Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So Long, Farewell...

"So long, farewell
Auf Weidersehen, goodbye
 I leave and heave
A sigh and say goodbye

"And thanks for all the fish..."
Smiles and Hugs,
(P.S. Happy Halloween!!!)

The ABB Nutcracker's Clara and Fritz cast

The Albany Berkshire Ballet "Nutcracker" (VT)
Claras and Fritzs!

The three Claras!      

Never leave the three Claras alone...
with a...

Trip Dance CO-Juniors

TRIP Juniors spelling out (with their bodies) TRIP DANCE CO!

ABT Summer Intensive Auditions

Don't forget that the American Ballet Theater Summer Intensive auditions are coming soon: Saturday, January 5, 2013  in Boston, MA!
Ages 9-11     3PM 
Ages 11-14   4PM
15 and up     6PM
Get that camera ready for your audition photos!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!

If you're going to dance class on Halloween, you may wear your costumes to class!

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Surprise Guest In The ABB Nutcracker

Don’t miss the Albany Berkshire Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker ( choreographed by Madeline Cantarella Culpo, November 24 and 25 at the Flynn Theater in Burlington, VT! Miss Helena is the rehearsal mistress assisted by Emma Rivers and Reilly Faith! Dancers come from all around Vermont come to participate as Clowns, Reindeer, Mini Mice, Mice, Solders, Angels, Maids, Party Children, and Clara!

You may recognize many of SDA dancers’ sweet faces up onstage. I am so excited to announce 
that Vladimir Roje (another sweet face known around SDA) will be performing in this production as the Cavalier.  Mr. Vlad was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. He began his ballet training at the National Conservatory for Dance in Bulgaria and earned a B.A. and Masters of Ballet Direction/Ballet Art from the State Music Academy in Sofia. He began his career as a soloist at the Bulgarian National Theater for Opera and Ballet, and later became a principal dancer at the opera in Graz, Austria. He has traveled extensively as a guest artist in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. His awards include a bronze medal at the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, and third place in the international competition in Luxemburg.  Mr Vlad is a guest instructor at SDA and has performed in many of our end of year performances. (

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Interesting information about the Nutcracker Ballet

The Nutcracker Ballet is over 100 years old!  It was first presented at the Mayinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on December 17, 1892. Peter Tchaikovsky, the famous Russian composer, was commissioned by choreographer Marius Petipa to compose the ballet.  The score based on Alexandre Dumas’s adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." This is a story of a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads. 
Tchaikovsky and Petipa had previously worked together on another classical ballet, Sleeping Beauty.  The first production of The Nutcracker was a failure. Neither the critics nor the audience liked it. Even though Czar Alexander III was delighted with the ballet, The Nutcracker was not an instant success. However, the ballet gained popularity with future productions, especially in the United States.   The first performance in the United States of the Nutcracker was by the San Francisco Opera Ballet in 1944, directed by William Christensen.  George Balanchine brought new life by changing a few characters.  His 1954 production for the NYC Ballet popularized the ballet and established it as a holiday tradition.  Many versions we see performed today are based on the version created by Balanchine.  (from

Keep a lookout for more on the Nutcracker tomorrow!!!
Miss Maria Sullivan as a Party Child in the Albany Berkshire Ballet!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I wanted to interview Miss Maria Sullivan because she’s not only fun and interesting, but she grew up at Stowe Dance Academy as a student and has returned as a teacher.  Miss Maria recently graduated from Columbia College for the Arts in Chicago IL with a double degree in Dance/Teaching, and Marketing Communications/Public Relations.   Now she spends her time working at a job in marketing as well as teaching for SDA (as well as assisting with ABB’s Nutcracker and as one of our TRIP choreographers and teachers). I  have grown up with Miss Maria teaching me and I know that there is so much she's done in her life that isn't talked about in this interview (like running the ABB Nutcracker when she was only 17), but here are a few highlights of her life...

