Students and instructors at Curtain Call Dance Academy, located in Youngstown, have had a busy summer.
Stephanie Polka, the owner and operator, traveled to New York City at the end of July to spend National Dance Day at the Dance Teacher Summit Convention.
"If I stop learning new styles and don't improve myself, I will be sacrificing the ability and knowledge of my students," she said. "I don't want to take any possibilities away from (my students) by not improving (my skill)."
At the convention, Polka took classes taught by many world-class instructors and choreographers, including Andy Blackenbuehler, Mandy Moore, Frank Hatchett, Luigi, AC Ciulla, Denise Wall, Judy Rice, Gregg Russell, Doug Caldwell, Peter Chu and Rhonda Miller. The new techniques Polka acquired from these dancers have given her a new perspective on dance instruction, she said.
The studio presented its dance scholarships for the 2011-12 dance year at Curtain Call Dance Academy's first recital. The "Astaire-Kelly Scholarship," offered to the studio's most outstanding dance partners, is a full-tuition scholarship for all classes in which the winner enrolls. This year's honorees include Sarah Andres, an eighth-grader at Lewiston-Porter Middle School, and Andrea Donovan, an eighth grader at St. Peter's R.C. School. The two girls, who performed a standing ovation-worthy duet in the recital, plan on taking as many classes as possible, including the studio's two new classes, hip hop with break dance, and stiletto heels class "Back it Up!"
"Sarah and Andrea are both hard workers," Polka said. "They deserved this scholarship. There's no doubt that these two worthy students will be dancing for many years to come."
Two other awards were offered to promising students. The "Leading Lady Award" was granted to Samantha Degazio, who graduated from Lewiston-Porter High School this June. Degazio, whom Polka describes as "an excellent dancer and student ... (who) picks up choreography faster than most," plans to apply her scholarship to an education at the New York Institute of Technology, where she will pursue an architecture degree.
"She will be missed by all of us, but we wish her much success in college," Polka said.
Hannah Woodhouse, 7, earned the studio's "Little MJ Scholarship," awarded to a young student who displays great potential.
"Hannah is an amazing student," Polka said. "I've never seen anyone her age dance so naturally."
Curtain Call Academy, 134 Lockport St., offers instruction for ages 3 to adult in ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip-hop, musical theatre, lyrical, modern, contemporary jazz, creative movement (a class designed for very young dancers), hip-hop with break dance and "Back It Up!" Those interested can visit the studio during one of its open houses, which will be held on from 5-9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18, and from 11 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20.