That’s Dancing Wins Big in 2013
Interview with Andrea LaMaina, co-owner of That’s Dancing
Local dance studio That’s Dancing has something to celebrate once again this year! While some dance studios would consider it a once-in-a-blue moon occurrence to have students win in national competitions, it’s becoming a regular, annual thing for That’s Dancing. This year they are extremely proud of their dance students Jillian Medero, Courtney Pirozzi and Brenan Gonzalez, who all captured national titles of honor. I asked Andrea LaMaina, who co-owns That’s Dancing along with her sister Michele Walsh, about this year’s success.
How do you prepare your dancers for National at That’s Dancing?
That’s Dancing: Dancers are constantly training. These kids are dancing 5 days a week. They supplement their classes with private lessons and coaching. It is a huge time commitment, but none of them seem to mind one bit! They typically want to stay longer!
Tell us about this year’s winners and their new titles.
TD: Jillian Medero, age 17, won the title of Miss Onstage America National. (These Nationals were held in Orlando, Florida this year). She won overall best technical execution nationally. She’s also the Circle of the Stars award recipient.
Brenan Gonzalez, age 10, won the title of Junior Mister Dance of Florida. He represented FL Chapter 2 at the National Competition for Dance Masters of America (DMA Nationals) in New Orleans.
Courtney Pirozzi, age 9, won the title of Petite Miss Dance of Florida. She represented FL Chapter 2 at the National Competition for Dance Masters of America in New Orleans.
Brenan and Courtney also did a duet that was awarded a Platinum adjudication and first place duo/trio at the event.
Meanwhile, Courtney Pirozzi and Alexander Thomas of That’s Dancing, were chosen as dancers to perform in a music video with recording artist Spencer Kane. See the video below or by visiting this link.
What are their individual strengths…what they do best?
TD: Jillian has been dancing at That’s Dancing for 15 years. She is an extremely well-rounded dancer. She is strong and trains in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary and acrobatics. Jillian’s dance career has brought her many regional titles and many successes. This was her first National title and she was elated. It is definitely an honor well-earned, as Jillian is an extremely dedicated dancer. She is consistent and hard working – she is the kid that many younger dancers admire and aspire to be like. I can understand why the younger dancers feel this way about her. Loyal, loving, dedicated, disciplined … she is an all around standout. Jillian plans to pursue a higher education degree as a dance major after she graduates from Dreyfoos School of the Arts as a dance major this school year. We are so proud of everything she has accomplished at our studio in the past 15 years. She is like a daughter to us.
Brenan has a contagious personality. His oldest sister trained at That’s Dancing and earned a college minor in dance. She is now teaching dance and auditioning for companies and other dance related jobs. His other older sister also trains at That’s Dancing and is going into 11th grade. Brenan has dance in his blood. He is creative, energetic and craves to learn new information. He possesses a very unique style for her age. We joke and say Brenan has “swag!”
Courtney cross trains between dance and gymnastics. She is a strong gymnast who possesses great determination and drive. She is an articulate little dancer who pays close attention to detail. This is a strength that sets her apart from other dancers her age.
What other valuable things do the dancers gain from taking part in DMA Nationals?
TD: The nationals experience is extremely valuable to the growth of these dancers. They take part in learning opening number choreography, they take numerous dance classes in various styles of dance from well-known master teachers and they get to dance with other dancers who are training on the same level from all over the country. It is really neat to see them making friends with other dancers and keeping those new relationships alive through Facebook and Instagram! The dance world is very small, so it is valuable to have friends in this business!
Did the dancers have siblings this year, who also competed?
TD: Brenan has an older sister Adison, who traveled to New Orleans to compete and take classes at Nationals. She enjoyed her experience and it was awesome to have her there to help stretch Brenan and provide support!
Are they all a part of the Fusion Force Dance Company?
TD: Yes, all of the students are on our competitive dance team. FFDC is an auditioned group of dancers who are looking for more performance opportunities and a chance to be part of a competitive team.
What kind of a commitment is it for the kids who do Fusion Force Dance Company?
TD: Our team meets every Saturday for three hours. Many dancers are involved in additional choreography that is rehearsed at different times throughout the week. All dance company members are required to take 5 technique classes through the week in order to be eligible for the team.
What’s unique about That’s Dancing, as there are so many dance companies in our area?
TD: At That’s Dancing, we strive to maintain a studio that gives individual attention and proper technique training to students in a warm and friendly atmosphere. We believe that a dancer is a product of his/her teachers. The development of a dancer is paralleled through the relationship of expert and professional teachers and their association with their students. We believe in balance. The dance world is ever changing and dancers of this generation need to be so well-rounded. Most importantly, they need to have a clear head. We need to give them tools to succeed in LIFE, not just dance! We train to INSPIRE … to give kids the opportunities and the courage to face their smallest or biggest challenges. We believe in our students and help them to find their strengths. That is our job as responsible adults – not just dance teachers.
Tell us about the dance instructors who worked most closely with these three dancers.
TD: Andrea LaMaina worked with both Jillian and Brenan. Jessica Dinsky worked closely with Courtney Pirozzi. Jessica is an alumni of That’s Dancing and Fusion Force Dance Company, trained by Andrea LaMaina and Michele Walsh. She attended New WorldSchool of the Arts in Miami, where she received her BFA in dance.
Tell us about the parents. What does it take to be a parent of a dancer who competes nationally?
TD: Besides the monetary investments, parents of a competitive dancer need to be supportive and positive people. These kids apply enough pressure to themselves and having an overbearing parent does not mix.
How does dance help in a person’s overall development?
TD: Dance is an awesome tool to help with confidence and overall self-discipline.