The First State Academy of Dance hosted the Diamond Dance Company as they prepared for their performance of The Nutcracker on December 4 and 5 at the Milford High School Theatre. The Academy of Dance is unfamiliar to many who are not involved with the program, but with the town of Milford beginning to focus on the art community once again it is something to take a look at.
Tucked away behind the Milford Post Office, the building that holds the First State Dance Academy is very unassuming. Once inside, however, the building opens up into 3 studios; 1 downstairs and 2 upstairs. The Academy welcomes roughly 130 adult and children dancers each year and has started to host its second dance company this year.
Owner of the Academy Michele Xiques took over the existing business ten years ago from Maria Fry, co-founder and former Director of Diamond Dance Company. Since then she has expanded the opportunities of her dancers by offering new styles of dance. The studio offers ballet, pointe, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, modern, partnering, male technique, ballroom dance, Zumba and adult/teen tap and dance. Michele’s studio aims to develop the artistic talents of students by giving them the “knowledge, background and technique needed to accomplish personal goals” commented Michele.
Ms. Xiques, who was a professional ballerina herself, majored in dance at Point Park College, became an equity actor, and performed with Atlanta Ballet and Empire Ballet in NY. This experience led her to develop her first dance company known as the Delaware Dance Alliance. With help from her assistant Michelle Parisi, Ms. Xiques has brought dancers in from all over Delaware including Seaford, Rehoboth Beach, Wilmington, Newark and Harlty to be a part of the new dance company. The new group is comprised of almost 50 performers, men and women from age 8 to 40.
The Delaware Dance Alliance announces its production of the “Twilight Ballet” which will be performed at the Schwartz Center in Dover on Thursday May 12, 2011. Based on the popular novels and movies the ballet is a story of forbidden love, and teen angst. The high school heroin moves to a new city, and falls in love with a mysterious young man, only to discover that he is a vampire. Michele hopes that the popularity of the twilight series will draw an audience who may not be familiar with ballet. “I really feel we can draw a broader audience with this ballet,” commented Ms. Xiques. “There is something for everyone including great choreography and fight scenes.”
Michele would like to get more people in the community involved with the dance studio. “Not only can dance turn into a great profession but it teaches students etiquette, poise, discipline and confidence,” stated Michele. First State Academy of Dance offers professional classes with guest teachers throughout the year which have included: Deb Leamy – Broadway, NYC, Julie Voshell-Broadway’s “Movin Out” & “Swing”, Kimberly Dyer- North Carolina Dance Theatre, Andrei Govorov – Russian Ballet Theatre, Eric Ragan – from The Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center, Cheri Noble and many others.
The First State Academy of Dance works with students of all ages and encourages families to get involved. Unlike many other dance studios in Delaware, the First State Academy does not require students to perform at a professional level to enjoy the classes that are offered. “I found it very discouraging that other dance studios would only allow those students who could perform at high levels. I want this to be a place where individuals can enjoy dance without feeling intimidated,” stated Ms. Xiques. The dance academy is currently offering family discounts and scholarships to male students enrolled in ballet after their first two years training. More information about the First State Academy of Dance can be found at http://www.dancefsad.com/.