for me.”
But when Maggie is in her happy place, all those concerns melt away, and that’s the way Kristen wants it. Her happy place is Kick Dance Studios.
“When I’m a Kick, I’m in the zone,” said Maggie. “It’s such a freeing atmosphere. It makes my heart feel free.”
Maggie has been dancing at Kick Dance for six years, taking contemporary, jazz, hip hop and musical theater. During the photo shoot for Kick Dance Studio’s 15th anniversary celebration, Maggie’s grace and poise radiated through the entire studio. She moved elegantly between her position and her mother sitting in a nearby chair, always checking on her, keeping an eye out. While getting her mom situated in the chair, Kristen commented on Maggie’s strength.
“She’s so strong!,” said Kristen.
“I get it from you, mom,” Maggie replied softly.
We whole-heartedly agree.
Dancing at Kick has helped Maggie hone that incredible physical strength. But it’s done something for Maggie’s emotional strength that no one could have imagined. It’s given her a mentor to turn to when things get rough. A mentor, that like Maggie’s mom, has MS.
Michelle Tolson lives and breathes dance and performing. Dancing since she was little, Michelle went on to become Miss New Hampshire, a contestant in the Miss America Pageant, and a Rockette for six years. But her passion is teaching.
“I’ve taught dance since I was 16,” said Michelle. “l started teaching out of a garage, and I continue to teach at Kick and Wagner College in New York.”
Michelle was diagnosed with MS in 2014, but that diagnosis isn’t allowed to affect her dance life. About this she is adamant.
“I do this because it’s not a dance studio, it’s a family,” said Michelle, who drives two hours each Saturday to teach at Kick’s studio in Rumson. Michelle teaches solos, jazz, tap, lyrical, hip hop, ballet and co-teaches advanced dance.
Michelle and Maggie have a bond. A bond so firmly rooted in strength that it would be impossible to break.
“I hope I can be as positive and wonderful a role model for Maggie as her mom is,” said Michelle.
In Michelle, Maggie sees a different face of the disease. Kristen and Michelle are in different stages of MS, so it looks different to the outside world.
“She’s watched her mom power through when there wasn’t the medication there is now,” said Michelle. “She has such a positive attitude; you’d never know she was sick.”
Dance motivates Maggie to be the best she can be and really focus on what she loves. And she does it about 12 hours a week. That’s dedication.
Each year, Kick Dance Studios picks a charity to support with their annual performance showcasing new dances. Two years ago they chose the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Maggie performed a lyrical dance to a song called “Cry” and dedicated it to her mom. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
“It was such an emotional experience,” said Kristen. “She danced that dance throughout several competitions and it always meant so much.”
Watching Kristen and Maggie together is a special treat. It’s obvious where Maggie gets her funny and witty personality, and it’s clear that Kristen is extremely proud of her daughter. During the photo shoot, Maggie looked at her mom and grinned a grin full of admiration and love. Mom looked back with pride, seeing her daughter in her element and full of strength.
Michelle joined Maggie and Kristen for their photos, highlighting the special bond the three share. While getting Kristen in her chair, she joked “It might take a village,” to which Michelle responded, “Well, you’ve got one.”
The strength that emanates when the three are in the same room is inspiring and humbling. Three strong women, in different stages of their lives, coming together in strength.
Photos by Purelee Photography
Sadie Rose Marino’s got it. And she’s only five.
Sadie rides horses and takes Taekwondo. But her passion lies in dance. Jazz, tap, ballet, even hip hop. Did we mention that Sadie is only five? She has more interests than most adults.
Sadie didn’t always take to dancing. In fact, when she started at age two and a half she would only participate as an observer.
“She always danced at home so we thought having her take dance classes would be something she’d like,” said her mother, Min. “But the first few classes she just watched.”
But Sadie persevered and stuck with dance. She went from being shy and observing classes, to the star of the show. And she loves it. And not only that, she’s good at it.
“Dance just makes me happy,” said Sadie, whose favorite dance wardrobe combination is a tutu, motorcycle jacket and pink Ray-Bans.
Sadie learned to love dance at Kick Dance Studios in Rumson, where she’s made friends and really connected with the instructors.
“I’m friends with everyone!” said Sadie, the huge smile on her face evidence of her delight.
The five-year-old has taken jazz, tap and ballet, and has her sights set on hip hop next. But what is it about hip hop that has Sadie so intrigued?
“It’s so exciting and fun,” said Sadie.
We can’t argue with that.
Sadie can even do the splits, and is part of Kick Dance’s banana split club (three splits and you get a prize). Although, Sadie does admit that doing the splits is the hardest thing about dancing. Who can disagree?
Dance has most certainly benefitted Sadie in other aspects of her young life. Her Taekwondo instructor says she has great form, balance and coordination, better than some students who have been taking classes longer than Sadie. That’s the dance shining through.
But the biggest indication that dance has transformed Sadie’s life? Her self-confidence.
“At Sadie’s first performance at Count Basie Theater, she froze in front of the big audience,” said Min. “Now, being on stage is routine for her and doesn’t bother her one bit.”
Forty percent of adults say that have a fear of speaking or performing in front of others. Sadie conquered that fear before the age of five.
Kick Dance Studios has provided Sadie with an outlet for her personality and creativity to shine, giving her the instructors to guide her through the process and an environment nurturing to a young dancer’s needs. Sadie is learning what she likes and what she loves. She’s making friends and finding her personality. She’s building her self-confidence and learning dance techniques.
“Kick Dance is so great because it has that small, warm feeling,” said Min. “It’s really a tight-knit community and it’s great for Sadie because it’s not as formal at this age the dancers can really express their personalities. As Sadie progresses she’ll be able to focus on technique and form.”
Kick Dance Studios is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, and we’ll be featuring some of our dancers, like Sadie, and the personal stories that make them unique.
Photos by Purelee Photography
Fifteen years of tutus and sparkles, competitions and trophies, costumes and choreography. Fifteen years of watching kids make their dreams come true in classrooms every day. Fifteen years of watching hard work pay off. Fifteen years of tiny dancers in big tutus experiencing the first day of dance, then falling in love. Fifteen years of tears at graduation and fingers crossed they come back to visit. Fifteen years of teamwork and friendships that last a lifetime. Fifteen years of dance moms watching their dancers’ amazing accomplishments. Fifteen years of entrepreneurship and striving to make the studio the best it can be. Fifteen years of recitals and a year’s worth of teaching on display on the Count Basie stage. Fifteen summers full of amazing camps and plans for a bigger, better following season. Fifteen years of sharing the art and passion for dance with countless kids, building confidence with each step. It has been an amazing 15 years and the best is yet to come! Here are 15 reasons we’re celebrating this milestone anniversary:
Community Counts. Kick Dance makes giving back to the community a priority, encouraging community outreach and community service from its dancers. This fosters students to become great people, on and off the stage. Each year, the studio chooses a charity to work with, and all proceeds from fundraising efforts support that organization. The studio has worked with StrongMom.org, Project Write Now, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Monmouth Beach Elementary School, All Fur Love Animal Rescue, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.
