This past summer, dance instructors from the Lewiston Dance Center and the Grand Island Dance Center were in New York City for the Capezio NYC Dance Teachers Summit.
Instructors participated in classes taught by some of the hottest choreographers, including contemporary by Mia Michaels and Sonya Tayeh of "So You Think You Can Dance"; tap from "SYTYCD" alumni Anthony Morigerato; plus cha-cha and rhumba from "Dancing With The Stars" ballroom expert Tony Dovolani.
"It is not just about dancing with the choreographers that are hot right now, it is about learning from some of the greats that have shaped the dance world into what it is today," said Rachel Novelli, owner of the dance schools. "Such as jazz greats Luigi, Frank Hatchett and Shelia Barker, ballet master Finis Jhung, tappers like Debbie Dee and Judy Ann Bassing, and master instructor Denise Wall, whose son is Travis Wall of 'SYTYCD' fame. Take a couple classes from her on body placement and technique, and you can see why her son is so successful in the dance world."
The instructors from Lewiston and Grand Island spent three days in the city taking not only choreography classes, but also teaching and business seminars.
"It is great way to start the season; it helps all of the instructors get on the same page about what we want our students to accomplish for the upcoming season," said Kayla Fyfe, manager of the GI Dance location. "Not only that, but it also helps bring our teaching team closer, so we can really reach out to one another. It is a wonderful feeling, personally, and it gives a great vibe for the students and the whole studio!"
Both Novelli and Fyfe were impressed on the diversity of the NYC Dance Teachers Summit. Included were classes on enlisting students for a dance convention; office management; tax classes and even how to use Facebook and Pinterest.
"The hardest thing to do is make changes in the business end of things," Novelli said. "We look at questions like how can we be more efficient, how can we make the recital and all of those details easier for our students' families, how do we contact people and make sure they are all getting the information they need.
"The only thing we dance teachers and studio owners agreed upon is that there is no easy answer to those questions. But, to be in a room filled with successful business owners freely sharing ideas to help one another was a wonderful feeling."
Now that the teachers are home, they have to take the next step, and try to implement some of the things they learned at the summit into their dance programs.
"In the end, the reason that we go is for our students," Novelli said. "We are educators and we want the very best experience for our students.
"Miss Kathy and I are lucky to have such a dedicated team working beside us. They all care deeply about their students' education and experience in the studio."
The Lewiston Dance Center, which is marking its 20th anniversary this year, is currently accepting new students. For more information, call 716-773-1075.