Ashley Daychak Had a Plan for Winning Studio of the Year

Performing Dance Arts; photo courtesy of Daychak

Five years ago, Ashley Daychak of Performing Dance Arts in Toronto set a goal to win The Dance Awards 2018 Studio of the Year. Each year in preparation, she went to Break The Floor Nationals and watched the competition. She watched and learned what worked and what didn't, and asked detailed questions of her peers who had previously earned the honor. She would apply what she learned each season to her rehearsals and technique classes. This past summer in Orlando, she made it happen.

"I was very patient," Daychak says. "I knew what needed to be done. I groomed everyone properly and got the right people into the studio when I needed to. I wanted to go up onstage and show a complete, well-rounded body of work to all of these artists who I admire so much. I feel like we were able to do that."

The development of that well-rounded body of work began with getting everyone's technique on the same level. "From the back to the front we needed to look totally solid," Daychak says. "I didn't want to have to choreograph around anyone who couldn't keep up, and I didn't want to have to break the team up in any way. I wanted to do this as a family."

Her five competition teams (65 dancers total) trained four to five hours a day, every other day of the week, and Daychak says they developed a stamina and focus that was unbelievable, even to her. "By the time we went out there and performed, we were able to just have fun and enjoy the experience," she says. "We had put the work in ahead of time and were totally prepared, so there was nothing to worry about."

GO-TO IN-CLASS TEACHING TOOLS "We use yoga blocks and a series of different weighted Pilates balls. We also use markers to write down counts, daily reminders and diagrams of the formations on the mirrors."

DAILY BREAKFAST "In the morning, I typically have hard-boiled egg whites, an English muffin with peanut butter and at least three cups of coffee before I leave the house!"

FAVORITE FITNESS ROUTINE "I stay in shape by going to the gym two to three times a week. I like to work one-on-one with my trainer, and I try to keep that as consistent as possible. I find that working out is a great way to relieve stress and have some 'me' time."

MUST-HAVE TEACHING ATTIRE "I typically wear Adidas, Aritzia TNA or Lululemon brands. I like to wear leggings or formfitted sweats with a tank or T-shirt, and I'm always layered with a sweater—generally one from our PDA studio."

Clockwise from top left: Courtesy Ford Foundation; Christian Peacock; Nathan James, Courtesy Gibson; David Gonsier, courtesy Marshall; Bill Zemanek, courtesy King; Josefina Santos, courtesy Brown; Jayme Thornton; Ian Douglas, courtesy American Realness

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