Magazine article Dance Teacher

High Five with Jami Artiga of the Dance Zone

Magazine article Dance Teacher

High Five with Jami Artiga of the Dance Zone

Article excerpt

Although The Dance Zone in Henderson, Nevada, attends a large event only every other year and opts for a smaller competition closer to home in alternating years. Nationals is always a year-end extravaganza. Whether making a cross-country journey or a quick road trip, co-owner/director Jami Artiga prepares her 50-member team with passion and professionalism.

How do you prepare for Nationals?

Our last regional competition is at the beginning of May, and then it's recital time at the studio and the comp kids get a break. But literally the Monday after the recital, we take off running with competition preparation. We have rehearsals every other day and technique classes on the alternate days. We look back at how the routines did at regionals and remaster the numbers. It's so important that we focus on keeping up the dancers' technique. Since many Nationals competitions are accompanied by classes, we want our students to feel good in the classes they take. That way they can be recognized in those classes, not just when they're onstage.

We also spend time making sure the dancers are in the right mind frame for competition. We ask them to look back on the year: "Have you worked hard all year? Have you accomplished your goals? Are you ready for the obstacles that will arise next year?" Then we can move forward and make it all happen at Nationals.

What are the biggest challenges you face concerning Nationals?

You have to help your dancers and their families find a balance between family vacations and extra rehearsals for Nationals. The dancers are willing to spend every waking moment in the studio, but if you don't allow for their families to take some time away, they'll get burnt out before the kids. You have to offer the best of both worlds and keep everyone motivated and excited without overwhelming them. It's not easy.

What are your rules and expectations while you're at Nationals? …

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