With reality shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing With The Stars” still gaining in popularity, there’s a misconception that dance is all about flashy, ego-driven competition. That couldn’t be further from the truth at the New Tampa Dance Theatre (NTDT), located on Cross Creek Blvd. (across from Heritage Isles). Owner and artistic director Dyane Elkins IronWing focuses on creating an atmosphere where you and your child can have a drama-free dance experience.
This is an exciting year for Elkins IronWing, as she is celebrating three huge milestones. First, it’s the 20th anniversary for NTDT (which originally opened in Pebble Creek in 1995), the 15th anniversary for the studio’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet “The Nutcracker” and the 10th anniversary for the Sugar Plum Fairy Tea (see below).
“We have an amazing season ahead of us,” Elkins IronWing said. “We want to thank all of our trusting and loyal families over the years and the organizations that continually support us. Without their recognition and time, this wouldn’t be possible.”
NTDT opened in the Pebble Creek Collection on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., but in 2006, Elkins IronWing purchased land on Cross Creek Blvd, building and personally designing a 10,000-sq.-ft. professional dance training facility, with 7,500-sq.-ft. of it as a standalone dance space. It was the first and is still the largest dance training facility in New Tampa. Moving to the new, bigger location meant more classrooms, which allowed for a larger schedule selection and smaller class sizes.
Elkins IronWing’s love of dance is what led her to open her own dance theatre. A dancer herself, she says she started training at age five and eventually studied at the Ballet Metropolitan in New York City. She and her husband Troy IronWing continue to tour nationally with the Rhythm Extreme Performance Troupe, something they’ve been doing as a couple for the past 10 years. Troy also has been NTDT’s director of tap dance since 2003, and he leads beginning and intermediate adult tap classes.
Whether dancers are seeking recreational classes or pre-professional training, NTDT literally caters to everyone. Along with classical ballet, the studio offers full programs in modern, jazz, tap, hip hop, and creative movement, each of which has its own director and a specific syllabus to accomplish.
Teen/Adult classes include four eight-week sessions (from Sept.-May) of Jazz Funk, Adult Tap, and Ballet Barre Exercise. Children ages 3-4 can participate in the Early Childhood Program, ages 5-8 can participate in the Children’s Program, and ages 9-18 can participate in the Youth Program.
Some of the school’s spectacular instructors include modern dance director Carla Armstrong, who holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in dance from the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City, local choreographer Dreama Davidson, who directs hip hop dance classes, as well as both Dyane and Troy, who teach jazz and tap, respectively.
Kids Pre-Prof. Program
Students participating in NTDT’s pre-professional program become equally proficient in multiple art forms, from classical ballet to modern jazz and tap. This allows for more opportunities for success in the very competitive world of dance. Many NTDT students have been accepted into prestigious summer intensive programs, including School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theater in New York City, The Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago and the Boston Ballet. Two former NTDT students have even received full-ride scholarships to the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in Manhattan, NYC.
NTDT alumni also have gone on to professional careers in dance, with highly respected companies such as Pilobolus in Connecticut, Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company and Parsons Dance Company in New York City, Broadway and Off-Broadway productions and for the Walt Disney Company.
Arbor Greene resident Randi Guerne believes, “NTDT’s professional staff encourages strong technique while still having fun. As a parent, I feel this is very important, as it solidifies a positive self-image during their school years.” Randi’s daughter, Krista Guerne, a freshman honors student at Paul R. Wharton High, has been dancing at NTDT for 11 years. Randi says that because of her training, Krista has been accepted and has attended and performed with some of the top national dance companies during her summer breaks from school.
NTDT’s reputation is one of creating strong, professional dancers. However, Elkins IronWing says that 60 percent of the studio’s students are enrolled in the popular recreational programs. That means all of the students benefit from the same high-quality training that is the hallmark of NTDT.
And, the cost is more affordable than you think! Besides the monthly tuition, there is only a small costume rental fee for recitals. You won’t find any hidden costs, such as performance fees or the requirement to purchase advertising.
The NTDT facility has many special features, including maple flooring for the tap classes, 15-20 ft.-tall mirrored walls, student locker rooms and a large studio space that can accommodate up to 200 people. Because Elkins IronWing knows that dance is extremely strenuous on the body, NTDT also has sprung floors that provide shock absorption to protect the dancer’s joints. There’s even a physical therapist on site to ensure the health of the dancers. And, with many parents rushing home from work to get the kids to dance practice, they’ll especially appreciate the on-site café that offers hot meals, as well as drinks, snacks and even tasty ice cream.
New Tampa residents Paula and Ron Nelson say they enrolled their daughter Malia in Creative Movement classes at NTDT when she was only three years old. Now, six years later, she’s moved up to the youth program, where she’s enrolled in ballet, tap, jazz, modern and hip hop.
“As a result of the yearly recitals at the University of South Florida (USF), Malia loves performing on stage and has absolutely no stage fright,” Paula explains. “This has carried over to school, where she’s comfortable making presentations to her classmates and participating in yearly school plays.”
As a student at NTDT, all dancers have the opportunity to perform in the “Spring Production” and — through NTDT’s nonprofit-partner, Dance Theatre of Tampa (DTT) — they also can perform in the “Summer Concert Series.” This dance performance is held every June at USF and is one way DTT gives back to the community by providing more than 300 free tickets to NTDT’s corporate sponsors. local community supporters, alumni members and NTDT students
“The Nutcracker” is another performance sponsored by DTT. It’s an original production created by Elkins IronWing and her staff, based upon their interpretation of the Tchaikovsky classic. “The Nutcracker” is performed every December at USF’s College of the Arts Theater 1. Tickets go on sale October 20 for the December 19-21, 2014, performances. For the past five years, DTT also has been offering the community a sneak peak of “The Nutcracker” at the Shops at Wiregrass. This year’s free performances are on November 29 and December 5, 6, 12, 13 & 14.
DTT’s most popular fund raiser, “The Sugar Plum Fairy Tea” — which will be held Sunday, December 7, 2 p.m.-4 p.m., at the USF Gibbons Alumni Center — quickly sells out each year. Participants enjoy a light lunch, scrumptious desserts (including a chocolate fountain), exciting giveaways, a sneak preview of “The Nutcracker,” and an opportunity to dance with Clara (the lead role of the young girl who receives the beloved Nutcracker as a Christmas gift) and Clara’s “party friends.” Each year, a portion of the proceeds from the Tea are donated to The Ronald McDonald House Charities in South Tampa.
It’s easy to see why NTDT was voted 2014’s “Best Dance Theater” in the Northeast area for the second year in a row by The Tampa Tribune’s Northeast Edition. Elkins IronWing explains, “It’s all about the children at NTDT, always has been and always will be. We are a company that enables children to succeed. The key is setting high expectations all while having fun and building self-confidence.”
Through personal attention and professional expertise, the NTDT faculty is committed to providing a positive educational experience based on their core principles of respect, responsibility, and teamwork, Elkins IronWing explains. Students gain self-esteem, determination and a strong work ethic — skills that allow them to succeed and attain their future goals. “I believe this has carried us into our amazing celebration that will continue through the next 20 years,” she says. “I look forward to an even brighter future. The best is yet to come!”
NTDT offers year-round free trial classes for prospective dancers of all ages. Check out the fantastic lineup of fall classes by calling 994-NTDT (6838). Classes began August 11, and you’ll find a coupon for free registration on page 18 of this issue. That’s a $45 savings! To take a tour of the facility or to rent it for a meeting, party or function, visit NTDT at 10701 Cross Creek Blvd. For more info, visit NewTampaDanceTheatre.com.