Friendship is Forever. Good friends are irreplaceable. Having someone to love, support and get you through the tough times just makes life easier. For children, making new friends comes much more easily when surrounded by other children who have a similar interest. At Kick Dance Studios, students certainly have one thing in common — DANCE! The friendships made during classes and performances are often lifelong ones, and the bonds created make for strong and fluid performances.
Family is Foundation. Ask any Kick dancer or instructor and they’ll tell you their favorite part about being at the studio: FAMILY! Kick Dance Studios is a home away from home for all, and the love and support is obvious just walking in the door. This quote from a Kick dancer sums it all up: “Being at Kick is the best feeling in the world. It’s a joy that I don’t get at any other place, and when I’m there, I don’t want to be anywhere else.” – Jessie Boak, 17
Technique and Talent. Being a dancer at Kick is about having tons of fun, but it’s also about learning proper technique and form. Kick offers a wide variety of Dance, Acro, Musical Theater, and Vocal classes for all ages and abilities. It is our goal to provide the highest quality training while developing a love for the arts. Kick Dancers hone their skills through practice, then show off what they’ve learned at recitals and competitions.
Inspiring Instructors. Kick Dance instructors are the heart and soul of what we do. Without them we’d be lost. We have musical theater experts, classically-trained ballet dancers, jazz and tap pros, and even a former Rockette on staff. You can tell these teachers know their stuff, and they have a passion and love for what they do that resonates with each and every student. Their real-life experience translates into life lessons for our dancers.
Activities Abound. Kick offers so many different classes it will make your head spin… in a good way. Traditional ballet training is the foundation for all great dancing, and at Kick it’s taught at a quick pace to keep our dancers moving and focused. There are no limits to choreography and expression in our contemporary classes, which blend ballet, jazz, lyrical and modern techniques. Jazz is all about the rhythm, featuring the sounds of the oldies, pop, funk, soul and more. Tap makes our hearts light and happy, and dancers develop rhythm, coordination and balance. Hip hop is high-energy and suitable for all ages. Acro lets dancers tumble and flip, with cartwheels, back bends, walkovers, chest stands, back handsprings, back tucks, layouts and aerials. Trust us, no one is ever bored at Kick!
Cultivating Confidence. Our dancers go beyond technique to develop important life skills, learning to be respectful, confident and conscientious young people who share their gifts and talents with the community. We focus on both personal development and teamwork to make our dancers the best the can be.
Team Togetherness. We teach dance to make great kids! That’s why our team programs are focused on compassion, teamwork, commitment and life skills. Kick’s competition team allows dancers with a passion for performing the opportunity to showcase their talents. We’ve performed at Walt Disney World, ABC TV, Madison Square Garden and many other places! Team Kick has won numerous awards at both the regional and national levels.
Forget Failure. From failure comes learning, and often success. We teach our dancers to practice and try their hardest, all while having fun and making lifelong friendships. Our dancers support their peers and are there to lift them up when times get tough. It’s the Kick Dance way.
Mentors Matter. Our instructors become mentors for Kick dancers, and that’s evident in the passion and heart they put into each and every class they teach. Our mentors are dedicated to serving our students, not only in teaching technique, but guiding dancers through life’s challenges and being there, in the good and the bad.
Overcome Obstacles. Dance is an excellent outlet for young dancers to put life’s stress behind them and focus on something positive and affirming. Not only does dance provide many health benefits, such as increased flexibility and muscle strength, it also helps improve mental clarity and lowers stress. The dancers at Kick Dance Studios have incredible dedication and can do anything when they put their minds to it!
Fostering Fitness. Team sports like soccer, baseball and football keep children in shape and active, but what about when those sports are out of season? Dance provides the ideal activity for children to build strength and stay in shape until they’re ready to play ball again. Many professional athletes attest to the benefits of dancing, like 320-pound Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon, who has been taking ballet since his senior year of college as a way to keep himself injury-free, and he attributes dance with strengthening his knees, ankles and feet.
Showing Support. When a Kick dancer is down, fellow Kick dancers lift them up and help to rise above any challenge. With supportive students and instructors, Kick dancers can do anything. Students at Kick not only support each other when the going gets tough, they support their community. With so many people in need, Kick is always ready to lend a hand and support the community they so proudly are a part of.
Models of Modesty. Kick’s top priority is that kids will be kids. In a world where children grow up too fast, Kick prides itself on age-appropriate music and costumes. We believe in preserving childhood and that children can learn self-respect and love the skin they are in when allowed to be kids. Our program goes above and beyond to encourage positive body image so children can love who they are and feel free to be themselves. We teach and model modesty, teamwork and positive body image.
Broadway Bound. Kick teaches dancers to reach for the skies and dream big, that’s why dancer’s interested in ultimately performing on Broadway’s big stage have the opportunity to learn and prepare right in the Kick Dance Studio. We pride ourselves on making our dancers triple threats, because the performer who can sing, dance and act can’t be stopped. Kick’s acting, vocal and musical theater and performance-based classes provide a supportive, non-competitive atmosphere for young dancers to bloom. Kick dancers have had opportunities to see Broadway shows in preview, as well as get up close and personal with a real-life Rockette. These brushes with Broadway are a great way for our dancers to imagine the endless possibilities dancing provides for themselves.
As Kick Dance Studios celebrates its big 15, we’ll be featuring some of our dancers and the personal stories that make them unique. Check out our first dancer profile on Sadie Marino here, and stay tuned for more inspiring dancer stories!