Q: When did you begin dancing?
A: I started when I was 2 1/2. Back then, my mom rented space to teach in. We didn’t build our house/studio until I was 5 1/2. That’s when we moved to Stowe. 

I wanted

Q: What was it like growing up in a dance studio?
A: Growing up with the studio has been a really interesting experience. We’re never alone, which is somewhat comforting, but it has caused us to live a very busy life. I have become accustomed to having people around at all hours of the day. Due to this, I have grown up with many friends, both adults and kids of my own age. Due to my constant interaction with others, I matured at a very young age.The studio is an extremely busy place, but I thrive off of the constant interaction with students and parents, workload and of course teaching. There are many times where having a studio attached to your house becomes a bit much, but life would be very different had my parents planned the business in a different way.

Q: Did you enjoy attending Debby Allen’s school in Los Angeles?  Would you recommend the summer intensive?
A: I attended Debbie Allen’s camp when I was 13 (I think), and it was a really great experience.  Her camp is extremely diverse, both in who attends and with what is offered.  I attended the camp with my close friend Alexandra (AB) who used to dance at SDA. We stayed in Malibu with her family friends (Sojourns insert: a celebrity btw) & went into LA each day.  The students who attend DA come from all over, but there are also many inner city kids from the area who attend the school.  Coming from Vermont, this camp gave me and my friend the opportunity to immerse ourselves in another culture.  We met new people, learned from their lives and how ours differed from theirs,  Also, the camp is located in downtown LA, so that was different for me.  I was used to the city, but DA is not located in the popular, famous part of LA.  Each day, my mom would drop us off & we spent the entire day there, ate lunch in a cafeteria type room & took about 6 classes a day.  This is where it was the most beneficial.  We took ballet, jazz, show jazz, and hip hop.  But we also took African, musical theatre, acting (yikes) and singing (even more yikes)!  I’m not a singer, but each class was amazing & I learned so much.  AB and I were in different levels, so we each made friends & had a great week. 
  • Side note #1: I think a dancer learns the most & improves the most during the summer months.  As a teacher, I see the most improvement during the summer camps & a we can always tell when a dancer has not been continuing their training.
  • Side Note #2: Debbie came to speak at Columbia (my college) during black history month.  I went to see her speak (which was amazing of course) with a friend.  When she was done, I joined the crowd to thank her and when I finally got to the front of the line, she hugged me and said “I know that face…I could never forget that face.”  Its amazing that she has trained thousands of dancers, has been so successful in life & in the dancing world, but she can still remember individual students.  I promise,  I didn’t make any special impression at camp, but somehow she remembered me nine years later!
Q: When did you begin teaching dance?
A: I started assisting when I was about 15….I believe. I’m old…it was quite a long time ago. Anyways, I think I officially started teaching the 3-4 year olds when I was 16. I have a way with children, but specifically with the little nuggets. I have a blast teaching that age, and for some reason, they love me. We call the class “Motion to Music,” and it’s a creative dance based class with lots of free dance, Disney sing-alongs and princess talk. You can imagine how fun it is; therefore you can understand why I still teach the 3-6 year olds as much as possible.

So, I taught the creative dance classes for a while. I also taught a young jazz class, but my connection to students and desire to teach young children led me to double major through college. Major 1: Marketing Communications/Public Relations….Major 2: Dance with a concentration in teaching (focusing in youth education). I think it kinda stuck after that…

Q: What was it like studying dance in Sweden?  
A: Sweden was a little bit of a break for me. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study in college, nor was I sure of where I wanted to go. A year abroad was the best option. I attended Balletakademine (The Ballet Academy of Stockholm), where I focused on the Graham style of modern, ballet and jazz. I also took writing and grammar classes to improve my Swedish & I worked at a small coffee shop in Stockholm’s Old Town. My experience in Sweden was amazing and not only did I learn so much about myself a dancer, but my Swedish greatly improved and when I returned to the States, I was ready for college.

