Monday, 29 September 2014


I admit it, I want more for my child that I had for myself, than my parents had for themselves.  I seek out activities and research experiences that will challenge, educate and mold my children into the perfect members of society we all wish to see.

All parents want their children to be happy, healthy well adjusted contributing members to our society and then – and only then – will our job as a parent be complete.
Does this sound familiar to anyone??!!

Many parents land at dance lessons for their children as one of the experiences they seek out to complete this mission.  At the studio we get phone calls every day from parents who want this experience for their child. One of cute costumes, glitter, pink tulle, glitter and adorable photo ops, did I mention glitter?!  All the things that are cute and girly. 

While we are at it they will learn so many life lessons : friendships, listening skills, discipline, taking instructions, being responsible for their class attire and shoes, being prepared, respect for others, respect for themselves, self confidence (getting up on stage is REALLY hard!) – the list can go one for miles of all the great things dance can do for your child.

Below is an article that a friend of mine posted – she doesn’t have kids – but she posted it anyway – she believes that strongly in this experience for her unborn child.

Enjoy the article – I know I didJ

Miss Tara

Monday, 15 September 2014

Confessions of Former Dance Mom

As a studio owner and a dance mom, I am in a unique position to see both sides of my business.  I see the schedules and how they affect busy families. I also see how a very busy company makes the best possible use of space while acting in the best interests of those same busy families.  I am making the after school dash to get the kids to class on time, making sure the dinner is healthy thought out and delicious. Making sure there are tights without holes, the proper shoes and a water bottle at hand, whipping hair into a bun at a stop light while asking them how their school day was.

Sometimes it feels overwhelming and that I cannot please anyone – customers, dancers even my own kids. There are days where this is a very thankless job.  Then every once in a while a dancer or a parent makes a special effort to tell you how much what you do means to their family.  Your own child says a genuine thank you in their own special way, reminding you that it is totally worth it.  Every crazy minute of this passionate industry is totally worth it.

Enjoy reading the following article – I think it is a great reminder of why we do so much for our kids.  Why we at APA have shifted our focus to be MORE THAN JUST GREAT DANCING.
Miss Tara

Confessions of a Former Dance Mom
You start by taking your 3 year old daughter to dance class as something to fill an hour of her week and give her an outlet for her energy. She comes home from class and continues to dance around the house, wearing a few spare scarves from your closet or last year’s princess costume from the dress up box – asking every day there after “do I go to dance today?”
Next thing you know, you’re complaining about hours spent driving back and forth to the studio, the later-than-you’d-like rehearsal (on a school night?!), time sitting and waiting at the studio for class to end when you have a million other places to be. And don’t even get me started on the money – tuition, pointe shoes, master classes, pointe shoes, fund raisers, pointe shoes. Did I mention pointe shoes?
You fret and worry that a “normal” childhood is passing her by. She’s not on the field hockey team, she’s not a cheerleader. She’s rarely at the dinner table because she has class almost every night of the week. Family vacations are planned around summer intensive. High school football games and pep rallies are not on the schedule.
You have the podiatrist and physical therapist on speed dial (what teenager is on a first name basis with their podiatrist?) You research snacks and meals for athletes trying to balance between the need to replace all the calories expended on the Marley and the demand to maintain good lines for dance. You read articles about dancers and poor body image from too much time spent looking in a mirror but never seeing the perfection the teacher wants. “Diet” becomes a four letter word in your house.
But before you know it, she’s danced her last Nut and discarded her last pair of pointe shoes and it’s over all too soon. When it’s all over, and she’s left the stage for the last time, will you remember the hours, the money, the worry or the physical toll? My guess is “no”. You will remember the gifts that dance has given her: the ability to prioritize and multi-task, a strong, flexible body, the ability to handle pressure and last minute changes, an appreciation of music not currently heard on I Heart Radio. You will be grateful you are sending your daughter out into the world with a strong work ethic and a long attention span. You will have a great sense of peace knowing your daughter is part of a strong circle of young women equally capable of lifting one another up when the road is rough, as they are at celebrating one another’s triumphs. In the end, you can pat yourself on the back because taking her to that first dance class 15 years ago one of the best parenting decisions you made.
Lisa DeCavalcante

Thursday, 28 August 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!! But What Do I Wear?!

Every year I see a handful of 'Back to School' commercials, and though my school days are over (and I don't have wee ones of my own yet!) I get SO excited. But not for pens and rulers and notebooks (well... admittedly I do get excited for these things because I love organization)... instead I get excited because a new dance season is about to begin!