Photos by Purelee Photography
Sweet Words From Our Friends on Facebook
Congratulations Vanessa Berry and Kick Dance Studios on 15 great years! We’re proud to work with you! Hulafrog: Red Bank, NJ
It was a privilege to be a part of it! Thank YOU Vanessa! Polly Wardell
Happy Dancerversary! Susie Danzig
Happy anniversary. So happy to be a part of the Kick family! Michelle Tolson
Congratulations Vanessa!!! You are such a huge inspiration to so many!!!! Alicia Knopps
Congratulations on 15 Vanessa and family!!! The love of Kick really shines thru from you as well as the teachers and students! Keep up the awesome work! Min Hur Marino
Congratulations! Our girls love Kick and all the instructors – thank you for providing a fantastic program. Matthew Scoble
Vanessa, You are my children’s mentor, my best friend and our family. I’m amazed that you can juggle some many things at once and always remain smiling and professional. You are an excellent role model and a kind, sweet soul. Elizabeth Dipaolo
Congratulations!! Wishing you many more years of success! So many great life lessons learned through dance! Cathy White Alescio
Congratulations! We all love being a part of the Kick family. There is nothing like it. Starr De Angelis
Congratulations Vanessa! 15 years…wow! My girls and I are thrilled to be part of the Kick family. Nancy Longo Mazzei
Thank you for giving Cristina and our family many years of love, confidence, talent, fun, and forever friendships. We will never forget how important Kick Dance Studio was to her life. Congrats Vanessa & many more to come. Diane Dafonte
That is so amazing!! Congratulations!! You gave my daughter the most amazing gift of confidence, how to work for her passion, gift of great friends and gave her a safe and fun place to go and do what she loves most. You are an amazing teacher! You gave her the gift of dance…..truly what you have given her is so priceless…I will be forever grateful for you and for Kick dance studio! Melissa Harris
Happy Anniversary!! Happy to be part of it for NINE years! Kaitlyn Kurkemelis
Congratulations, Vanessa- here’s to many more wonderful years positively touching children’s lives! Samantha Maguire Zaleski
Holy cow!!! I had the pleasure and privilege to be a part of the Kick family and experience for 7 amazing years before I moved across the country (and the earlier years of the studio! I think 2004-2011?). And not a day goes by where I’m not only proud to see the progress of the studio and dancers here on Facebook, but where I genuinely miss being a part of the excitement and accomplishments of amazing families (you know who you are). Kick will always have a very special place in my heart!! Congrats and cheers to the beginning of 15 more!! Alyson Christine
Congratulations Vanessa…. So many of our greatest memories and friendships were created at Kick. Heather Cheney Kaiman
My girls love being a part of the Kick family! Vanessa you know I have marveled for years at your uncanny ability to find a place for everyone to shine their best! I love that both of my girls have been inspired to try new things because you have believed in them and pushed them! Congratulations on this milestone! Debi Sanfilippo Demcsak
Congratulations Vanessa! As a parent of a Kick graduate (who began with you when she was in 1st grade & danced with you for 11 years), I want to say THANK YOU for being a wonderful role model and offering a place where youth can dance and move in a positive, developmentally appropriate manner. Here’s to 15 more successful years! Liz DeBeer
Congratulations Vanessa! I wonder if you knew 15 years ago that Kick would become so much more to girls than a place to learn dance. Here’s how I would describe it. A community where girls would be able to become who they really were meant to be in an incredibly supportive environment and make true lifelong friends. That’s what kick was to Sydney Ringer. I can’t even imagine life without it. A big thank you and lots of love! Kristi Bridges
Congratulations!! What an accomplishment!! Emily loves every minute she is there!!! Estelle D Ketterer
The holidays came early for residents of the Atrium at Navesink Harbor retirement community in Red Bank. Dancers from Kick Dance Studios in Fair Haven and Rumson visited the community December 12 to perform a variety of dances, including the holiday favorite, The Nutcracker.
“It’s really fun and it feels good to perform for the residents,” said Christina Alescio, 13. “It’s exciting to perform The Nutcracker since everyone knows it,” said Stella Demcsak, 13.
Amanda Pyne, an instructor at Kick Dance, choreographed the dance for The Nutcracker. “It’s good for them to do something different,” she said. “The Nutcracker is a tradition at the holidays.”
“It’s so nice to have young people here at the holidays,” said Iris Hinchman, a resident of the Atrium. “I love The Nutcracker and the girls did such a great job.”
Kick dancers are getting in the holiday spirit NYC style. Dancers from our advanced team were invited to rock out with Jesse Swim from Broadway’s new blockbuster show, School of Rock, and will soon tap to the holiday beat with Radio City Music Hall’s Rockette. You can just imagine our dancers’ excitement when we told them the exciting news that they were going to dance their hearts out with these world-class performers.
School of Rock, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s newest Broadway musical, is based on the popular movie with Jack Black. It’s chock full of high-energy dance numbers. Through a special guest dance program started by Kick’s Owner Vanessa Berry, students had the unique opportunity to visit Pearl Street Studios where School of Rock’s Jesse Swim taught them ‘Stick It To The Man’, a show-stopping number from the musical. After the students rocked out with Jesse, they were in for a special treat. The group experienced the full red carpet treatment with a School of Rock special preview! Seeing the show as an unfinished product, from rehearsal to performance, allowed the dancers to fully appreciate and experience what it takes to put on a Broadway show.
“I know that when I was a kid in the theater getting to work with the “pros” on anything was that little extra I needed to get me to where I am today,” said Jesse. “To hear what is really happening on stage in that show, or any show for that matter, from someone who does it eight times a week is a valuable tool. It helps give you insight to what it takes to be professional and excel in this field.” Jesse said he loves guest teaching and even learns things about how he sees himself on stage when he teaches. “It helps me articulate in words what I am trying to convey every night,” he said. “It makes me a stronger performer and person.”
Kick dancers will also have the opportunity to get in the Christmas spirit during a three-hour master class with Rockette Michelle Tolson, a dancer from the precision dance company that blends modern dance and classic ballet based in New York City. Advanced dancers from Kick are invited to sign up for this ultimate Rockette experience on December 20. The day is complete with a trip to see the Rockettes perform at the famous Radio City Music Hall and a master class at the rehearsal studio where dancers will dance tap, jazz, ballet and more with the pros.
“The Rockettes experience is a great chance to grow as a dancer and to learn from professionals,” Kristen Martin, dance mother of Maggie, age 13. “It’s great that she’ll be able to see some of the available opportunities that exist for her in the future.”
Maggie has been dancing for six years and loves the friendly atmosphere and the strong bond she and the other dancers have with the Kick Dance instructors. The opportunity to train with a professional dancer is a dream come true for Maggie.
“She just continues to grow as a dancer at Kick,” said Kristen. “She’s in great physical shape and that translates into other activities.”
Kick Dance students are thriving in their advanced team classes, so much so that Vanessa is already planning another Broadway musical preview team outing for the spring.
Other exciting winter workshops at Kick Dance Studios include:
Musical Theater Workshops:
School of Rock, ages 7-14
Monday, December 28, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., Rumson Studio
The Wiz, ages 5-11
Wednesday, December 30, 9 a.m. -12 p.m., Rumson Studio
Miss Katie leads these two fun-filled Musical Theater workshops featuring songs and dances from Broadway shows. Performance at the end of each fun-filled morning.