*Side note: I had partially decided on two schools before I went to Sweden…Helena found Columbia College while I was in Sweden and that’s where I ended up. The other schools were in NH & Seattle?! Crazy!

Q: Did you dance in college? 
A: Yes, I did dance in college. I was a double major in dance and marketing, so I was enrolled in 23 credits each semester. A dance major at Columbia College is required to take 4 technique credits (2 ballet & 2 modern classes per week), 1 dance making (choreography) class, dance history, anatomy/kinesiology, 1 styles & forms (hip hop/jazz etc.), music & rhythm and many more PER semester. They require quite a large load of classes for a major. Which should be expected. Since I double majored, I was at school from 8 AM-9:30 PM daily.

Q: Did you belong to any clubs in college?
A: As a matter of fact, I did! As soon as I got to school, I joined PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) a PR related group to my marketing major. This was a great way of meeting new people within my PR major, as I was largely focused on the dance dept. This was also a great way to learn about and meet agencies in Chicago.

Also, during my sophomore year, I joined the Student Dance Organization-SDO (a student based group that represents the students of the Dance Center of CCC). For the first two years in the group, I was a secretary and it allowed for me to become extremely involved in the happenings of the Dance Center. I got to know my teachers as a young professional and not just as a student. As a Junior, I became the president of SDO and used the position as a stepping stone to make my place within the Dance Center, the Chicago dance community.

Q: Have you taught dance classes or choreographed at other schools or in college?
A: I’ve never taught in another studio, but I taught quite a bit while in college. As a teaching major, I had a certain amount of teaching hours to complete, along with a position as a teachers assistant.

Teaching hours: within our teaching classes, we were required to teach certain parts of a lecture, an exercise, a combo or sometimes, an entire class. Each of these experiences was beneficial in its own way. As someone who thankfully had a great deal of teaching experience, I decided to become a teacher’s assistant in an academic dance class instead of a technique class.

Teachers Assistant: I love anatomy…all things anatomy! Bring me to the "Body Exhibit", I’m enamored. My anatomy teacher was a great influence in my college career. Not only did he inspire me to explore my technique classes from an anatomical perspective, but he also inspired me to see the joy in class and teaching. Kyle (his name) helped me connect so many explanations to my misalignments and bodily pains. All of it began to make sense.

Then, it began to make even more sense when I became Kyle’s teachers assistant to his freshman anatomy students. I became responsible for the students study sessions, labs, outside tutoring and specifically for applying their new knowledge to their movement classes. I’ve never learned so much about myself and my ability to teach in such a short amount of time. It was an invaluable experience.

Q:  Do you have a favorite dance that you choreographed?
A: As of now, I think “Breathe” might be my favorite. It was a very importance piece for me, and I feel that my dancers not only pushed themselves, but they pushed me.
Senior TRIP team performing "Breathe", 2012 (photo by ProPix).
 Even though “Breathe” was an important piece, “Babe Yetu” will always be a favorite, if not for the music (which makes me tear up…only being honest), then for the dancers and their creativity. Another favorite will be performed soon.
"Baba Yetu" won overall high teen scores at WCDE and Tremaine.
TRIP performing "Baba Yetu", 2012 (photo by Luminosity).
 “I know the Truth” will be performed by the 2012/13 TRIP Seniors for the first time in December. The dance has been completed, but its still under construction... and I truly think it will be amazing. The music comes from “Aida” a once very moving and popular Broadway show. I love the dance…and so will you. 

Q: If you could dance in any ballet or Broadway production, which one would it be?
A: I’ve never wanted to “perform.” I love teaching & choreographing, but I’ve never had he desire to be in a performance company. To keep this short…. if I could have my way, I’d be on Broadway. I have a terrible voice, but that’s what dreams are for. My latest favorite: Newsies on Broadway…AHHMAZING

Q: If you could choreograph for any Broadway or ballet production what would you like to do?
A: I would love to CO-Choreograph a contemporary /modern show with a few good friends from college. We are all very different people, different dancers and VERY different choreographers, but I feel that we could produce a fantastic show. We’ve talked about it…and maybe someday we’ll all get it together! If so, you’ll all be invited.

