By Bonnie Mason | September 14
Dance has gained popularity in recent years with television shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance?” attracting millions of viewers of all ages.
Dyane Elkins IronWing, the artistic director and owner of the New Tampa Dance Theatre (NTDT) on Cross Creek Blvd., also has made her mark through dance. Dyane and her staff of highly trained and experienced dance instructors have been teaching dance — and life-lessons — to New Tampa and Tampa Bay-area residents for the past 19 years.
The first dance studio in the New Tampa area, NTDT opened in the Pebble Creek Collection back in 1995. Then, in 2006, Elkins IronWing purchased a parcel of land on Cross Creek Blvd. and built a 10,000-sq.-ft. building, with 7,500-sq.-ft. to be used as a stand-alone dance-training facility. NTDT still is the largest dance-training studio in the area and, in its largest studio space, can accommodate an audience of 200 people. Other unique features include locker rooms, maple flooring for the tap program, mirrored walls at proper dance height and even a café. And, also housed in the large space are costumes for 16 unique performances — all created by NTDT’s very own costume seamstress.
Elkins IronWing started dancing when she was 5 years old and hasn’t stopped. She studied at the Ballet Metropolitan in New York and toured with Rhythm Extreme Performance Troupe for 10 years with her husband, Troy IronWing, who has been the school’s director of tap dance since 2003. In addition to tap programs for young dancers, Troy also leads NTDT’s beginning and intermediate adult tap classes, which recently started new sessions.
Second-To-None Kids’ Programs
New Tampa resident Angie Sposato, whose daughter Taylor has been studying with NTDT for ten years, says, “What started as a fun activity for a toddler has turned into a passion for the world of dance. Taylor started dancing at (NTDT) at the age of three. Almost a decade later, not only has she matured into a talented dancer, she also is an honor student and community volunteer with a desire to help others. The staff at NTDT is not only teaching the fundamentals of dance, but also developing life skills that will (help Taylor become) a responsible, self-confident person.”
Recently voted the 2013 Best Dance Theater in the Northeast area by The Tampa Tribune, Elkins IronWing says that NTDT is still the dance studio of choice in the New Tampa area for both recreational dancers and career-focused dancers looking for an intensive training facility.
“Our pre-professional track is for students who are at the point of choosing dance over other activities,” says Elkins IronWing. “Around 11 or 12 years of age is generally when dancers know if they want to focus on the art of dance.”
Aspiring dancers on the pre-professional track major in the study of ballet technique, she says. However, they also are cross-trained in other forms of dance, including modern, jazz, tap and hip-hop. Learning the different forms of dance allows for versatility and opens up many possibilities for students as they move into the next phase of their dance study. Elkins IronWing has seen several students achieve successful careers in dance over the years — going on to the School of American Ballet in New York City, the Boston Ballet and even on a Walt Disney World national tour. Recently, several NTDT students were offered scholarships to study at year-round dance schools: one dancer earned a scholarship to Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in New York City; two students received scholarships to the HARID Conservatory in Boca Raton, FL; one dancer was offered a scholarship to attend the Sarasota Ballet School and another was offered a scholarship to the Nutmeg Conservatory in Torrington, CT.
“Students choosing to further their studies in dance and being accepted by a year-round program is a true testament to what we do here,” says Elkins IronWing.
Affordable Recreational Dancing, Too
But, it’s not all about a career in dance at NTDT. Elkins IronWing says many students take dance classes for the sheer enjoyment. Whether students begin their dance exploration at three years old or 60, NTDT is the place to learn. In addition to an array of classes, Elkins IronWing says that her prices are extremely competitive. And, most important, there are no hidden costs with your class tuition.
“We are more affordable than many families think,” says Elkins IronWing. “This is a great way for kids to experience the art of dance.”
In fact, there is a coupon for free registration in NTDT’s ad in this issue — a $40 value! And, children who attend preschool at Bright Horizons (in Hunter’s Green) or Creative World (in Pebble Creek), which are both located near NTDT, are offered to participate in dance at the facility.
Upcoming Performance Events
The Dance Theatre of Tampa (DTT), the non-profit partner of NTDT, is in its 13th season. Elkins IronWing established the non-profit for students considering dance as a career and as a way to give back to the community. In fact, DTT recently was honored as the Non-Profit of Choice for the New Tampa area by Brighton Collectibles.
“We are honored and grateful to be selected as New Tampa Area’s non-profit of choice through Brighton Collectibles’ Love Kids Across America Campaign — a program designed for children and the arts through local Brighton stores — and we look forward to our continued partnership with Brighton Collectibles at the Shops at Wiregrass,” say Elkins IronWing.
NTDT students have multiple performance opportunities throughout the year, in a series of original, full -length productions, including DTT’s “The Nutcracker,” the Summer Concert Series, and the annual spring production.
Performances of DTT’s 14th Annual “Nutcracker” (the largest and longest-running “Nutcracker” performance in the Tampa Bay area) are scheduled for December 20-22 at the University of South Florida’s (USF) College of the Arts Theater 1.
NTDT’s 9th annual Sugar Plum Fairy Tea will be held on Sunday, December 8, 2 p.m.-4 p.m., at the USF Gibbons Alumni Center. Proceeds from the Sugar Plum Fairy Tea go toward guest teachers and choreographers for NTDT dancers, and a portion is donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay.
Tickets for both the full-length “Nutcracker” performances and the Sugar Plum Fairy Tea go on sale October 21 at TicketMaster.com and at New Tampa Dance Theatre.
And, beginning on Black Friday (November 29), and throughout the holiday season, NTDT students will take the stage at the Shops at Wiregrass mall in Wesley Chapel for 16 free community performances of various segments, from the full-length production of “The Nutcracker.”
For more information about specific performance dates and times, visit TheShopsAtWiregrass.com.
“Our programs are designed to help students develop an appreciation for diverse disciplines, by encouraging self-expression, artistry, and self-discovery in addition to technical proficiency,” says Elkins IronWing. Rebeca Canchani, an award-winning choreographer and principal dancer with Ballet Concierto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for 10 years (and currently with CODA 21 Puerto Rico), agrees.
“As soon as I walked in the studio, it felt like walking into a professional dance company,” Canchani says. “I was super impressed with the groups I taught; the students showed a high level of commitment, discipline and very strong technique. What impressed me the most was their versatility of movement thanks to their training in every dance style. I had the opportunity to teach them classical and contemporary and they were as technically strong in ballet as they were fluid in contemporary. It’s so refreshing to see students at such a young age with that level of professionalism. It was a pleasure to work with such beautiful young dancers and I would love to return and set choreography for them.”
Shannon Wilary, a New Tampa resident whose daughters Brynn, 9, and Kate, 5, study at NTDT, says, “After searching North Tampa for a dance studio that provided quality instruction while offering a variety of classes and times for our oldest daughter, we decided upon NTDT. After one class, she was hooked and enrolling her at NTDT has been one of the best decisions that we have made as parents. Her instruction in various art forms has surpassed our expectations and her enthusiasm and passion for dance has deepened while learning proper technique and gaining self-confidence and poise. Most important is that she has fun and leaves each class with a smile.”
Wilary adds that, “The difference with NTDT is that they really do, and can, meet the needs of any dancer. Whether it’s our youngest daughter who takes only one class or the dancer that’s there five days a week, each is directed and guided by Dyane and the rest of the knowledgeable and caring staff to be the best that they can be.”
The New Tampa Dance Theatre is now registering for fall classes. To schedule your free trial class, or to tour the facilities (located at 10701 Cross Creek Blvd.), call 994-NTDT (6838) or visit NewTampaDanceTheatre.com.