Ages 4-8 (all levels)
Tuesday, December 29, 9:15-10:00 a.m., Rumson Studio
Ages 9 and up (experienced dancers only)
Tuesday, December 29, 10 -11 a.m., Rumson Studio
Join Radio City Rockette Miss Michelle Tolson and learn how the Rockettes perform those amazing Kicklines.
‘Tis the season for giving, and here at Kick Dance Studios we’re giving back to the community by doing what we do best – having fun with friends!
We are continuing our annual tradition of creating Thanksgiving food baskets to help local families in need. And new this year, we’re inviting T-Swift fans to a dance off and Lego build in our new Fair Haven studio, where all money raised supports our local community. There’s so much to feel good about at Kick and we’re calling on our dancers, their families and friends to join us as we shine merry and bright throughout the holiday season.
Holiday Happenings at Kick
Join us from 2-4 p.m. for a Black Friday, Nov. 26 Shop-N-Drop Party at our Fair Haven dance studio located at 611 River Road. Ages 4-11 are welcome to shake it off to the tunes of Taylor Swift with a dance-off, complete with costumes and prizes. If T-Swift isn’t your child’s jam? Sign them up for the Lego build off. This activity is perfect for both boys and girls. The event is $25 per dancer; $50 per family. All proceeds benefit the Life Guard Ecumenical Foundation (LGEF). To register, click here and sign up under special events.
Kick Dance is also proud to help LGEF with our annual tradition of creating baskets full of Thanksgiving food to give to local families in need. Collection boxes are located at each
Kick Studio, and those interested in helping can drop items off from 3-6 p.m., Monday through Friday, during the week of November 16. Items needed include grocery store gift cards, boxed stuffing and mashed potatoes, canned cranberry sauce, canned vegetables, canned yams, turkey gravy, pasta/rice, applesauce, apple juice, cookies, dinner rolls, apple pies and pancake mix.
Please also mark your calendar for our December 19, 4 p.m. MiniCracker Ballet performance in our Rumson studio. Our dancers can’t wait to entertain you for a good cause. Admission is a canned good or other food donation for the Red bank charity, LunchBreak.
About Our Holiday Charity Partner, Life Guard Ecumenical Foundation (LGEF)
Founded in 2009 in our very own backyard by a group of neighbors in Fair Haven, the nonprofit Life Guard Ecumenical Foundation (LGEF) raises awareness of those around us that are in need of assistance. Just as a lifeguard sits on his stand and actively searches for those in need, such is the purpose of LGEF.
LGEF has helped more than 80 families through organized events such as neighborhood barbecues and yard sales that have raised funds for food gift cards, overdue utility bills, excessive medical bills, and expensive life-dependent medications. This amazing charity is right in step with the needs of our community, and Kick is ready to dance, donate and collect food throughout the holidays to support LGEF’s inspiring mission.
“I’m always looking for ways to get more involved in our community so a charity that is about keeping an eye out for community members who need help is a perfect fit,” said Vanessa Berry, owner and instructor at Kick Dance Studios. “It’s a charity our dancers can understand and help.”
Helping Those in Need
Life Guard Ecumenical Foundation knows you don’t have to travel far to find families who are facing severe economic hardships. Each day, families in our area have to make the gut-wrenching decision to sacrifice paying a utility bill to put food on the table or make rent.
Mary was a Superstorm Sandy victim, living in motels after the storm with her two children, ages 2 and 4. A single mom who worked full-time and received no support, she saved enough money to rent an apartment, but found she couldn’t get her electricity turned on because of an outstanding bill. Mary used all of her savings for the rent and security to move into her new apartment. Life Guard Ecumenical Foundation helped Mary pay her overdue balance so she could have electricity in her new home with her children.
Eight-year-old Tommy woke up one day and couldn’t move his legs. It took a week in the hospital to determine he had a bacterial infection that could be treated, but he would need physical therapy to rehabilitate his body. His mom needed time off work to help him recuperate, but her job didn’t provide paid leave and the family relied on her paycheck. LGEF provided funds to help them with the hospital bills and groceries, easing the financial burden.
Each month, LGEF finds a local family in need and hosts a fundraising event to help that family. But they do more than donate monetarily. They volunteer time, skills and resources with the hope of spreading the spirit of giving, encouraging others to help community members in need.
“Life Guard Ecumenical Foundation is beyond grateful to be Team Kick’s charity for this season,” said Tori McAndrews, Board Member of Life Guard Ecumenical Foundation.
To learn how you can help support local families with LGEF, visit www.lifeguardnj.org.
To register for our special events to benefit LGEF, click here.
Being a part of Kick Dance Studios is more than just great dancing. Literally.
Kick Dance Studios is part of a group called More Than Just Great Dancing, an organization made up of dance studios around the nation focused on making a positive impact on dance students and the community. In fact, Kick Dance was one of 15 founding members of the organization, started in 2012, and is the only dance studio accredited by More Than Just Great Dancing in Central New Jersey.
“In addition to our network, we have live events to share and learn from each other,” said Vanessa Berry, owner and instructor at Kick Dance Studios. “We share both business and curriculum information, while learning customer service best practices.”
But More Than Just Great Dancing has an even wider reach, encouraging community outreach, community service, and fostering and nurturing dance students to become great people, on and off stage.
“Kick Dance joined More Than Just Great Dancing to have a network of like-minded studio owners dedicated to elevating our industry and preserving childhood,” said Vanessa Berry.
And that’s precisely the mission of More Than Just Great Dancing — to raise the bar for dance studio education, and to honor, support and recognize the studios who desire to offer age-appropriate education for dancers growing up in a complex world.
Community service and outreach is a big theme at More Than Just Great Dancing, and something Vanessa and her instructors take very seriously. Each year the studio chooses a new charity to work with, and all proceeds support that organization.
This year, Kick Dance raised $10,000 for StrongMom.org, an organization supporting one mother’s battle with colon cancer, and Project Write Now, a group offering writing classes and workshop experiences to children, teens, and adults in Red Bank, NJ.
Two years ago, Kick Dance chose to support the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society, and raised $8,500 with their annual “Kick for a Cause” performance on February 23. The charity was chosen to show support for a mother of one of Kick’s dance team students who has MS, a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system.
Other charitable efforts include raising money for Hurricane Sandy-damaged Monmouth Beach Elementary School, All Fur Love Animal Rescue, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.
“Our annual charity show has raised over $80,000 so far,” said Vanessa. “We also are very involved with our local schools. Right now I am teaching K-3 a Halloween flash mob dance to perform for the parents at the annual costume parade.”
This year, Kick Dance is standing up to bullying with the help of More Than Just Great Dancing. The organization is sponsoring a “Define Yourself” campaign to raise awareness about October’s National Bullying Prevention Month. The idea is for teenage dance students to start a movement to shed labels and define themselves by who they are and not how others define them.