At this time (near the end of August), our classes are filling (or filled!), and all of our new and returning dancers are asking what they need for class. Like many other studios we have a specific dress code (you can find it here:, and it thrills me to say that the staff at APA do work to enforce it - I LOVE a good dress code.

Dress code is important. It reinforces the structure that we work to provide through lesson plans, and promotes better behaviour. It creates a neutral learning environment because no one has to worry about what they (and others) will wear to class. It helps develop a team atmosphere - when the dancers visually look unified, they begin to act unified. It keeps dancers safe because their fancy tops and accessories don't get stuck on things in the room (or on other dancers). It allows teachers to see body movements, and give better feedback and correction. It helps teachers create cleaner and more visually appealing routines because they can see lines and shapes better when they aren't distracted by neon zebra print leggings or pink glitter tops. It ensure that dancers are developing the correct muscles

Like I said. I LOVE a good dress code. 

But simply buying the dress code isn't good enough. Proper fitting attire are a mustLet me break it down for you:


How should a Bodysuit fit?
A bodysuit that is too big or too small can be very distracting to a dancer. A bodysuit should fit like a swim suit. It should not fall off the shoulders, and you should be able to pull the straps off of your dancers shoulder by about 1" to 1.5". Do not put bodysuits in the dryer; they will shrink!

Can my dancer wear a bodysuit with sleeves? 
We ask for sleeveless bodysuits because sleeveless bodysuits are required for exams, we sometimes use them as an under piece for recital costumes, and (as I mentioned above) it helps to create unity when everyone is wearing the same thing. If your dancer tends to get cold, they won't be for long! We will either adjust the heat in the room, or increase activity so that your dancer is warm again!


How should tights fit?
Tights are sized by height and weight; if your dancer is in the low-mid range for a size shown on the package then you can stay within the specified size. If your dancer is in the higher end of the height/weight range for a size, go up!

Dance tights are expensive. Can't I just buy nylons or send my dancer in leggings?
We prefer dance tights. Yes, they are more expensive. But they are also more durable, and they do provide more coverage than a nylon does. Dance tights also have specific hues that make it easier to spot muscle tone and placement, which means that teachers are better able to correct dancers, and make sure they are engaging proper muscles groups. 
If you have a child that seems to go through tights every week, buy them a size (or two!) larger than you think they are. The waistbands on tights do not change much from a 8-10 sized tight, to an Adult Medium, and the length increase by small increments - so it is absolutely safe to buy big!
Bonus: going up a size or two in tights means more fabric; your tights will not stretch out as much, the fibres will stay in tact, and if the tights happen to catch on a nail (or anything else!) they are less likely to rip!!


Tap Shoes and Hip Hop: I absolutely insist that dancers have growing room in their shoes - after all, who really wants to buy multiple pairs of shoes in a year? BUT (and this is a big but!) the shoes cannot be TOO big. If your child brushes their foot forward, and the shoe flies off of their foot, it is too big. This has happened to me on several occasions; one time in a tap class, I had a student kick off their shoe and break the mirror. Another time, I had a dancer kick off their shoe while we were doing circle warm up, and it hit another dancer in the head - ouch! Hip hop shoes are a little more forgiving, because they cover more of the foot and generally have a full lace. 

How should a Tap/Hip Hop Shoe fit?: Your dancer should have 3/4 to 1 thumb of space in the front of their shoe when standing. As long as their heels stay in their shoes when they rise up on to their toes (and I will ask them to dance on their toes!). If they are a little on the big side, make sure that you have shoe laces to tighten them, or you can try a small insert. They make ones for the ball of the foot, and ones for the heels - the heel grips are GREAT for any dancers with really narrow heels!

Ballet & Jazz Shoes (and Dance Theatre!): Again, we do want some growing space, but it is important to remember that most ballet and jazz dancers spend a significant amount of time on their toes. If there is too much space in the toes of the shoe then there is a definite tripping hazard. Another fun fact about these shoes: because they are made out of leather, they stretch. They will stretch at least a half size, probably closer to a full size. I buy my jazz shoes a full size smaller than my regular street shoe, because if they are too loose then I lose control and balance. 
We prefer the dancers not to dance barefoot for ballet and jazz because there is risk of injury (once upon a time I ripped several layers of skin off of the ball of my foot while attempting to turn in bare feet, and I can tell you that it did NOT feel good), and because it is more advantageous to the dancer to train in the same shoe for performances and exams (switching between bare feet and shoes can change balance, power, rotation, and control).

