It’s a no brainer…

Hello, DEL Family!!

My name is Melinda; I am writing to you from Woodbridge, VA. I am an owner and instructor of a small dance studio, 19 years strong, focusing on the art of dance. We do not compete, which is a rarity these days for a private dance studio. Instead, I teach my students dance technique covering Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Creative Movement, emphasizing dance history, terminology, and how each of the genres connect to each other. My students range from age two to 66 plus!!   Besides showcasing two recitals a year, my students are requested to perform throughout our community at various events.

I am a DEL Alumni, completing the three-week Summer Intensive back in 2016. I have also attended several DEL workshops, to include (I believe four) of the last six Movement Sentence Choirs (MSCs). After this most recent MSC, Jody and her staff were in awe that I keep attending every year – all the way from Virginia – they say! To me, it’s a no brainer. Why wouldn’t I?  In my eyes, DEL is a life-changing program, literally.  At the time DEL came into my life, it was a point that I needed something turn my dance life around.

And that something was meeting Jody, Deborah, and Jen as they came to present PS Dance at University of Maryland. I was there attending several dance courses at the time. Our faculty always encouraged us to sit in and listen to visiting guests and/or attend workshops and even though this wasn’t an actual dancing workshop, I was intrigued to attend as it dealt with working with children. I was so glad I did as it led to hearing about the Summer Intensive (which I enrolled and attended). I had a quick talk with Jody after their presentation and knew I had to get to know her and the program better. Teaching teachers in such a program based on allowing everyone and any one to dance was music to my ears. Because at the time, I was struggling with an instructor in my studio whose style of teaching was threatening her students. Half of our customers/students liked her and were being taught by her had no issues with her style of teaching, but the other half of our customers/students, did. A serious A-HA moment for me at the intensive was meeting Dr. Duggan and hearing her say her famous words:

“When working with kids… Say what you mean… Mean what you say… But don’t say it mean…'”

I believe I cried when I heard those words come from her. I decided then and there to let that instructor in my studio go. Why did I even toy with the idea to keep her that long? That is when I realized that not every teacher is a “good” teacher and especially should be allowed to teach young ones. I also realized that what I WAS doing for the last 15 years at the time was what I needed to continue doing. I was questioning myself at the time as that instructor was pushing me to go into competitions and do other things that I was not comfortable with. Finding and attending DEL at the time I did confirmed in my heart that dance IS ART, not an avenue for competition.

So why do I keep coming back to DEL? Like I said, it’s a no brainer. I also bring my young dancers with me whenever the opportunity allows. Giving them the chance to dance and rub elbows with true dance artists proves to them that dance is so much bigger than how many pirouettes they can do or can they do more than their friend or are their splits better. Yes, we work on those, however, I don’t ever want to hear them say it to one another. I would rather them remember or say that they got to work with a unique Modern/HipHop dance group from New York City, learning a technique different from anything we’ve ever learned before.

Thank you, Jody and DEL Faculty.  You all truly have changed my life.

Melinda Kasal-Canty