“At More Than Dancers, we believe you are more than just a dancer,” said Misty Lown, founder of More Than Just Great Dancing. “You are a sister, a brother, an athlete, a student, a volunteer, a person of faith, etc. And you are even more than that! You are a person of worth and value simply because you are you. You are uniquely gifted and already have everything inside of you to reach your dreams!”
Kick Dance Studios is one of the first dance studios to support this anti-bullying movement, asking its dancers to fill in this sentence: I will be more than a dancer, I will be ______. Students may say “a positive influence to others,” “a good friend to everyone,” or “a person who tries my best.” The answers are limitless and are meant to remind us all that there is more to us than meets the eye. The campaign revolves around the fact that we all dance to a different beat and that we shouldn’t let others define us.
More Than Just Great Dancing and Kick Dance Studios are committed to excellence, both in the classroom and in the community. The close-knit group has proven to be a great resource and learning experience for Vanessa, her instructors, and the studio as a whole. For more information, visit www.morethanjustgreatdancing.com.
Now ask yourself, how will you define you? Then fill in this sentence: I will be more than a great ______, I will be ________.
Photo 1: Vanessa Berry, More Than Just Great Dance founder, Misty Lown, and member Alicia Knopps. More Than Just Great Dancing provides dance studio owners with a knowledgeable and dedicated network of like-minded business owners who know the business of dance.
Cover Photo: Kick Dance students Anna Ciardiello, 9 of Fair Haven, and Lauren Connoly, 9 of Little Silver, on stage after a community performance at Harvest Fest at Knollwood School in Fair Haven. Kick Dance Studios is a member of More Than Just Great Dancing, a group of dance studios focused on making a positive impact on dance students and the community.
“Things are never quite as scary when you have a best friend.” – Bill Watterson
It’s true. Good friends are irreplaceable. Having someone to love, support and get you through the tough times just makes life easier. Same is true for both children and adults.
For children, making new friends comes much more easily when surrounded by other children who have a similar interest. At Kick Dance Studios, students certainly have one thing in common — DANCE! The friendships made during classes and performances are often lifelong ones, and the bonds created make for strong and fluid performances.
“Team Kick provides dancers with the same team experiences that sports teams get — friendships, commitment, dedication, perseverance, and confidence,” said Vanessa Berry, Kick Dance Studios owner and instructor.
According to DanceTeachers.org, the number of children taking part in dance is increasing yearly. More children are enjoying its benefits, including increased self-esteem, confidence, activity levels, social and learning skills. The bonds that are made by engaging in an activity like dance can last a lifetime. Having friends is a vital part of growing up.
“Friendships are critical to helping children improve their communication, sharing, empathy, problem-solving, and creativity,” said Rachelle Theise, a clinical assistant professor and child psychologist at New York University, in a blog for Parents.com.
Nervous kids blossom, quiet kids find their voice, and shy kids come out of their shell at Kick Dance. As friendships grow, the way the students perform follows. Students learn how to dance together almost seamlessly, making for flawless and gorgeous performances.
The bond Kick Dance students have is evident in the long list of accomplishments and awards the teams have received. This summer, Kick dancer Claire Ciardiello attended the prestigious Broadway Center Junior Training Program, as well as three students, Christina Alesio, Stella Demcsak, and Sarah Landy, attended the Joffrey Ballet School Summer Program in New York City.
Students from Kick also danced their way into the national finals at the Backstage Performing Arts Competition at Hershey Park, Pennsylvania and came away with a first overall award, not to mention a handful of other wins.
It’s clear from these stellar accomplishments that the students are making a name for themselves across the region, and it’s no doubt in part to the rhythm the teams developed since becoming fast friends.
And the students continue to shine, dancing their way to performing in the well-known kids show KIDZ BOP KIDS, based off the albums of the same name featuring contemporary popular songs performed by kids. Kick Dance Studio dancers were selected as the opening act for the show. The KIDZ BOP KIDS performance will be held at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank at 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 8, 2015. Get tickets here.
“Kick Dance was chosen to open the show because of their enthusiasm,” said Alyssa Snyder, Marketing and PR Coordinator for KIDZ BOP. “Their family-friendly dance routines are very in line with the KIDZ BOP brand. Kick Dance’s routines are high-energy and will motivate the crowd for the KIDZ BOP Kids!”
“I think the teamwork among these kids shows on stage and is a big reason they were selected,” said Vanessa. “It is a wonderful experience to open for a professional show, and they could not be happier than when they perform together.”
From now until October 17, Kick Dance Studios is offering a friendship special! Bring a friend to a Try-It Class and be entered to win an Apple Watch Sport. Enroll in a class with a friend and you each receive a $50 class credit (New students only, cannot be enrolled in the past 12 months). For a list of Kick Dance Studio class, click here.
Sugar and spice and everything nice. We adore our young dancers at Kick. Little girls and boys as young as 18 months to 4 years old enjoy their first dance experience with us. They’re wide-eyed and eager to bounce to the beats and sway to the songs of Frozen. Sweet tutus with sparkles make us smile!
But….dance class can do more for your child than just help you to capture those adorable Instagram moments. When children experience the magic of dance class early in their developmental years, they build a base of fundamentals that carries them throughout life. Technically perfecting a child’s Plié or Pirouette is not our most important goal when they first start, instead we want them to gain a love of dance, develop strong bodies, confidence, and make life-long friends who share their passion for performing.
According to the National Dance Education Organization, dance is “basic to learning,” and provides a very natural method to learn expression and develop physical, emotional, and social skills. So it’s no surprise that starting children in dance at a young age can increase the benefits and skills learned.
“Dance is unique because it combines the cognitive benefits of learning an art, the auditory development of music education and the physical benefits of sports,” said Vanessa Berry, owner and instructor at Kick Dance. “Dance classes develop strength, flexibility, musicality, coordination, balance, self-esteem, listening skills and body awareness.”
Here are four reasons children should become involved in dance early on:
- Increased physical and cognitive development.
Children can flex their muscles and gain strength and endurance through dance. “For babies and toddlers, the creative movement offers a range of experiences that facilitate natural, easy play and proper development of movement, coordination and creates building blocks for future learning,” said Vanessa. This means the ideal time to get involved in dance is at a very early age. “For preschoolers, two and a half to four years old, dance is an essential part of the educational experience,” said Vanessa.
- Social skill development.
Dance not only improves physical development but helps to foster social skills as well. Through social encounters, interaction and cooperation, dance works to teach important life skills. “Dance allows children to learn how to work as a team, how to take turns, how to develop relationships, and how to follow directions,” said Vanessa. These skills are easier to learn at a young age, which is why it is important for children to become involved in dance early on.
- Increased self-esteem and confidence.
