Magazine article Dance Teacher

Spotlight on Donna Aravena

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Spotlight on Donna Aravena

Article excerpt

co-owner of Seven Star School of Performing Arts, Brewster, NY (600 students)

Dance Teacher: Your school offers curriculum in dancing, acting and singing for students as young as 3. Why do you think it's important for young dancers to be skilled in all of these fields?

Donna Aravena: There used to be calls for "dancers who could sing" or "singers who could move." But now, it's the trained triple-threat performers that are getting all the jobs because there are so many of them out there. So it's very important to us that we offer vocal and dance training at a very young level. We put on a big musical theater production every year. Last year it was Beauty and the Beast, and this year's show is Aladdin. To be involved, children must take five hours of acting, singing and dance classes, plus rehearsal, every Saturday. If they're able to perform onstage now, they will be able to interview or speak in public later; they will be able to do anything.

DT: Has your studio added any new programs this year?

DA: We've added a class for adults with Prader-Willi syndrome [a rare genetic disorder]. A nearby organization called and asked if we would be willing to offer movement for them. We had to do some research on the syndrome, but now these people are loving it. They're all buying sweatshirts and other merchandise from the school. They offer so much love and warmth, and our other students give it right back to them. It's something that's good for the studio, and I like that we're giving them something that they would never get otherwise. …

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