Shreveport Dance Academy
Studio’s new owner introduces changes
A community staple for local dancers and their families, undergoes some big changes.
The dance studio was purchased by Keeley Pratt, known to all as a longtime dance instructor at the studio. Since Pratt taught at the studio for 17 years before taking ownership, she jumped right into preparing for the new dance year. Pratt is also a parent of three dancers.
It is a priority to make it convenient to dance at Shreveport Dance Academy (SDA) and keep the studio student- and parentfriendly. “When I was putting into practice the changes I wanted to make, that’s what I kept in mind. What are the things we can do that are going to build up the dancers, that are going to give us stronger dancers, more confident dancers, and what can we do that makes it easier for parents?” said Pratt. “What makes more sense financially? What makes more sense with their time? What kind of things can we do to help our families out?” The entire system of classes has been overhauled – the levels and breakdown of how students are classified. Two programs have been implemented: the Progressions Program and the Elite Level Program.
According to Pratt, the Progressions Program is where the youngest students start. It’s geared toward dancers aged 2 years up to 11 years. Dancers can take ballet, tap or jazz classes.
The Elite Level Program requires membership in the Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet, or SDA’s competition team – Team SDA. “That’s geared to students who have decided they really like dance, and they want to get better and work harder,” said Pratt. “Both of those organizations, you audition for.”
(SDA is not affiliated with Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet. Membership is a designation to show that the student is committed to dancing on a higher and more involved level.)
Another significant change made is the way the dancers move into more advanced classes. In the past, dancers changed ballet classes each year. Everything is two years now in the new Progressions Program. The groupings are 2-3 years, 4-5 years, 6-7 years and 8-9 years.
“That is because we want you to be in the class for the year, and you get the new information the first year in there. The second year in the class, [older students] are role models for the students below them. They’re perfecting it,” said Pratt.
This change also spares parents’ pocketbooks because they don’t have to buy new uniforms every year. “I am a mom, too, and I have three dancers. I have all the same experiences that moms have in buying the uniforms and other stuff,” said Pratt.
The Elite Level Program has multiple levels within it. The first two levels – Elite Level I and Elite Level II – are also two-year pairings of 7-8 years and 9-10ish years. Elite Level III includes all middle school dancers – sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Students enter Elite Level IV in ninth grade.
An all-adult faculty is another change at SDA. “That is difficult to come by. Dance teachers are not aplenty, so finding people that are willing to work and teach for you that are adults – especially ones that have families of their own – has been tricky,” said Pratt. “We found some really good ones. I’m excited about that.”
Changes have also been made to the competition team – Team SDA. SDA used to have two separate ensembles – one for tap and one for jazz. These have been combined into one team, and dancers will perform both tap and jazz. The Team SDA competition team’s youngest group starts around age 7. The studio offers four competition teams for ages 7 years to 17.
Sophie Payne, SDA dance instructor and former student, is the Team SDA director. She says they will begin learning choreography in the fall and performing in February. “We have different choreographers coming in from all over – California, New York, the Midwest. They’ll choreograph some pieces, and I will choreograph some pieces,” said Payne.
Then the dancers will hit the road for competitions/conventions, where they may also take classes and compete for scholarships.
Close attention has been paid to the class schedule as well to ensure there are no overlapping classes. And in the Progressions Program, ballet and jazz or ballet and tap classes were scheduled back to back so families could get their classes knocked out in one day.
Check out the new and improved Shreveport Dance Academy on their updated website: www.shreveportdanceacademy.com. Information about class schedules, programs and levels, and class costs are available, along with photos of dancers in action.
“I’m just really excited about the opportunities that we’re going to provide for dancers in our area, and we’re just looking forward to a great year of dance,” said Pratt.