“Dance is amazing for self-esteem!” said Vanessa. “It allows for recognition of children both as an individual and as part of a team. It’s amazing to see the year-long development and learning from their first day of class to their first performance on stage.” By learning to become comfortable in their skin, young dancers can work to understand their bodies and often develop a more confident attitude. This confidence lasts a lifetime.
- Educational development.
By learning ballet early, children experience the foundation of dance, which can help maintain steady interest in dance for years to come. “We love to see our dancers learn this core foundation, as well as see them learn tap for rhythm and musicality, jazz for energy, and performance and creative movement for confidence, creativity and body awareness,” said Vanessa.
Kick Dance Studios combines styles into a few of their classes to allow for maximum growth. These classes include Tap-n-Twirl, blending tap and ballet, Shake-It-Up Hip Hop and Ballet Combo and Princess Ballet, blending classic ballet and princess fantasy.
Registration for classes is open now. Click here to register your young dancer today!
“All the world’s a stage…”
Shakespeare said it best. The world we live in is merely a stage and we are the performers. At Kick Dance Studios, we understand this better than anyone, which is why we pride ourselves in making our dancers triple threats. Because the performer who can sing, dance and act can’t be stopped.
Kick Dance Studios offers a variety of acting, vocal and musical theater and performance-based classes. These classes are for all ages and are provided in a supportive, non-competitive atmosphere where young dancers can bloom.
Katie Kurkemelis, one of our musical theater and vocal teachers, is the perfect fit for this genre of performing. She grew up in the performing arts world where her mother introduced her to musical theater at a young age.
“My favorite movie growing up was Fame. Enough said,” said Katie. “I performed in all of my high school shows and continued theater at Brookdale Community College and Axelrod Performing Arts Center.”
Katie fell in love with teaching and choreography, and found she had a knack for both. She headed down the teaching path and never looked back.
“I love sharing my passion with children,” she said. “It is most fulfilling.”
Studio owner Vanessa Berry and musical theater instructor, is proud of the work Kick’s dancers are doing with acting, vocal and dance training. She and the instructors work hard to develop well-rounded dancers with a variety of dance training.
“Musical theater teaches our dancers to connect on an emotional level with dance and performance,” said Vanessa. “Beautiful technique is important, but without performance and emotion there is no connection with the audience.”
That connection with the audience is what keeps Katie, known to her students as Miss Katie, in the performing world when she isn’t teaching. She still performs locally, last appearing in Rent with the Axelrod Performing Arts Center. What better teacher for Kick’s young dancers than someone who is continually learning the latest techniques and using those skills in the real world?
“Miss Katie really knows how to connect with kids of all ages and brings out the best in them,” said Vanessa.
The training in musical theater Kick Dance provides dancers includes vocal training, acting, and preparing for performances. Classes begin September 21 and half year options continue through December while full classes continue through May.
“Musical theater is one of the greatest outlets for a dancer to release energy,” said Katie. “Not only does the dancer need to show technical ability, they must capture different characters through the art of dancing, singing and acting.
Musical theater performing isn’t just about the technical ability of the dancer, it’s also about having fun and transporting yourself and your audience to a different world.
“Who doesn’t love to pretend to be someone they’re not? Who doesn’t love to sing? And who doesn’t love to dance?” said Katie. “The style of musical theater brings all of those wonderful things together!”
This triple threat performer is exactly what Kick Dance is preparing its dancers to become.
“Most auditions a child goes on, they will be asked to sing, dance and read,” said Katie. “Even the dancer in the back corner on a Broadway stage can sing! Becoming a triple threat takes time, but it is 100 percent possible with hard work, dedication, and lots of smiles. And pointed feet of course.”
Kick Dance Musical Theater Vocal Training is for ages 7-11 and 10-14. Children begin their training with vocal warm-ups and vocal techniques, and learn upbeat, pop-style Broadway style as well as more classical pieces. Other classes available include Improvisational Acting, Musical Theater Performance, Musical Theater Dance, Musical Theater Vocal Performance Competition Team, and a Triple Threat class.
Our musical theater dancers have won big at various competitions, including numerous first place wins and national wins.
Call our studio at 732-383-5301 for more information or register online.
Photo: Meredith Sheftel, 12, and Blaire Sheftel, 10, both of Rumson, perform during a musical theater production. Kick Dance Studios prepares dancers for acting, dancing, and vocalizing with musical theater performance classes taught by qualified, passionate instructors.
The famous Joffrey Ballet School in New York City prides itself in turning passionate dance students into versatile and individualistic artists, and there’s no one group of students more passionate about dance than the dancers at Kick Dance Studios. This passion got three of the studios dancers accepted into the Joffrey Ballet School Summer intensive program in New York City.
Christina Alesio, Stella Demcsak, and Sarah Landy, all 13 of Fair Haven, spent hours and hours preparing for their auditions to the school. Each had private sessions at Kick Dance Studios to focus on their technique before the big audition. They worked one-on-one with Amanda Pyne, a Kick Dance instructor who attended the Joffrey Ballet School as a year-round trainee.
“Kick Dance Studio physically and mentally prepared me for the Joffrey Ballet School experience,” said Christina.
All the prep paid off for the dancers, who were accepted into the highly-competitive summer intensive program. There, they took classes in both new and familiar dance styles taught by professional dancers from different companies from around the world. Not everything was new for the girls at the Joffrey Ballet School, who had been exposed to different genres of dance from professional dancers teaching master classes at Kick Dance Studios over the years. The techniques they learned in those master classes prepared them well for the kind of things they learned at Joffrey.
“We got more out of Joffrey Ballet School than just the dance experience,” said Stella. “We danced a minimum of six hours every day. Joffrey pushed us to new levels that we didn’t think we could achieve.”
The Joffrey program exposes students to a rigorous ballet program, ending with a performance that illustrates the styles and techniques learned.
But the dancers from Kick Dance got more than just dance instruction out of their experience.
“At the Joffrey Ballet School we got to know students from other parts of the United States, and even some from different countries,” said Sarah.
Kick Dance Studios owner and director Vanessa Berry strives to provide her dancers with strong conditioning classes that prepare her students for programs like the Joffrey Ballet School Summer Program. Her students learn confidence, grace, stage presence and coordination while developing a love for dance in all its styles.
“The Joffrey experience is amazing for these young dancers,” said Vanessa. “They get to train with kids from all over the world who share the same passion for dance.”
About Joffrey Ballet
Classically trained to the highest standards, The Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences, and repertoire which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works. Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley C. Wheater who was recruited as a dancer in 1985 by Joffrey and Arpino before returning to lead the company in 2007 after a heralded tenure at San Francisco Ballet. The Joffrey Ballet has become one of the world’s most revered and recognizable arts organizations in America and one of the top ballet companies in the world.
