Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why Carly Blaney from SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Really CAN Dance: Advice from a Dance Mom and Dance Dad

Carly Blaney from #SYTYCD        Photo courtesy Facebook

Jersey Girl Carly Blaney of Wyckoff sure can dance, and she's been sizzling up the stage on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance.

But just how did this girl go from from a tutu and toe shoes to one of America's hottest new dancers?  We talked to Carly's parents, Liz and Kevin, of course! Read on about how she did it, her perseverance and drive and how young dancers with a dream can make it happen for them too.

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Suzee: When did Carly express a desire to dance, and what did you do about it?

 Mom and Dad: Carly expressed an interest to dance prior to her second birthday  Her older sister Amanda (by 4 years) was taking dance classes and it seemed to pique Carly's curiosity. I think Carly liked the dress-up part of dance first. She would ALWAYS wear a tutu. Whether going out to the stores or picking her sister up from school she would be seen wearing it and she seemed to love the attention she received from wearing it. As soon as she was old enough, I believe age 2 1/2, we enrolled her in dance classes.

Suzee: When did you realize Carly "really CAN dance?" Did you notice it or was it brought to your attention by a teacher, and if so, who and where?

 Mom and Dad: Carly always loved going to dance class. She was aware that dancers should look and carry themselves in a certain way. Hair in a perfect bun, tights with a little skirt, little pink ballet shoes, proper posture. From looking back at old dance videos, while some of the other children in class were losing focus, Carly would remain focused and pick up the choreography pretty fast. As a parent you could see how happy she was performing at her first recital. That love of performing has never left her. 

After age 4, the dancers are allowed to dance a solo if the teacher feels they are ready. While performing her first solo, "I Feel Pretty", during Nationals in Orlando, she got a little confused near the end and forget the last few seconds of the dance and ran of the stage embarrassed and crying. Ugh. But that never happened again. Her second solo the following year "The Dressing Song", brought out the performer in her and she received awards and positive feedback from judges throughout the competition year. 

Photo Courtesy Facebook
Suzee: How often did she have lessons and how often did she practice? Are dance lessons expensive, or is there a range? Did Carly have private lessons?

Mom and Dad : When Carly began dance classes i believe they were once a week. Over time days were added for different styles Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary. By her senior year of High School she would have classes 6 days a week, 7 days when preparing for a competition, approximately 35 hours a week at the studio. That time does not include the countless hours she would stay after class to run her dances alone in a studio to work on perfecting them. Because of the expense of the dance lessons, Some of the dancers were allowed to give private lessons to the younger dancers helping them with their solos, to help offset their dance tuition.

Suzee: What advice would you give to a parent whose child really wants to become a superb dancer? Is there an age that is too late or too early? My niece just started at 13.

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Amanda and  Carly Blaney               From Faceobbok
Mom and Dad: As far as advice to other parents, I would take a cue from my son/daughter about what they want. You can not make a child go to dance class and expect them to excel if they really don't want to be there. It is so demanding physically and emotionally that the dancer has to feel a passion for being there, like there's something missing in their lives if they are not there.

I don't believe its ever too late to begin dancing. Care should be taken to make sure your dancers body is prepared for the movements you will be asking your body to do to avoid injuries.

Please tell your niece that I recently read that Misty Copeland, the first African American female soloist for the American Ballet Theater, did not start ballet until she was 13. 

Suzee: Do you consider yourself a "Dance Mom and a Dance Dad?". Have you run into any difficult dance moms, or is it just a myth?

As far as being a Dance Mom (Dad). We have always been supportive of both our daughters dancing and it was a large part of how we raised them. My wife was involved as a class mom, in charge of preparing costumes for competitions, collecting them for storage between competitions and mending them as needed. I was involved as a prop dad, which involved designing and building whatever props were needed for the group of dances they had for the competition year. The prop dads would then be in charge of transporting them to the dance sites, having them backstage ready to go, placing them onstage before the dance and then removing them form the stage upon completion of the dance.

Carly's parents  add, "It is such a joy and blessing for us to watch Carly compete on So You Think You Can Dance this season. She has wanted to be a part of the show since its inception. it is really through the the teaching of her talented teachers Danielle and Kelley Larkin at Studio L in Waldwick, and Carly's work ethic that she has been able to achieve her goal."

 Good luck from Jersey to Carly!
Visit Carly on  Twitter:

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