Eleven-year-old London Buckstein – arched back, arm raised and foot forward – takes a deep breath and gazes out at the audience as she begins her first solo performance for Stars Dance Studio.
Hearing the soft ping of a piano key, she reaches out and spins in contemporary style.
At 45 seconds, a violin joins the piano, increasing the tempo of the music and the dancer.
At the 2:33 mark, she finishes by tiptoeing backwards towards the side drape. One more step towards his dream.
“The technique is a combination of contemporary moves and a few ballet moves, and the music gets more dramatic as you go,” said London’s mother, Valerie Zucker. “She’s working on her next solo, which will be much more upbeat and uplifting.”
“So You Think You Can Dance” contestant, “Dance Moms” choreographer behind the studio
Founded in Miami by Victor Smalley and Angel Armas, Stars Dance Studio teaches dancers of all levels, from 3 to 18 years old.
Smalley, a dancer, choreographer and model, was among the top 12 contestants on the sixth season of Fox’s competition show “So You Think You Can Dance.” Armas is a Cuban-born choreographer. After the partners opened the studio in 2007, their popularity and fame grew when they were featured on the reality series “Dance Moms Miami,” which aired on Lifetime in 2012.
Today, Smalley and Armas offer master classes and choreography sessions internationally. They have also worked with many dancers who have had roles on Broadway, television and in top ballet companies.
They have become highly sought after in the dance world for their technique and contemporary choreography, which has helped their students win consistently at regional and national dance competitions. Their main goal is to educate their students to become better dancers and professionals.
“We work constantly every day, educating and enabling our dancers to unleash the artist within, giving them the right tools, movements and techniques to be accepted into any audition, college, company or job in the world. ‘future,” said Victor’s mother, Mayra. Smalley, who is director of business operations for Stars Dance.
Aspiring dancers around the world are taking Stars classes via Zoom, and parents are happy their kids are learning skills and moving their bodies.
“Kids today need more than school,” Zucker said. “They need an outlet. Get them away from their phone, give them positive energy and friendships. The dance paves the way for college scholarships and even work.
Zucker is grateful to the Boca studio because it raises the bar for its dancers every year. She said she has seen growth and increased passion for London.
“While managing such a busy schedule can be difficult at times, it also teaches children how to manage their time and go through each day with passion and determination,” she said. “They meet friends and have fun like a big family of dancers. group.”
Instruction is available in many types of dance, including ballet, contemporary, lyrical, jazz, ballroom, tap, hip-hop, modern, acrobatic and pointe, as well as stretching, conditioning, technique, improvisation and choreography.
The studio teaches students “to become professionals by being disciplined and working hard to become the dancer and the human being they want to be,” said Mayra Smalley.
Victor Smalley’s stint on “So You Think You Can Dance”, which aired in 2009, allowed him to showcase his talent around the world. This helped cement his reputation as the best contemporary dance teacher for male dancers, attracting male students to the studio.
Stars Dance Studio’s profile has been raised after being tapped for “Dance Moms Miami.” Smalley and Armas did eight episodes, and the dancers traveled from all over the country to dance at Stars.
“We have fans everywhere,” said Mayra Smalley. “Victor and Angel travel every weekend to different cities giving master classes and doing group and solo choreography with get-togethers where they sign autographs.”
But they don’t neglect their dancers closer to home.
In pursuit of a winning solo, London spent three months preparing. She needed more practice, so the studio gave her extra time and she worked on weekends.
“London’s goals are to become a talented, versatile dancer who can compete in all types of competitions with the dance studio as a group and also with solos for herself,” Zucker said. “This studio is set apart because of the lifelong commitment to dance by Angel and Victor and for that matter, Mayra as well. Their commitment to taking children to another level of skill sets them apart.
For more information, call Stars Dance Studio at 786-230-4981.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Boca’s Stars Dance Studio Led by Choreographers on ‘Dance Moms Miami’