by Terry Rogers
First State Dance Academy recently presented its 17th Annual Dance Concert at Milford High School. According to Michele Xiques, Director, the audience was filled with proud parents, family and friends who cheered on and celebrated the accomplishments of the dancers.
“We featured ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip hop and contemporary dance styles,” Xiques said. “Several dancers received monetary scholarships this past year which aided in their continued dance study. Those who auditioned were accepted to some of the most prestigious schools in the United States. We have a few dancers who are now dancing professionally and even had a dancer return to help us backstage that was invited to train at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia, for a year.”
Over the summer, First State Dance Academy plans to hold summer classes for students aged three and up. The school will offer Pre-School Ballet and Pre-School Returns for three-year-old children. There is free tuition with the purchase of the uniform package for the Pre-School Ballet program. Children aged four and up can participate in the Intro to Dance Class while children aged seven and up can join the Disney Summer Dance Camp which will be held one week in August. First State Dance Academy will also offer Beginner to Advance Ballet, Adult Ballet and Zumba over the summer months.
“Even though each child is developmentally different, we found over the 17 years in business that three-year old children are pretty ready for a class which guarantees the best return on a family’s investment,” Xiques explained. “It helps when they can separate from their parents and are potty-trained. Our goal is to make sure that the child is getting something out of the class rather than just take someone’s money to get their business.” Xiques explained that starting children in dance at an early age can teach them about space, working well with others, body awareness, musicality, coordination and movement.
Xiques started an athletic program that was offered at Sussex Central High School when she taught at the school. She worked with baseball players, wrestlers and their conference champion football players, teaching them dance movements that can improve athletic performance.
“Athletes train their muscles to work mostly parallel while dance trains muscles turned out,” Xiques said. “Strengthening those muscles all the way around can help prevent common athlete injuries while strengthening balance, coordination, agility and jumps. I would love to offer athletic-specific dance classes over the summer if any coaches want to reach out to me to set it up.”
When choosing a dance studio, Xiques encourages parents to research before they sign a child up.
“Most people pick places because their friends take their children there or its convenient with scheduling and/or location,” Xiques said. “There are a few specific things you should look for. Check the director’s experience and also the experiences of the staff members to be sure they have experience in dance. Take a moment to view pictures, videos or visit the studio. You can ask to observe the higher-level classes to see what is in store for your child. Check to see if they have posted their students’ accomplishments and visit other studios to compare. Also, make sure to educate yourself regarding when your child is offered to be placed en pointe to be sure it is safe to do so.”
To register for classes at First State Dance Studio, parents can register children online at www.firststatedance.com by clicking on “Register for Classes.” Students can also call 302-422-2633 for more information.
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