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StepUp Academy takes the stage at DisneyLand Paris!

Taking StepUp Academy students to perform onstage at DisneyLand Paris had been a pipeline dream for a long time for Manager, Ms Vicky, but earlier this year that dream came true! 

22 StepUp dancer, 5 StepUp teachers and 12 very supportive family chaperones went on a 5 day adventure to Paris, France! Taking to the stage on the DisneyLand Paris theatre to an international audience, exploring the park and learning from industry professionals in exclusive workshops from Disney’s professional performers. Want to hear more about our adventure? Read on!

The Disney journey began in September 2016, after months of discussing with the Disney team and researching, the application had reached an important stage – the video audition! They were looking for the whole package – choreography, costumes, timing, technique and performance. Three of our dance teams had just competed in the Short & Sweet Bollywood Festival; all teams wowing the crowds and making it through to the gala finale, with our SUA Combo team taking away a trophy! Using the videos from this performance our team was successful in our audition and invited to perform at DisneyLand Paris!

Our team of 22 dancers were then carefully selected and the preparations began! Teachers dedicated hours to planning the choreography, costumes and props, our admin team coordinated with parents, booked flights, accommodation and restaurants and the students began intense rehearsals to prepare the 20 minute performance with just a short number of weeks to go!

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Our pending adventure saw our smiling faces featured in articles from Gulf News, The National, Connector, The Arabian Post, Dubai Week, MENAFN, Go Dubai and we were even interviewed live on air by Pearl FM!

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Day 1
With suitcases packed to the brim with hairspray, glitter and costumes – our excited team, students and families met at the Etihad Dubai terminal ready to start the journey to France!
On arrival in Paris we checked into our hotel in the park and met with the rest of our group for our first dinner at Disney. We then set off for an early night, much rest was needed for the big day ahead!

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Day 2
The performance preparations started bright and early with our team meeting at 6am and turning the hotel lobby into our personal dressing room! It was a full team effort with parents, teachers and senior students pitching in to help get all performers stage ready with full hair and make up.
After a quick, early breakfast we set off to the park to take to the stage! After a few initial dramas of forgotten park passes (and dance shoes!) it was straight onto the stage for our first and final rehearsal. Then costumes on, warms up and stretches completed, flags at the ready – lets go!

StepUp Academy takes the stage at DisneyLand Paris!

“All our hard work paid off. It was our moment to shine. It just felt great.” Rhiana – performer

“It was amazing. They did such a good job… all smiling and I was crying!” Ms Emily – teacher

Buzzing from the experience of our performance we went on to spend an afternoon enjoying the magic and rides of the park!

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Day 3
Today was the day for our very own Disney workshops! Held exclusively for performers at the park, our girls enjoyed a dance class with Disney professional performer, Kylie, followed by an amazing musical theatre workshop with Paris Disney’s vocal coach!
Following the workshop we enjoyed the park again, getting to go back to our favourite rides or visiting those we missed the day before.

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That evening student, Eliny, celebrated a very special birthday with all our team in the park at dinner. Following dinner, with students faces covered in sprinkles from games at the restaurant, we took over the grass area outside in the park entertaining all the guests with our dancing, singing and gymnastics tricks – everyone got involved, even the Dads impressed us with their skills!

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We were then treated to a very special firework and projection show at the castle, our visit coincided with the 25th Anniversary in the Park! A truly magical and memorable experience to witness.

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Day 4
The team was up bright and early for breakfast, meeting Goofy, Daisy Duck, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet over their morning orange juice and coffees. We then enjoyed a full day at the park and took the chance to watch one of the Disney professional shows ‘Cinemagique’!

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Day 5
Our last day at the park! We took advantage of our last chance to go on our favourite rides before our flight home! “My favourite was the ‘Rock N Roller coaster – it had 3 loops in it!”  Karissa, performer.

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“I was so proud watching our students up there on the Disney stage after weeks of hard work! From every rehearsal to the trip itself we made memories that will last a lifetime.’ Ms Fiona.

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How-To do Basic Make-Up for Stage – Under 5 years

Get your tiny stars ready for their stage debut!

We know make-up on younger students can be a challenge! We like to keep it simple, save the time struggling with eyeliner on little ones and just highlight their features so that they don’t get washed out under bright stage lights. Check out our easy to follow tutorial video below!

How-To do Basic Stage Make-Up - Under 5 years

Step 1- Mascara

Ask the child to look down as you apply mascara to the upper lashes only. Resting part of your hand on their cheek as you apply will help stop them from startling and smudging the mascara.

Step 2 – Blusher

Have the child do ‘fish lips’ to suck in the cheeks so that you can see where their cheekbones naturally stand out, apply just enough blusher to give the face a light flush of colour. Blusher or bronzer can then be lightly dusted over the nose and upper forehead to add a light colour to the face.

