"HEY SUZ- Walk in MY Shoes"
Have you ever wanted to walk in the shoes of another person for the day? “Hey Suz, Walk in My Shoes” a blog series I started to follow different business owners and people of interest around for the day to learn what it’s REALLY like behind the scenes.
Dance on Q: Maria Quezada
Thursday December 13, 2012
Tonight I took out my "dancing" shoes and joined owner of Dance on Q, Maria Quezada.
Maria was born and raised in upper Manhattan. She started dancing at five years old. She has danced ever since, only taking slight breaks during her pregancy's with her three children. Her kids were "raised in the studio", says Maria. Two of them now teach at the studio. Her oldest daughter Cyndi was teaching a younger class while I was there and her middle child, Alyssa was co-teaching with Maria. Alyssa is also on the NY Knicks dance team!
My Walk Begins
Maria's day began with a morning trip to NYC with 6 of her students. They took two classes at The Broadway Dance Center. One of the classes was taught by "Victor" from the TV Show - Dance Moms Miami. I met Maria at the South Brunswick studio, she has a second location in Monroe, NJ. There were three studio rooms of which all were occupied with students all night long. On an average night she has between 50-70 students coming and going. Maria is definitely a hands on owner, she teaches 6-7 classes a night. Her first class was a private class with a student who was learning her solo for "competition" style dance. Dance on Q has over 200 students of which approximately 50 are part of the competition team. Samantha, the soloist student, has been training with Maria for the past 6 years. I watched as Maria and Samantha worked together. Maria choreographed and Samantha picked up the moves quickly. They spoke in 'dance terms' and practiced the routine over and over again, perfecting each move.
Her next class was with 40 of her competition team dancers. Their ages ranged from 9-17 years old. I spoke with a few of the girls, Hannah, Stephanie and Nia. They informed me that they practice at the studio every night but Friday night for approximately 4 hours a night, this includes dancing on the weekends. They are very school focused as well as mindful of the time and effort they need to put in to dance. They said Maria has a strict "no competitiveness among each other philosophy." The girls each rattled off what each others strengths were.They said Maria has taught them that they each good at different things and that they are all equal. They spoke so highly of their teacher praising Maria for the way she mentors the girls.
Maria said "We do a lot of community service. I teach the students to be responsible for their actions, the importance of being on time, disipline, structure, budgeting their time, focus on school work, communication as well as family values. Since we spend so much time together we are each others extended family."
I was amazed at Maria's memory. She went from class to class choreographing and teaching and remembering each move. Even the dancers amazed me with how quickly they caught on. The Dance on Q recital is in June at Montgomery High School. There are over 1000 costumes ordered for the recital and for the girls who are in the dance competitions.
Dance on Q: is a fun place. The girls obviously had a connection to not only to their teachers but to each other. While some choose to take it to the level of competition and investing a lot of time, there were also plenty of kids there to take just 1 class because they just want to dance for fun. The studio welcomes all types of dancers.
Does the Shoe Fit?
I learned today that being the owner of an dance studio means dealing with late hours. Also, it means you should have an amazing memory, organization skills, as well as a lot of stamina. Maria was moving and grooving for hours on end. I tried a hip-hop class taught by her daughter Alyssa and quite honestly I couldn't keep up. The girls were amazing. Thankfully they were also super nice and sweet. Many girls sent me a smile of 'encouragement.'
So Maria, I think I will hang up my "dancing shoes" and leave them to you. Though I will proudly wear my new "Dance on Q" t shirt that was given to me and dance around my house with my children when no one else is watching!
Written By: Suzanne O’Rourke LocalChatBox@yahoo.com