Q: You have danced at SDA for most of your life, and now you teach here.   What is it like to go away and then come back as a teacher?
A: In all honesty, I never really left. Through college, I came home quite often for many reasons. TRIP Conventions in Boston, long weekends to teach at the studio, performance, fundraisers and all holidays. Stowe is a difficult place to leave, but I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to be close enough to have the many options I had. Because of this, I have been able to see TRIP evolve into an extremely strong youth dance organization, and I’ve been so fortunate to be apart of it as a choreographer. 
Maria competing with TRIP at WCDE (photo by ProPix)
Now that I’ve graduated, being here is different. I’m working as an office manager, but also as a choreographer and teacher. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for SDA/MRDA and TRIP. SDA and MRDA students are great and being their teacher has been a great experience for me.
Q: If you could have or make the perfect job, what would it be like?
A: I don’t have an answer for this. I have two very separate dreams. I obviously love teaching, but I really love the business side of marketing. I   was fortunate enough to work for NBC 5 Chicago last summer and I was introduced to a fantastic world of business. It’s hard to choose between two things you love…and hopefully I won’t have to choose. The best scenario would be to work where I can do both… I’ll find a way. 
 Q: Is there something that people don’t know about you (fun or interesting) that you would like to share?
A: -I once KICKED a basketball from center court and it went into the hoop…shocking!
-I’ve got a MEAN southern accent

Monday, October 15, 2012

Quote of the Day

When I dance, I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole, that is why I dance.
~ Hans Bos ~

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Birthday to SDA/MRDA's October Babies!

Katelyn O’Toole
Helena Sullivan
Lillian Cadwell
Emma Rivers
Rachel Cunningham
Lucia Hamor
Sophie Manosh
Lucy Andrus
Lola Potter
Emmy Schopke
Alaena Hunt
Avery Turner
Eliza Cabot
Tucker Hunt
Maria Lombardi
Annika Norden
Jules Gershman
Anna Rothschild
Acadia LaGue
Emily Roberts
Annalise Westervelt

We hope you all enjoy your birthday!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Audition and Competition Tips from Danielle

Q: What advice can you share with SDA dancers that you wish you had known when you were auditioning or competing?
A: Danielle’s advice for auditions, conventions and competitions:
1.      Be prepared, dress appropriately for the dance style and show up early to start warming up and mentally preparing yourself.  Make a list and check it twice before audition/convention/competition day.
2.      The teachers, choreographers and/or audition panel are on your side.  They don’t want you to fail.  I know they can be intimidating but they want you to succeed.
3.      Try your very best to not “hide” in the back especially when learning choreography.  And, when learning the new choreography try your best to perform the choreography as taught unless otherwise specified by the choreographer to put your own twist on it.  Pay close attention to all the details (hands, feet, body quirks, etc.)
4.      It’s ok to ask questions when learning new material.  But if you ask a question make sure it’s not a question that has already been asked and answered.  Asking a question that has already been answered can give the impression that you are not paying attention.  Listen to all questions and answers.  Even if you don’t think it applies to you, you can probably learn from it. 
5.      It’s ok if you make a mistake.  If you happen to make a mistake keep going.  Try your very best not to stop or show it on your face.  If you look confident (even if you’re not feeling 100%) sometimes they won’t notice the mistake or will overlook it.
6.      When auditioning, always give 150%!  Perform as if you are in a show performing on stage.  Have fun and stay positive.  You may not be selected every time.  Not being picked does not mean you are a bad dancer.  Sometimes it’s not about your dancing at all.  It could be as simple as your height, hair color, etc.  Don’t assume that just because you aren’t selected you lack talent or technique. 
7.      Be gracious at all times.  If a correction is given to you, it’s actually a good thing.  If the teacher, choreographer or audition panel takes time to pick you out of the group that means you have caught their eye, they are paying attention and more times than not probably like something about you. 
8.      A bad or arrogant attitude won’t get you very far in this business.  Especially when starting out.  Treat all of your fellow dancers, teachers, and choreographers and audition panel with the utmost respect.  Make sure to say “Thank You” whenever possible.  It goes a long way!
9.      The more auditions/conventions/competitions you go to, the easier it will be the next time and the more confident you will become. 
10.  Be your unique self and dance your very best.  Show how much you love to dance.  Have fun and believe! 
Danielle with awards after a dance competition