How should a Ballet/Jazz Shoe fit?: Your dancer should have about 1/2 thumb of space in the front of their shoe when standing. This gives your dancer about a half size of growing room. Once you consider the stretch factor, you have about 1-1.5 sizes of growing space. 
I personally like to lightly tighten the drawstrings, knot them, and cut them off. If you tie them in a bow, they will never stay done up - I promise! You can of course do this yourself - be careful not to tie the drawstrings too tightly! They do start to dig into the backs of the dancers heels when they grow. 

Acro and Conditioning: We like all of our dancers to have a good cross trainer runner for conditioning, because this class focuses on strength development and injury prevention. Hip Hop runners (and other fitness shoes) do not have the same arch support, and are not appropriate for the movement required from the dancers in this class. BUT because these shoes won't make it to the stage, and colour and style will work! 
Acro requires NO shoes (wahoo!) because it allows dancers to grip the floor better with their feet, allowing them to execute acro skills and tricks much easier!

And there we have it! Everything you need to know about dress codes and proper fitting attire. If you have any questions about our dress code, or how it should fit, please check our website (, or give our office a call (403-648-5287)!

And don't forget about our Second Hand Sale next Wednesday, September 3rd 5:00pm-7:00pm!

Next stop... DANCE CLASS! I will be counting the sleeps!

Miss Adrianne <3

Sunday, 13 July 2014

To Dance... or Not to Dance...

I've had many parents ask about summer classes; should their child be dancing over the summer, or is it OK to take a break from dance?

My coaching background with NCCP tells me that every athlete (note: I use this term loosely; I personally believe that our dancers train physically as athletes, but perform their athletic abilities using emotions to create art! But thats another story!) needs recovery time. I've lived it, I've learned it, and I agree. We all need a physical, mental, and emotional break to recharge. Without it we burn out and are either at risk of injury or we lose interest. This is why I always insist that we do as few classes over Christmas Break and Spring Break as possible, even when our dancers beg for class because they know they will be bored. 
I also think that it's important that our dancer's have time to be kids, and that they have the opportunity to try other activities and learn other skills and abilities - let's face it, dance does not teach you everything (i.e. hand-eye coordination - I'm living proof!).

But summer... summer is SOO long. 

As a dance educator, I feel that taking an entire summer off is too much. I've seen how a dancer can go from doing all three splits, to not being able to do any. 
I couldn't quite figure out how to express it, but the article below helps articulate exactly how I feel from the perspective of a dance educator. 

My conclusion: It's about finding balance - isn't it always?!
Your dancer needs time to relax and become rejuvenated, but they also need to stay in shape physically and mentally. How you achieve that balance, is up to you!

Miss Adrianne <3

Author: Miss Erin
"'I know my child is really talented at dance, but...' Rewards of Letting Your Child Be Dedicated to Their Art"