About Kick Dance Studios
From a child’s first dance class to their graduation performance, Kick Dance Studios is a fit for everyone. The dance school specializes in beginners of all ages and offers training through pre-professional levels. Dancers go beyond technique to develop important life skills, learning to be respectful, confident and conscientious young people who share their gifts and talents with the community.
Kick offers a wide variety of dance, acro/gymnastics, theater and mommy and me classes for all ages and abilities, and the goal is to provide the highest quality training while developing a love for the arts. Classes are all instructed in a supportive, non-competitive atmosphere, and emphasis is placed on personal development and achieving goals.
Kick Dance school students come from Rumson, Fair Haven, Oceanport, Little Silver, Red Bank, Monmouth Beach, Long Branch, Eatontown, Shrewsbury, Oceanport, NJ and beyond.
Cover Photo (Credit Purlee Photography): Three students from Kick Dance Studios, Stella Demscak, Christina Alescio and Sarah Landy, all 13 of Fair Haven, were accepted into the Joffrey Ballet School Summer intensive program in New York City. The girls took classes in both new and familiar dance styles taught by professional dancers from different companies from all over the world.
Students from Kick Dance Studios danced their way into the national finals at the Backstage Performing Arts Competition and skipped away with a first overall award, not to mention more than a handful of other wins. (Spoiler alert: One of the awards came from a judge with a special title!)
For the first time in six year, dancers from Kick Dance Schools in Fair Haven and Rumson competed in the Backstage Performing Arts Competition national finals held July 15-18 in Hershey, PA. The “Give Him a Great Big Kiss” routine, a musical theater/acro theater performance, placed first overall in the 10 and under, duo/trio division. Of the more than 500 entries, less than 15 percent received special judges’ awards, and Kick Dance Studios dancers won for each of their six routines. The teams competed in the 10 and under category.
“This was the first time we’ve gone in six years, so to come back after that long and do so well is outstanding,” said Vanessa Berry, owner of Kick Dance Studios.
Kick Studio performers won first in category for four different routines, second overall for the musical theater routine “Orphans,” and third overall for “Timeless to Me,” and “I Wanna Be A Rockette.” Dancers also received several special judges’ awards, including ‘Stars of Tomorrow,’ ‘Fun and Fresh,’ ‘Personality Plus,’ Simply Breathtaking,’ and ‘Musical Theater Comedy.’ Perhaps the most flattering of all the judges’ awards was the one of ‘Future Rockette,’ given by an actual Rockette!
“It was a huge success,” said Berry. “Seeing the hard work and dedication these kids put in pay off showed incredible teamwork. But most importantly these kids had fun. It was great to see them having such a great time, and the moms had just as much fun as the kids!”
The Backstage Performing Arts Competition is an industry leader in the dance and performing arts competition arena. The competition is meant to provide a fun, fair and educational dance experience for all participants, and fosters an atmosphere of camaraderie and good sportsmanship.
“The competition was stiff,” said Berry. “Everyone who participated was strong and incredibly worthy of competing on the national level.”
Kick Dance Studio instructor Kaitlyn Kurkelemis choreographed three of the six routines performed at the national competition, ‘Timeless to Me,’ ‘I Wanna Be A Rockette,’ and ‘Orphans.’ Berry choreographed ‘Man Around the House,’ as well as the winning number, ‘Give Him a Great Big Kiss.’ Her two children, Henry and Sadie, were the performing duo of ‘Timeless to Me.’
Kick dance school students come to us from Rumson, Fair Haven, Oceanport, Little Silver, Red Bank, Monmouth Beach, Long Branch, Eatontown, Shrewsbury, Oceanport, NJ and beyond.
Team sports like soccer, baseball and football have kept your child in shape, got them out for some fresh air, and built their confidence enough where they’re no longer hiding behind you upon arriving to practice. Now that the season is coming to a close, it’s time to look into activities that will serve up the same excitement and improve on your child’s athleticism.
Consider dance. Dancing the ideal activity for your child to build strength and stay in shape until the spring arrives and they’re ready to play ball again. He or she may even enjoy dancing enough to continue into the sports season. After all, many professional athletes attest to the benefits of dancing.
This summer, 320-pound Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon shared his love of ballet in an interview with CBS Sports. He has been taking ballet since his senior year of college as a way to keep himself injury-free, and he attributes dance with strengthening his knees, ankles and feet so much that he can tell the difference when he hasn’t taken ballet in a while. But even when he isn’t taking lessons regularly, McLendon still enjoys to practice. “I still do some of the same things, the Plié, walking barefoot on your toes,” McLendon explained. “I just walk barefoot doing the lateral.” Now, if McLendon can make the time and find the confidence to leap across a dance floor, surely young athletes everywhere can be inspired to do the same.
“Dancing helps my feet for football,” says nine-year-old Jack Sullivan who has taken dance classes at Kick Dance Studio since he was 4 years old. “It’s a great workout and it’s fun!” His mom Jennifer adds, “As the mother of three dancers, Jack included, I admire how much choreography they can master year after year, as well as the dedication it takes to be a dancer and the poise and confidence they get from being dancers.”
Let’s review five ways your young athlete will benefit from his or her experience dancing this fall and winter:
1.Improve Performance by Cross-Training
In order for an athlete to improve his or her performance in a sport, they may need to step outside the field, court or wherever they play in order to do it. Many athletes cross-train, which involves participating in sports or exercises other than the one the athlete competes in. Many athletes, like the football players mentioned above, participate in dance as a cross-training activity. Cross-training can help reduce an athlete’s risk of injuries by balancing out muscles and providing relief to the ones that are constantly worked or moved.
2. Gain Agility and Speed
Agility is the ability to move your body quickly, easily, and with control and balance –something athletes require. Performing a dance routine takes a great amount of agility. Your child needs agility so her or she can react quickly and make transitions between dance steps, and at the same time be able to feel what they’re doing. Ballet can especially make your child more agile, as he or she moves quickly and changes direction with great balance, stability and range of motion.
3. Gain Flexibility
Whether it’s ballet, jazz or hip-hop, every style of dance requires a great amount of flexibility. Dancing causes muscles to become soft and move with ease, and also increases joint range of motion. As your child dances on a regular basis, he or she will gain greater mobility in their joints by gradually lengthening tense, short muscles. Athletes who are flexible will become lighter, more graceful and versatile in their sport. Flexibility may also prevent sports-related injuries.
4. Become Disciplined and Focused
Dancing engages cognitive and physical processes. It requires coordination of the body and brain, which can benefit athletes who must constantly use critical thinking in their sport. Dancing teaches patience, diligence, concentration and focus. It requires your child to analyze their body alignment and practice controlling the movement of every limb, teaching them how to isolate body parts. Dancing also enhances awareness of themselves in space and in relation to other people, another skill that can benefit athletes.
