Not Pictured - Daniel Maloney, Dance Parent of the Year
Each year, I select one dancer to win a full tuition scholarship at my dance studio. The winner is announced at our Saturday Matinee performance, and spends the next year volunteering as an ambassador of the company.
Three years ago this fellow popped into a flexibility and conditioning class for an extra workout. At the time, we had quite a few teenage boys he looked up to that danced. He worked hard and joined a class to learn some limbering, tumbling, and balance skills. The next year, my teenage boys all went different ways, as often happens when teens are in high school and get jobs or have other sports.
When we closed the studio for the pandemic, Jader learned routines and volunteered to be in practice videos to keep young boys motivated to dance at home. He wore silly hats and crazy outfits in some, and humored me with all sorts of social media trends.
Jader told me that he hoped to set an example for younger boys, like our veteran teens had for him, and started helping more whenever he noticed younger boys were in the building. That spring, he started doing Pas de Deux (the dance of two) with his sister. He did extra practices with Darryl and started extra workouts with his dad with high goals of the Superman Lift (also known as the Dirty Dancing). Over the course of the year, he started to master various skills that we used to accent different routines in our productions and events. We met frequently to develop a list of lifts and age appropriate partnering moves that could be used at the youth recreational level. He helped teach two other young men safe technique for the opening number of our production last year with hopes to inspire more boys to join dance.
Jader joined a jazz class in addition to acrobatics the season I started formal skill testing and level placement in all styles. He practiced frequently at home, and checked off skill after skill in classes. When he didn’t get something on the first try, he’d come back shortly after and politely ask for another evaluation. His dedication was inspirational and influential to those in his classes.
Last summer, he interviewed for a Teaching Assistant position. He spent the season teaching balance, strength, stamina, and flexibility. He assisted in a long list of classes with young gentlemen, and asked questions as well as posed ideas to increase masculinity in movement while respecting the historical etiquette of each style of dance. He spent many classes giving 1:1 attention to special / high needs dancers, and always jumped in when a substitute teacher was needed. His positive attitude and willingness to help with anything at the studio quickly became contagious.
Last fall, he sat down with me and his football schedule to make sure he upheld his commitment agreement within our attendance policy. He worked it out with his football coach and made dance his main priority sport to keep his teaching position. He opted to level down in Jazz to accommodate his game schedule, but asked for regular skill testing to return to his goal level when football season ended. Jader demonstrated to me that he understood that dance is a full year commitment, and did a fantastic job managing his goals between short season sports. He finished the season with just two absences (which he had notified the studio at the beginning of the season that they were football games), AND he made up with homework assignments.
This winter, he broke his toe right at a growth plate. He came to me with a list of modifications and asked me not to be any easier on him than a person with full use of both feet. He mastered skill after skill on one leg, or his hands. He never missed a teaching shift that he was scheduled, nor stopped smiling. He followed all of the safety precautions I advised, and still managed to jump into extra activities whenever presented the opportunity. When medically cleared to dance on that foot again, he practiced frequently enough at home that one wouldn’t notice either leg to be weaker.
This spring, Jader volunteered Friday afternoons coaching Pas de Deux and spent late nights cleaning the dance studio. He came up with lesson plan ideas to help dancers prep for recital and led classes independently with empathetic kindness and encouragement. He handled critiques in classes he attended with a smile and made improvements immediately. Jader traveled to dance competitions and cheered on our team, as well as volunteered at local events such as Little Lambs Preschool Dance Day. He studied lessons on CLI Studios to improve his study of Jazz Technique, and co-developed and tested a home stretching program designed to make sure he saw progress in all styles of dance.
Just two weeks before this season’s recital, a classmate broke her foot. In the spirit of inclusion, and with her willingness to attend classes regardless of the ability to participate, an elaborate plan was born! Jader was fit for formal wear that matched the costumes for each of her classes and assisted in choreographing Pas de Deux lifts to ensure she would be able to participate in all of her classes’ performances. He learned timing cues and stylistic preferences from different choreographers, as well as brand new lifts to make sure she didn’t miss a beat. He asked for practice videos to study and attended private lessons with her to make sure she felt safe and confident.
During this weekend’s recital performance, Jader stepped into even more additional routines whenever dancers needed an extra hand or felt too nervous to perform. He arrived early and stayed late to make sure everything was in tiptop shape for his classmates, while providing comedic relief to young dancers and nailing choreography from the classes he took. He ran extra errands, entertained young boys, and never missed an opportunity to say thank you to those around him, just for being there.
During this, the hardest of years we’ve had for consistent attendance and morale, Jader never once used a negative tone or language at ASAO. He never spoke of dancers that didn’t complete their commitments, despite how often classmates may have expressed disappointment. He stands up vocally for all dancers, and demonstrates ideal behavior in every class he attends and assists. He sets an outstanding example for commitment, determination, inclusion, determination, and ethics. It is with great pleasure that Darryl and I award him Dancer of the Year for the 2021-2022 season!
Eliana has gone above and beyond in her time on staff at ASAO Dance. She volunteered at every event we hosted; arriving early, staying late, and completing any tasks with thorough excellence. Always a pleasure to be around, Eliana worked very hard this season to make sure all dancers felt included and loved - a most important pillar in the mission of ASAO Dance. We have been thoroughly blessed by her time and devotion to dance, and will greatly miss her as she heads abroad next year!
Allayna has danced with ASAO for 4 years, and each season reached new heights in her technique. Allayna very clearly practices consistently and handles classroom critiques with positive ease. It is with great honor that we acknowledge her perseverance this season, as she lept from Level 1 to Level 2 in Ballet mid-season! Pandemic or Snow Day closures, Allayna never missed a Zoom meeting and always arrived attentive and in dress code. Allayna is an amazing role model for success in dance!
Dance class could not be as great this season without the encouraging words of Isaac. This award was created specifically for him, as we wanted so strongly to shine a light on the amazing difference Isaac has made this season. Every class was brighter, more positive, and full of improvement - as he cheered on every classmates accomplishments! Isaac stepped in to assist dancers whenever needed - be it his sister at home on Zoom, or a classmate that was working on a skill. He has volunteered time to do Pas de Deux stunts to encourage more boys to join dance as well. We are so grateful for Isaac's positive impact on all of us at ASAO!
Dancer of the Year 2021
Dancer of the Year 2020
Dancer of the Year 2019
Staff of the Year 2021
Staff of the Year 2020
Perseverance Award 2021
Dance Parent of the Year 2021