Step 3 – Lips

Ask them to relax and slightly part the lips, apply a bright shade of red or pink lipstick. Steer clear of darker shades of red which can make the lips appear purple or blue under the stage lights, and of course with the younger ones smudge-proof lipsticks are ideal!

Step 4 – SMILE

Your little one is all ready to go shine on stage!

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How To do the Perfect Ballet Bun

The Ballet Bun is an important part of the polished presentation and discipline of Ballet – it keeps the hair securely off the face and completes the elegant lines of the body.

Follow our Step-by-Step guide to help you master the perfect Ballet Bun for class, exams or the stage.

How to do a perfect ballet bun

You will need;

  • Hair Spray, Hair Gel or Mouse
  • Hair Brush and Comb
  • Hair Tie – in the same shade as your hair colour
  • Bun Pins – at least 10 wide V shaped in the same colour as your hair
  • Hair Net – thin and same colour as your hair

Step 1 – Prepare the Hair

Brush through the hair to remove any knots, apply hair spray, gel or mouse to help the hair hold better. Ideally it is best if the hair is not squeaky clean to start with, try not to wash you hair at least 24 hours beforehand.

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Step 2 – Secure the Hair in a High PonyTail

Use a brush to pull the hair into a high ponytail. As this is the base of your ballet bun it is important that it is tied tight, use a comb to brush through and ensure there are no lumps or loose strands. The height of the pony tail can be determined by drawing an imaginary diagonal line upwards from your chin towards the back of your head, this positioning will give the most flattering line for ballet.

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Step 3 – Wrap the Hair

Loosely wrap the hair around in hair tie, no need to twist and coil the hair as this will make it stick out more instead of the flat bun look.

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Step 4 – Place Hair Net

Place the hair net over the bun. Tuck the ends of the net underneath the hair to ensure they are well hidden and then spread the hair out within the net to make a nice round, flat bun.

Step 5 – Secure the Bun

Use the wide V shaped bun pins to secure the bun in place. First press the ends down at the edge of the bun to capture the net and then press in underneath the hair to secure the hair pin out of sight and fixed under the hair tie. Use at least 10 hair pins around the bun to ensure it is tight and secure enough to hold through the dance.

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Press Down

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Then In

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Step 7 – Fix with Hair Spray

Fix the hair in place with hair spray and use a comb to push any stray hairs back in. This will ensure that the hair will stay in place throughout any class or performance work.

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6 ways to overcome pre-show nerves

You’re standing in the wings; costume sparkling, make-up perfected, hair sleeked, dance buddies giggling excitedly – you’re ready to go!
Then the nerves hit.. sweaty palms, wobbly knees, you turn to your friend -“how does this dance start again??!”
Don’t panic!
Stage nerves are perfectly normal, in fact top professional performers still admit to getting cases of the pre-stage jitters. It’s how you deal with them that counts. Here’s 6 of our top tips to help calm your stage nerves so that you can give your best performance.

1- Rehearse. Ok, so if it’s show day it may be too late, but the more time you can put into practicing your routine before the performance the more confident you will be. (See our top tips for remembering dance choreography here https://www.stepup.ae/top-tips-to-help-you-remember-dance-choreography/)

2- Breathe. Slowly. Deep, slow breaths in, and deep slow breaths out. This will help slow your heart rate which will likely be racing, calm your nerves and help you focus on the performance ahead.

3- Think positively about you putting on your best performance. You’ve been practicing hard, you are ready! Try not to worry about what could go wrong and instead imagine yourself performing the steps perfectly and enjoying the experience on stage.

4- Focus. The nerves you are feeling right now are a perfectly natural ‘fight or flight’ reflex the human body feels when it feels threatened – dating back to our caveman years when it was a natural survival instinct in the wild. Try to focus that extra, nervous, adrenaline-pumping energy into something positive – additional energy to put on your best performance!

5- Fake it. Not advice you will normally hear from your dance teacher, however in the case of performance confidence ‘fake it til you make it’ may be applied. In the grips of a case of pre-stage jitters a beaming stage smile may be far from your current expression, however, you’re a dancer – put on your best performance face and get ready to go out and wow the crowd. I guarantee once you are out on the stage, focusing that energy on giving your best performance for your audience that expression will become a real one.

6. Keep going. What if you forget a step? Always keep going. Try not to panic, keep breathing and keep moving until you can catch up with where the other dancers are. The audience is unlikely to notice your missed step if you keep smiling and keep going!

Break a leg everyone! 