5. Gain Strength
Dancing is one of the best workouts your child can have, as it tones their entire body. Those bends, turns and leaps will give your child an amazing full body workout. Dancing builds strength by forcing the muscles to resist against a dancer’s own body weight. Not only does it strengthen muscles, it also keeps bones strong and helps build bone mass. These are all important for growing strong, healthy young bodies.
As the sports off-season arrives, we hope to have your child join us at Kick Dance Studios to experience the magic and benefits of dance.
Dance education offers children a chance for both artistry and athleticism. In the right dance school, dance offers children the perfect opportunity for emotional development in both self-esteem and joy.
Look for teachers that are trained to teach. The best teachers may not be the best dancers, but their talents to teach and inspire are remarkable. A degree in dance education is a good sign of a professional teacher at a dance school. When selecting a teacher for young dancers (age 6 and younger), a teacher’s ability to engage and relate to the age group is imperative. Often, a mother makes the best teacher of the tiniest dancers from their hands on experience.
For older dancers, an experienced teacher is essential to developing proper technique in all disciplines of dance. Often teachers push young dancers into pointe shoes before their bodies are developmentally ready. Point work before ready can lead to major injuries and development issues, as well as really bad dance habits.
Corrections are an essential part of a dance education and dance school. Positive reinforcement is very motivating to young dancers as is goal setting and recognition of accomplishments.
Look for an atmosphere that is child appropriate in a dance school Are their scarves, bean bags, etc. for young dancers? Is the music engaging and lively? Is there a variety of music? Is there a variety of dance styles offered so dancers can achieve a balanced dance education? Is the studio warm and inviting?
The relationship between a dance teacher and a student is also an important part of the process. A teacher who knows each student’s name early in the season and offers a warm greeting likely has a great rapport with her students.
How about the kids? Are the dancers experiencing the joy of dance? Technique is essential to a dancer’s development, but if the class was not enjoyable, chances are the dancer will not return the following season.
Are there students who have continued for years? Are they excited to come to dance school? Are there programs available for more advanced dancers? Are there performance opportunities for ALL dancers – not just the most experienced?
Asking a dancer to take a class without performing, is like running drills for soccer, but never playing a game!
A quality school will integrate all of the technical skills in the curriculum for the level and style of dance into a well-choreographed dance for an end of the year performance. The end of year performance or recital is a celebration of the accomplishments of the year, as well as a showcase for talent. Done right, it is a wonderful experience that builds tremendous confidence, perseverance, and appreciation for hard work!
By making the technical skills part of the recital performance, we can ensure that the dancers are learning and accomplishing the goals for the year. By keeping each section of the recital short, we can offer the audience an enjoyable performance as well. Performance also teaches students how to turn a concept into reality.
To learn about Kick Dance Studios classes, click here.
Claire Ciardiello is only 13 years old, but looking at her long list of achievements you wouldn’t know it. The aspiring dancer is a ballet dancer, dance student and teaching assistant at Kick Dance Studios, and a participant of the Broadway Dance Center’s prestigious Junior Training Program. That list goes on and on, and is guaranteed to continue to grow.
The world of dance has not only opened up opportunities for the young performer, but also Claire’s personality, passion and persistence.
“This is her life and this is her love,” said her mother, Dawn-Marie.
Claire has been able to pursue her dancing dreams through Kick Dance Studios, a NJ dance school with locations in Fair Haven and Rumson. After taking a few classes at the studio, Claire realized she wanted to continue to improve, learn and have the opportunity to perform. She knew Kick Dance was the place for her.
“She’s on her way to being a true ballerina,” said Dawn-Marie. “She’s a very shy kid, very conscientious. But when you put her on stage, she pulls your attention. People I don’t even know come up to me and tell me she’s captivating and that she really owns it on stage.”
Dawn-Marie is quick to give credit where credit is due, and a large part of that goes to her daughter’s determined nature and love of dance. But a part of the credit also goes to the dance instructors at Kick Dance.
“The teachers have really focused in on Claire and taken her love of ballet and pushed her technically,” she said. “It’s changed her performance dramatically. The teachers have been phenomenal.”
The instructors at Kick Dance have different specialties and focuses to ensure that every student gets the attention and knowledge needed to succeed. But the instructors’ goals are not to just teach dance, but to help grow students’ confidence and teamwork skills.
“Claire recognizes and understands that it’s not just her, and she really has learned what it means to be a part of a team,” said Dawn-Marie. “She would not have learned to be so confident in her abilities had she not had dance in her life. She’s learning wonderful life lessons.”
Those life lessons are paying off. Claire auditioned and was selected for the prestigious Junior Training Program at the Broadway Dance Center (BDI) in New York City for the summer of 2015. The Center is a professional school and the majority of clientele are current Broadway dancers and aspiring Broadway dancers. The Center offers those still in school a chance to figure out if dance is really what they want to do by offering training programs.
“She’ll be put into classes with professional dancers for three weeks in the summer for 22 and a half hours a week,” said Dawn-Marie. “She’ll concentrate mainly on ballet, but they will supplement with other dance styles to make her a well-rounded dancer.”
Claire is the only Kick Dance student participating in the BDC summer program this year, and is the first Kick Dance student to make it into the program. She is following in her instructor’s footsteps by training at BDC. Vanessa Berry, owner of Kick Dance Studios and an instructor at the studio, trained at The Broadway Dance Center.
“I can’t wait to introduce Claire to some of my favorite teachers and mentors,” said Vanessa.
And if her list of achievements wasn’t long enough, Claire can also claim Kick Dance teaching assistant on her 13-year-old resume. She just completed her second full year of teaching at the studio.
Teachers at Kick Dance identify strong students who they feel set the best example for other students, are serious about dance, hard working and focused, and those students assist instructors during classes, giving students someone to shadow during teaching.
The Ciardello’s involvement with Kick Dance doesn’t end at dance performance. Dawn-Marie’s professional life coincides beautifully with her daughter’s dance life. She owns Posh Pink Tutus, a custom costume design shop, and Dawn-Marie designs and creates costumes for Kick Dance recitals. Last season, she designed and made 150 costumes for the teams’ performances. You name it, Dawn-Marie has made it.
“I’ve made pirate costumes and orphan costumes,” she said. “But my favorite was the princess costumes I designed for the mini team. Each girl was her own Disney princess. I used tulle, satin, sparkly foil material and even sequence. Seeing them all on stage together was great.”
The mother-daughter team is unstoppable, and Kick Dance has provided them with a prime opportunity to shine.