Training the athlete. Nurturing the artist.
Engaging the whole child.
Year-round enrollment, space permitting.
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Enrollment and general inquiries:
"When my daughter was born, I knew I had to create the best dance program for her. I envisioned a youth program that merged the best of everything--- world-class dance training, holistic teaching methods, and a healthy, happy learning environment. Wherever her dreams may take her, I know that her dance training will empower her with a strong sense of self-worth and the discipline and focus to achieve anything."
- Suzana Stankovic ,
Owner/Director, Wild Heart Performing Arts Studio;
Professional Dancer-Choreographer; Master Dance Educator; Mom
World-class dance training; focus on the whole child; vibrant learning.
The youth program was created by Suzana Stankovic to offer world-class dance training with a holistic and joyful approach. Suzana is an Astoria, NY native, professional dancer, choreographer, master ballet teacher and mom. With her own daughter in mind, the youth program imparts a professional dance education that teaches dance as a rich and profound art form. Suzana's signature teaching method has been featured in Dance Teacher Magazine and other prominent media. Her work onstage has been widely featured as well. Suzana continues to perform and choreograph professionally.
The name Wild Heart came from the idea that children and artists are similar. They are both creative and imaginative and need a supportive environment in which to thrive.
Our values are rooted in the rich history and high standards of professional concert dance, yet our teaching methods are modern and holistic. Our youth dancers train to become world-class athletes, fearless artists and empowered human beings.
Class Placement and Training Regimen
Class placement is based on several factors such as age, dance experience, student readiness and individual goals. There is some overlap in class content between technique levels I and II and Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet to ensure proper foundational technique. Class size is limited to ensure real learning and growth in a personalized setting.
For ages 5-6, a regimen of at least two classes/week is recommended for steady progress and growth. For Ballet I & II (ages 7-10), at least two ballet classes/week are required. These are universal recommendations for a quality dance education. Such a regimen ensures correct foundational technique; the development of muscle memory; physical strength and flexibility, and skills-based progress.
*At times, exceptions can be made to this requirement, on a case-by-case basis.
"All the world's a stage."
Performing in a formal theater with costumes, sets and stage lighting is a significant milestone. Many schools stage elaborate recitals before the child is actually ready. It's not uncommon for children to join late in the dance year and find themselves onstage only a few weeks later before they've even learned the basics (!). Even in the best of scenarios, for a majority of the year classes focus on recital choreography rather than core training. Classes turn into an extended rehearsal period as children work to memorize their short recital dance at the exclusion of foundational training. The curriculum is cut short, training is stunted and dancers are expected to make the leap from the studio to the stage regardless of readiness or skill. This approach does not reflect our values.
How does the child prepare for the stage?
By starting small.
We believe that performances, and the valuable life lessons they teach, should be in proportion to the child's dance skills and mental/emotional readiness, gradually increasing as the child grows as a dancer.
Begin where you are.
We offer in-house performances for family and friends several times throughout the year, showcasing the children's growth and accomplishments in the familiar setting of the studio. Children perform class excerpts and short sequences of choreography for an audience of family and friends in their familiar setting. These frequent, small-scale showings are critical building blocks, which prepare the young dancer for the stage. Children develop the skills and confidence to seamlessly transition to the theater without sacrificing essential training and technique. Their work displays quality and self-assuredness. Most of all, they learn a vital life lesson:
great accomplishments are built upon many small and consistent steps.
We have received so much wonderful feedback from parents who love the simplicity, intimacy and quality of these in-house presentations.
Our faculty consists of accomplished, working dancers and choreographers who teach dance as a rich and profound art form. Our teachers have trained at renowned dance institutions and have active careers in dance, bringing real-world performance experience to the studio. They teach with integrity to world-class standards and create positive learning environments.
Classes are taught in a professional dance studio with top-notch, shock-absorbent floors, marley surface, dual-height ballet barres to suit children of different ages and heights, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and windows with lots of sunlight, modern sound system, climate control, ceiling fans and warm track lighting.
Syllabi created by Suzana Stankovic.
Our youth dance program currently serves children ages 1.5 - 10 years old. A program for older children is being developed. Private lessons and coaching are available for professional-track youth. We focus on the traditional core disciplines of concert dance training with a specialty in classical ballet. Class size is capped at 8-10 children, depending on the class, to ensure real learning and growth .
Tuition is based on an annual figure paid in ten monthly installments, September-June + an annual registration fee of $25.
One 45-min. class per week........$125/month
One 60-min. class per week........$135/month
One 75-min. class per week........$145/month
Additional classes are 10% off
Toddler Dance is a drop-in class at $30/class.
For policies, please click here and scroll down for youth policies.