Inevitably, every summer I run into parents outside of the dance school who tell me that their child is miserable because they, the parents, have decided it was a good thing for their child to take the summer off from dance.   These are, by the way, usually the same parents that end up complaining that their child did not get moved up a level when all his/her friends did.  When I then explain it was because all of his/her friends had taken classes over the summer, I usually hear, ‘well it’s not my child’s fault that he/she didn’t take classes.  Imade him/her take the summer off.’  I then explained that we are not punishing the child at all, but we are also not going to punish the kids that took summer classes and improved while their child stayed home and regressed.
The above annual conversations started me writing an article on the importance of summer study:  To Take Summer Classes or Not.  In the middle of writing that article; I began to think about exactly what these parents were saying.  I also began thinking about a recent question I received from a former student of mine who is now teaching herself, ‘How do you feel about parents that refuse to let their child use their talents and make a career out of dance? ’ Before I knew it, I was writing a whole other article.
Firstly, I don’t comprehend why you would make your child take the summer off from dance?  If it’s a financial thing, I totally understand, though there are always alternatives to expensive study away from home which I wrote about in that a fore mentioned article.  Financial reasons at least make sense to me. It also makes sense to me if the child feels overwhelmed and wants to take the summer off.   Other than that, I just don’t get why you would make your child give up their passion for a whole summer.  Furthermore, why would parents do the other thing I hear a lot: parents making their child try different activities.  What if the child is happy with the one they have chosen?  Is it because society today seems to believe that it’s better for your child to be ‘well rounded,’ which usually means being mediocre at five different activities than to be really dedicated and proficient at one? If your child wants to try something else, great, I would encourage that, but if they’re happy with the one activity they have chosen to dedicate their time to, why make them give that up or cut back on dancing to try something they don’t think they’ll even like.
The truth is that I understand that not all my students want a career in dance.  In fact, most of them just want to have fun and I’m fine with that, but what about the handful that do?  Those children can become obsessive when it comes to dance and I know that can be frightening for parents to see their child so single-minded at such a young age. However, here’s something parents need to know that their children obviously already do, dance is a young person’s career.  The life of a dancer usually spans from the age of 18 or younger to usually only the mid-thirties, if they’re very lucky. If they don’t dedicate themselves to it early enough, their chance of a career goes down significantly.  Other kids across the country take upwards of twelve classes a week on top of rehearsals and study all summer long.  When your child comes across these students in an audition, they understand these other dancers will be more prepared and therefore get the job or get the slot in the summer program.  If dancers want to be competitive, dance almost needs to be all consuming. The world of dance is a very competitive place and you must put in the work in order to reap the benefits.
I hear so many excuses from parents about why they don’t want to support their child’s dream of dancing professionally.‘I know my child is really talented at dance, but it would be a shame for her to be a dancer because she is so smart.’ ‘The life of a dancer is so hard and it’s such a short career.’ ‘I know he’s talented, but the odds of him having a dance career are so slim.’ ‘She’s so used to the lifestyle we provide her; she could never live on such a small budget.’  ‘I don’t want to have to support him financially.  I want him to have a career he can make money at and support himself.’  These are all valid points except the first one.  I know as parents you want your child to be healthy and happy and financially stable.  The point is that they can be all those things and still have a career in dance.  Will it be a struggle?  Yes, of course, but any career path will have that!  If your child wants to dedicate their life to dance, chances are they know it will be difficult, they know they will probably have to change career paths later on down the road and they know they will never get rich dancing and yet they still want to pursue the career.  If they have enough drive and talent to do so, why squelch their dreams?
When I read the beginnings of this article to my mother, she laughed told me I should add to my original title: The Rewards of Letting Your Child Be Dedicated to Their Art and said, ‘why would someone want to steal their child out of the spotlight?’  As we talked, she did admit that she thought my dance teacher growing up was a bit insane when she told my mom I needed to take eight ballet classes a week at the age of eight, but she said, ‘I tried to trust her judgment; I mean, I didn’t know anything about dance. I signed you up, sweated when I handed over the payment and held my breath. You loved it. Did I think it was a bit much for an eight year old?  Truth be told, yes, but you seemed to thrive on it.’
I told my mother that I appreciated all the support which came with the sacrifices her and my father made for me to pursue my dreams from my father taking on extra coaching and summer jobs to pay for my classes, my mother spending countless hours in the car driving me to all my lessons and auditions, giving up family vacations and dinners out to pay for pointe shoes and summer programs and volunteering endless hours of their time helping at the dance school.  She laughed again and told me it was so rewarding as parents to see their child light up inside when they did something they loved to do.  She wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world and she was happy to make any sacrifice she could to give me the opportunities she did.  Besides, she told me, ‘our early investment paid off big time.’  She was referring to the fact that my parents didn’t pay anything for my college education since I got full ride between academic and dance scholarships.  After college, I got several different jobs in my field, bought my own home and car, paid my own bills and they haven’t had to support me since.
The truth is that the career of dance and the arts in general, is a difficult path and not all people make it, but the chances of making it go up exponentially when the parents support their endeavors. I have seen many parents make very fair decisions when it comes to this and there is a lot of room for compromise.  I do not mean that they have opened their check book and started supporting their starving artist.  Some parents agree to let their child go to college for dance if they agree to minor in something else.  Some parents have told their child that they have so much saved up in a college fund and they can use that money to pursue their dance career instead, but once the money is gone, it’s gone and they are on their own.  Some parents agree to support their dancer for one year, but if they can’t make their career happen in that amount of time, they have to go it on their own or go to college.  Some parents encourage their child to take the professional dance contract being offered them as long as they take a few online college courses each semester or start pursuing their yoga certification or real estate license in their free time.
I would encourage all parents to support their children’s aspirations and ambitions, especially if there’s a chance of them becoming an actuality.  Being a professional dancer is not just some pie in the sky dream, it can be a reality and it can be just as rewarding and challenging as becoming a doctor or lawyer, especially when you have supportive parents behind you.
Side Note: If you are a young dancer struggling in a less than supportive environment, you might want to check this out.  Remember the only person you can please is yourself and no one lives your life, but you. ‘This above all: to thine own self be true.’ Best of luck and keep dancing and pursuing your dreams.

Monday, 23 June 2014

I found this article on the web and felt it was extremely appropriate to post since we just finished our Competition Auditions for the 2014-2015 Team selections.  It raises some great points about what we are looking for as teachers and mentors with our students.