Monday, October 8, 2012


Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to be over, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”   
- Author Unknown  

Friday, October 5, 2012


 Introducing Miss Danielle Suffredini 

Danielle joined SDA last fall as an instructor.  She taught tap and jazz as well as instructed the Junior TRIP team.  We are so happy that she has returned this year to teach jazz, lyrical, and tap.  She has also choreographed several amazing dances for the TRIP teams. 

Danielle is one of our newest instructors, and I thought it would be fun to get to know her a bit better, so I asked her a few questions about her life…

Q: When did you start dancing?
A: I started dancing at the age of 4 and had my first solos at 6 (ballet/lyrical and tap).  
Danielle's first tap solo "Sea Cruise".  Her costume did not arrive in time, so they pulled one together at the last minute, but this didn't interfere with her performance.  She placed first for both tap and lyrical solos, and Sea Cruise won overall champion!.
Q: Where did you dance?
A: Everywhere!  I started off at Finger Lakes Dance Center in Geneva and Canandaigua, NY. During that time I was also taking extra tap classes in Rochester with Mr. Val Mates (who was a well know tap dancer in the area).  After they closed their doors I followed my dance teacher Ramona Reuter, who opened up her own studio High Attitude, to Clifton Springs, NY.  The studio eventually shut down and that’s when I ended up in Rochester, NY (with Ramona) at Lynn Scott’s School of Dance.  That is where I stayed until I graduated High School.  During my time at Lynn’s we drove an hour (one way) 5-6 times per week.  I have also attended the University at Buffalo (on a performance scholarship) and William Smith where I received my B.A in Dance and Art Education.  I have completed several Master classes in dance/art ed. from the University at Buffalo as well. 

Q: What styles did you train in?
A: A little bit of everything: Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Modern, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre & Pointe.