Class Levels & Placement
Ages 18 mos. - 10 yrs.
Children are placed in a class that best suits them according to age, ability, goals and other factors. There is some overlap in class content between Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet, and Level I and II classes.
Toddler Dance: The Natural Dancer.
18 mos. - 3 years
Toddler Dance is a fun, guided, dance-play class, which introduces the child to dance and music. Caregivers are welcome to participate with their child. This class incorporates a variety of music and broad range of movement inspired by nature, animals, nursery rhymes and play. Children are guided toward exploration of dance, music and the space around them. Props are used to inspire movement and imagination.
Creative Movement / Pre-Ballet: The Noble Self.
Ages 3-6 are introduced to the world of classical ballet as a rich and singular art form. For ages 3-4 class is 45 minutes long, and for ages 5-6 it is 60 minutes long. Lessons consist of structured creative movement with delightful props and technical pre-ballet exercises, setting the foundation for training in classical ballet. Children learn the French vocabulary for classical ballet steps and positions, as well as classroom etiquette. Listening skills are honed as children explore tempo and practice keeping in time with music. Concentration and coordination are developed as children explore movement patterns and learn choreography. Ages 5-6 are introduced to the barre with a gentle series of exercises. Each lesson follows a syllabus of foundational training with opportunities for free-form dancing and self-expression, while meeting each child where they are.
Technique Level 1 (ages 7-10): Beginning technique. This class is for children with little to no technical training. Level I classes instill correct foundational technique, alignment, key concepts, aesthetics, music awareness and dance class etiquette. Discussion of dance vocabulary and dance history as they pertain to the steps being taught are woven throughout class resulting in a true dance education. .
Technique Level II (based on previous skill): Level II classes are for children who possess a solid foundation in the basics and are ready to build upon them. This class offers new challenges in technique, music awareness, choreography retention, artistic presentation and self-accountability.
Ages 11+ who have a serious interest in the art of dance are welcome to take our adult classes by invitation while we develop a dedicated teens program. Please note, we can only accept a small number of teens to our adult classes. We will expand our youth program in the near future to include more class options for adolescents.
Pointe: Pointe classes are open to serious dancers ages 12+ who have a strong foundation in ballet technique and the physical and mental readiness for the demands of pointe training.
All classes except for Toddler Dance have a dress code. Once children are enrolled in class, dress code instructions are provided.
Safety and Aesthetics:
Long hair must secured in a bun. Jewelry, nail polish and gum/candy are not permitted. Small earrings are acceptable.
Dance Style Descriptions
Classical Ballet: An elegant and noble dance form with roots in the Baroque period and the royal courts of Italy and France. Classical ballet is traditionally considered the cornerstone of professional concert-dance training and we teach primarily in the Vaganova (Russian) style along with elements of American ballet. The study of classical ballet is rigorous, building both physical and mental strength, turn-out in the hips (external rotation), whole-body alignment, flexibility, poise, grace and beauty of form and line.
Classic Jazz: Jazz is a combination of ballet, contemporary, social, African and theatrical dance consisting of rhythmic moves, fancy footwork, big leaps and quick turns. Class focuses on building classic jazz technique from the bottom up with a focus on proper alignment and placement for turns, leaps, and transitional elements in the classic, theatrical style of Broadway musicals.
Modern Dance: Modern dance emerged in the late 1900's in opposition to classical ballet. It is a free-form, broad style consisting of grounded, organic movement; contraction and release in the upper body; circular, linear and jagged shapes to percussive music. The class moves through technical elements based on the styles of the founding figures of modern dance: Jose Limon, Lester Horton and Martha Graham. While there is a strong focus on technique, there is also great emphasis on improvisation and personal expression. Modern dance is done barefoot.
Hip-Hop: Hip-hop dance refers to street dance styles primarily performed to hip-hop music or that have evolved as part of hip-hop culture. It includes a wide range of styles primarily breaking, locking, and popping which were created in the 1970s and made popular by dance crews in the United States. Since then several versions of hip-hop have emerged such as commercial hip-hop, popular in many mainstream music videos.
Pointe: Classical ballet is the art of the pointed foot and pointe is the height of classical ballet. It is considered the most physically demanding style of dance. In pointe class we learn how to dance ‘en pointe’ in pointe shoes. This class consists of repetitive exercises to build strength and flexibility of the feet, ankles and core while maintaining correct whole-body alignment. A strong foundation in ballet technique and teacher approval are required for this class. It is also essential that students be properly fitted for pointe shoes by a professional and that they maintain a consistent pointe training regimen.
We are not a competition studio.
"I do not strive to dance better than anyone else. I only strive to dance better than myself."
- Mikhail Baryshnikov