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Davidsen Middle Debuts New Dance Studio

There have been quite a few changes at Davidsen Middle School this fall.

For starters, there’s a new name, Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts. But the school also has a new principal, Stacy Arena, a new dance program and a newly hired dance instructor.

And now Davidsen’s new dance studio is complete.

This year sixth grade students can choose dance as an elective while seventh and eighth grade students have the option to choose it as an elective or take it instead of PE class.

Dance Teacher Julie Mac, who is building the dance program, says she is amazed by the progress of the students, many who are taking dance for the first time. Her students will be showcasing what they’ve learned this semester on Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. at the Alonso High School Theater. “I want to be known as the place to come for dance – one where students can get a full dance education,” she said. “We want to be known for students who have dance knowledge, have positive attitudes and are creative. We welcome all levels of students.”

The dance classes follow a state curriculum for academics. All students learn about the history and cultural importance of dance as well as vocabulary. They will have to take end-of-semester exams. In addition to the academic side of dance, students have four days of dance class weekly, including ballet barre, ballet center and modern or jazz. Fridays are reserved for trying out different types of dance, including hip hop, salsa and African. One of her class periods is reserved for students with special needs.

Mac said that all students can benefit from dance. “Dance requires discipline. You have to focus. It is good for your health and your posture and involves patterns and memorization which can cross over to other classes.”

Originally from Clearwater, Mac holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Studies with a minor in Theater from the University of South Florida, where her studies included Choreography, Music for Dance, Dance Kinesiology, Dance History and Stage Practicum. She worked as a dancer at Busch Gardens, appearing in their main stage shows before moving to New York City to expand her horizons. There she served on the Dance Faculty of Broadway Training Center and was the dance instructor for the Fordham University Fitness Center as well as Company Director for the Steffi Nossen Dance Foundation in White Plains.

After the birth of their second child, Mac and her husband started thinking about moving back to the Tampa area. She knew the time was perfect when the opportunity at Davidsen came open. Mac said the new dance studio is, “a dance teacher’s dream with three mirrored walls, a large cushioned dance floor, curtains and two dressing areas.”

Now. she would like to build a booster group to support the dance program’s needs, like costumes. “We are borrowing costumes from Orange Grove because we don’t have a budget for costumes, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to form a booster group to help us build a costume closet and get dance uniforms for those who can’t afford them.”

The dance program at Davidsen makes it a choice school for the district, meaning any student in the county can apply to the school if they want to join the dance program.

"We are excited to add a dance program to our Center for the Arts,” said Arena. “This is another way to meet the diverse needs of our learners."

“Anyone can dance,” said Mac. “Everyone should.”

By Marcy Sanford

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