Q: We have heard that you competed at dance competitions—what styles of dance did you compete in?
A: Every year after age 8 I had a jazz, tap and lyrical solo. A few years I had a ballet solo instead of lyrical.  For my group dances we competed with Ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical. We did compete with Modern and Hip Hop once or twice.
Danielle attended the Summer Dance Festival World Championships (for USA, Canada, and Mexico).  She won the gold medal!
Q: Which conventions did you attend?
A: We attended a few here and there like NYCDA, Tremaine and Dance Masters of America.  The amount of conventions that exist now has probably tripled (or more) from when I was young.  There are so many options!  Instead of conventions my friends and I chose to go to NYC for a week and take classes at the Broadway Dance Center and STEPS. There were always classes going on around Rochester and whenever a show would come to town we would take those Master classes. Classes were with the performers from various Broadway Shows or Tap Dogs (my favorite). Some of the teachers I have been fortunate to take class with are: Savion Glover, Gus Girodano, A.C. Ciulla, Billy Angell, Sheila Barker, Jermaine Brown, Jose Delecruz, Omar Edwards, Alex Hasbany, Frank Hatchett, Ray Leeper, Mia Michaels, Jason Parsons, Richard Pierlon, Jason Samuels, Suzi Taylor, Janice Barringer, Timothy Draper, Tom Ralabate, Tyce Diorio, Maria Torres, Horace Turnbull, Wes Veldink, Baakari Wilder, Finis Jhung, Joe Lanteri, Mike Minery, Jimmy Tate and Michele Assaf to name a few.
Danielle with Jazz legend Gus Giordano (look him up if you don't know who he is!).
Q: Have you ever danced in a movie, video, commercial, or on stage (Broadway, etc)? If so what was it like?
A: There was that one time I danced back up for Celine Dion's Vegas show!   Oh, wait that was a dream! Hahaha!  Seriously though, I have had many amazing dance opportunities.  Not dancing with Celine, but fun nonetheless. Here are a few of my favorites (b/c they were so fun)!  
* I danced in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, GA. I was the youngest dancer there which was a little scary but everyone thought I was so cute and  gave me a lot of attention (who wouldn't like that?).  We performed in the opening and half-time show of the Bowl game.  It was broadcast live on TV.  My family (and their) friends taped the broadcast and you can see me waving to the camera on our way to the field for the half-time show.  
* I have had the opportunity to go on tour with Starpower Talent Competition for three weeks.  Traveling around the U.S and dancing in various venues in Orlando, Dallas and Las Vegas.  We took classes everyday with some of the best in the business at that time, had to learn new choreography for each of our performances, rehearsed A LOT and so much more. We performed as groups, duets and soloists  in each city..  It was a lot of work but it was a great experience.  I met a lot of great people, made a ton of friends, learned from the best in the business and was able to experience life as a professional dancer.
* I was in a Kodak Company Trade show commercial that was shown all over the world.   The commercial demonstrated the variable and variety of speed recording new to the industry.  For example, when we would jump or turn they were able to slow down or speed up our movement.  Think Matrix!
Danielle on the set of a Kodak Film commercial.  This commercial was shown at trade shows all over the world.
Q: Did you have a favorite dance that you have performed?
A: There were so many it’s hard to choose! I have a few memorable dances for the simple fact that I had a serious issue keeping my shoes on my feet.  I would somehow find a way to dance out of them.  “Stuff Like That There” was one of my jazz solos.  While doing my fouetté turns my shoe flew off of my foot…..luckily not hitting a judge in the face.  And then there was my tap solo “Sandman” and I stomped right out of my tap shoe.  There are more but I think you get the picture….issues with the shoes. :o)
Danielle always played the nerd whenever possible...
Q: Do you have a funny dance story you might like to share with us?
A:There is a recital video from when I was around 6 years old and I was standing behind my friend (middle of our ballet dance) waiting to chassé back to center stage and our arms were in second position.  I guess I was not impressed with how she was holding her arms (Palms up, elbows down, shoulders up) and I took it upon myself to “correct” her right in the middle of the dance.  I stepped out of line, fixed her arms and jumped right back (just in the nick of time).  It’s funny to watch your younger self correct a fellow classmate in the middle of a dance.  I guess teaching has always been a part of me. 

Q: If you were beginning dance today, what style would you be drawn to? 
A: I would probably focus more on contemporary.  This particular style wasn’t really popular and very new when I was growing up.  But with the help of dance shows like SYTYCD and you tube (also not around when I was younger) contemporary has become one of the most popular styles of dance.  I would also focus on Sonya Tayeh’s style of dance (Combat Jazz).  I just love her!

Q:  What do you think will be happening in the dance world in 20 years?
A: I could go on and on and on about that one.....but I'm not going to. I'm going to keep it simple and pick one thought out of many. An Olympic Sport!  How great would that be?!?!?!?!  Ballroom (dance sport) is the only genre right now being considered for future Olympic Games.  Some may say it will never happen…but hey you never know.

*Fun Fact!  Danielle is a two time Guinness Book of World Record Holder.  One for the 1996 Macy's Tap-O-Mania (largest number of tap dancers performing the same routine).   Tap-O-Mania took place in front of Macy's in NYC.  The other record is for the largest cowbell ensemble that just recently took place in Burlington on Church Street.  Jon Fishman, drummer for the band Phish, led them at the event.  All money raised went to the WaterWheel Foundation's Vermont Flood Recovery Fund.  

I also asked Danielle about tips for auditioning and competing. I will post these next week. Keep Reading!!