Christy Curtis understands that being part of a competition team requires a big commitment from everyone involved. That’s why, as the owner/director of CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina, she encourages an all-inclusive, family-oriented environment. And when the studio’s dancers take top honors at regional and national events—which they’ve been doing for the past five years—everyone gets in on the celebration.
What is your studio’s philosophy? We make sure the younger dancers are simply enjoying dance. As they get older, we give them the tools they need technically and stylistically to be able to go on to a professional dance career, if that’s what they choose to do. I also aim to have my students be the most well-rounded dancers at every competition and convention we attend. There’s not a certain style the dancers always win with. I make sure they excel in every style. That includes tap.
What sorts of things do you do to promote a sense of community among your dancers and their parents? We kick the year off with a parent get-together so they can all meet each other, and we invite parents to observe classes at special times throughout the year. We also have a pep rally with the dancers and their families before we send everyone off to competition, and we have sleepovers with the dancers at the studio. Last year, two dancers from the studio were on “So You Think You Can Dance,” so our teachers, students and their families all got together at a local pizza place to watch the show. At the end of the year, we hold a banquet for the team at a local country club. Everyone gets dressed up and we celebrate our season with a slideshow presentation and awards.
How do you ease your students back into classes after summer? This year, we held ballet boot camp for the competition kids in August before their regular classes began. It is very technique-based and includes some Pilates. This gets their minds focused on the technical elements of dancing before they start learning their performance routines.
How do you decide which events to attend? I’m not a big fan of doing the same thing every year. Change is good. We attend several regional events, and I wait to see what everyone’s individual summer plans are before making Nationals plans. I don’t make Nationals mandatory for anyone and I don’t require that everyone attend one event together. Each dancer should pursue what she feels is in her best interest. One dancer might choose to attend New York City Dance Alliance to go for a title. Someone else might want to go to West Coast Dance Explosion. Some dancers will opt to go to a summer ballet intensive.
What is your advice to studio directors who are attending competition for the first time? Remember that your vision is important. Stay true to yourself and don’t give in to what you think you have to do to win. Trends change, people change. If you believe in the quality of your work, the parents and kids at your studio will believe in you. You’re all working together toward the same goal.
Photo: Guest artist Lauren Adams takes a break with students. (courtesy of CC & Co. Dance Complex)