Having watched the dancers get excited to audition and then perhaps struggle with their own personal effort afterwards, I think it’s really important to remind our dancers that we are cheering for them to be successful.  We have the advantage of watching them all season long and seeing how they respond to all kinds of situations. We are educators first and foremost and we will always look for the teaching moments we can provide.

We are focused on the process not the results.  We are committed to making sure the dancers have positive caring environments to learn, make mistakes, grow, mature and take risks. I hope you enjoy the article below as it is very well written.

Miss Tara

Author: Miss Erin
"Inside the mind of a dance teacher: How I make Casting Decisions"

I have heard from so many parents and students, ‘I wish I could read your mind.’ Well, here you go.  Here are some of the things I look at when making casting decisions.

Challenge but Not Overwhelm When looking at casting, I always try to challenge my students with their roles, but not to overwhelm them with a part that is too difficult for them to perform.  I know every parent wants their child to have the leading role, but when you stop to think about it, you probably don’t want me putting your child on stage in a role they have no chance of performing successfully. This is the reason why I cringe when I hear a parent ask me, ‘When will it be my daughter’s turn to get the lead.’  There is no turn taking when it comes to lead roles and the sad truth of the matter is that your child might never get the leading role in a ballet if their technique and artistry never reaches a certain level.

Technique   For every role, there is a set of skills that a dancer needs to have in order to make that role a success.  Sometimes this means being able to execute certain steps, like being able to do so many fouette turns.  Sometimes it’s simple technical skills like use of their feet or high extension. I am always looking for the most technically proficient dancer to dance the lead roles and so is everyone else.  It is not a coincidence that guest choreographers choose the same dancers to work with and feature in choreography as I do and, no, I don’t talk to them and influence their decisions.  They simply see what I see.

Stage Presence   There are students that light up the stage and there are ones that don’t.  Whatever you want to call it: charisma, stage presence, star quality; to be successful as a dancer, the audience has to enjoy watching you.  Some dancers have the best technique in the world, but without this quality, the audience will not care to watch them.  Unfortunately, after years of teaching, I’m beginning to believe you either have this quality or you do not.  I can bring out some passion in students and I can improve their performance quality a bit with coaching, but whatever you choose to call it, either you were born with it, or it will elude you.

Corrections Application and Retention/Work Ethic   Sometimes I hear from dancers that they are surprised about casting because, ‘I thought I gave the best audition.’  This actually can be true.  I sometimes have a dancer that gave the best audition, though it wasn’t perfect, but I know that they don’t have much of a work ethic.  Then I have a dancer that didn’t do as well in the audition, but I know will take corrections well and will work themselves to death in order to make the role perfect. Despite what happened in the audition itself, I’m going with the latter for the part.  There are students that rest on their laurels once they get a role and there are ones that work every day to make their performance the best it can be.  The dancers that remember corrections, apply them and maintain them will always be my first choice for roles.

Class Attendance   If a child does not come to class, they cannot improve.  A student can be the most talented in the class, but if they are not attending on a regular basis, that really doesn’t matter.  If you don’t show up for class, how do I know that you are going to take the rehearsal attendance any more seriously?

Personality Traits   If a role requires being funny, such as Mother Ginger in the Nutcracker or the Step Sisters in Cinderella, and a dancer is very quiet and shy, he or she probably won’t be considered for those roles. If there is major partnering required for a role and a dancer isn’t fearless, I probably won’t look at them for that role.  If I need someone who attacks movement with power and a dancer is hesitant, you get the idea.

Fairness   Believe it or not, most dance teachers I know try to be as fair as they can when casting.  For instance, I try to give the same amount of roles to everyone in Nutcracker.  I try to give the seniors a special role, it might not be the lead depending on ability, but I give them something to look forward to and to call their own.  There are times that I try to highlight everyone, usually at the end of the year recital.  It is something I consider. Something for parents to consider: You have to advocate for your child, but I have to advocate for all the children.  I cannot ‘take a chance on your child’ if there are other children who can actually perform the role, that is not fair to them.
What has little to do with casting: How much a parent volunteers, whether we like a student personally or not, parent’s behavior/attitude, whether or not a dancer is facially pretty.  I’ve heard many excuses parents use to justify why certain girls get roles. Being facially pretty has absolutely nothing to do with it, at least not for me.  However, to tell the absolute truth and this does not happen as often as one might think, the only time the rest matters is when I have two students who have the same amount of pros and cons in all of the above categories.   If and when that happens, I might go with the student whose parent is positive and helpful and/or with the student who doesn’t gossip about others and who does not interact with the other dancers in a negative way. Otherwise, it’s all about technique, work ethic and stage presence and nothing else