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Top tips to help you remember Dance Choreography

In order to really shine on stage you need to know your choreography inside out and back to front. You should know it so well that you can do it in your sleep! Only once you know the steps this well can you really focus on showing your best technique and performing to your maximum to truly WOW the audience.

We know students these days are very busy with study and other sporting or after school activities so finding the time to practice at home can be tough; in order to put your “best foot forward” on stage we have a few tips for putting in the extra practice to be ready to shine. Students and parents take note!

IN CLASS

  • Pay attention
    Make sure you are giving your teacher your full attention. Watch what they are doing carefully and listen to any notes given so that you can apply the corrections.
  • Still struggling with a certain sequence after a few attempts?
    Put your hand up and ask if the teacher would mind going through it again slowly for you.
  • Ask the teacher for the name of the song and artist so you can listen and practice at home.
  • Try to find a pattern in the choreography – is there a section that repeats at a certain point in the song? Listen to the music and try to get to know it as well as the steps as linking the two together will help you remember.
  • It can sometimes be helpful to remember the steps as sung to the tune of the song, something as simple as ‘left, right, behind-side-front, TURN’ will stick in your brain to help your muscle memory on its way.
  • At the end of class write down any notes that your teacher has given you that you might struggle to remember.
In-Class

If you think you will have trouble remembering without the teacher’s assistance then bring along a device which you can record on and ask your teacher if they would mind you recording the sequence before the class finishes.

TIP– if recording a sequence to practice try to record it from the back of the room facing the mirrors so the teacher is facing back to you, that way you will be able to follow along without getting confused with directions when practicing at home.
Please always ask your teacher’s permission before recording and never share on your social media without permission from other dancers that may feature in the video, or the teacher who may wish the choreography to be kept secret until the performance!

WITHIN 24 HOURS

If you have a new piece of choreography to remember try to mark through the choreography learned when you get home within 24 hours of your class. It doesn’t need to be full out and will only take a few minutes (unless you have the space and time to warm up of course!) but simply going through the steps once within 24 hours will help keep it fresher in your brain. Often students wait too long after class to go through the steps again and have forgotten it by the time they get around to practicing or by the next lesson!

OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS

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If you have the time to warm up properly and go through the choreography full out then make sure you focus on areas where you have been having difficulty or had specific feedback from your teacher.

  • Keep starting a step on the wrong foot?
    Run the 8 counts before it and into that step over and over until you can’t get it wrong.
  • Need to practice using your face to perform?
    Mark through the counts in front of a mirror and practice how you will use your face to perform the steps. Sure you may feel silly at first, but who is watching! It will help build your confidence to perform in class.

To use your practice time for maximum effect refer to any notes given by your teacher that you wrote down at the end of class; maybe she wanted you to use stronger arms, listen to the music more or jump higher? Make sure you focus on those when going through the routine ready to go back and improve further in your next class.

Don’t have the time or space to practice full out? IMAGINE THE CHOREOGRAPHY

If you don’t have the space to practice, the time to warm up sufficiently or are simply worn out after a long day, then imagining the choreography can be a really helpful tool. Closing your eyes as you imagine each step to the music can really help your musicality and memory. To make this even more effective, think over feedback received from your teacher or areas you get stuck on in the choreography and imagine yourself completing the steps correctly and with beautiful technique and presentation. Try doing this then you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed at night, it only takes a few minutes but can help you focus and retain the choreography visually which can then be translated into your next practice or class.

BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS

Arrive early, warm up and mark through the choreography with your classmates, this will help keep the choreography fresh in your brain ready for class!

If you follow these tips it will really help you get the most out of your lessons in the lead up to your performance, allowing your teacher to move forward with the choreography and help push your technique further to give the best and most confident performance you can.

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StepUp Academy are off to Disneyland Paris!

This week Ms Vicky and a team of 22 excited students, 4 StepUp teachers and a couple of our amazing, supportive parents will be on a plane to Paris!

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Following on from a successful audition late last year, our team are thrilled to be able to offer a once in a lifetime experience for our students to dance onstage at Disneyland Paris – the first dance team from the UAE to be given this opportunity. Our team have been hard at work creating the 20 minute showcase which highlights and celebrates the cultural diversity of the StepUp family and the UAE. The 22 students performing have cultural roots from over 14 different countries!

The dancers have been put through their paces in an intensive rehearsal schedule over 9 weeks to get ready for the performance which will be held on one of Disneyland Paris’ main stages – seating an audience of up to 1300! Our students will also get the chance to take part in two exclusive workshops in dance and musical theatre with Disney’s professional performers.

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Final preparations are underway with costume fittings, rehearsals and squeezing in time for a few newspaper and radio interviews too – our girls have been featured in Gulf News, Dubai Week, The National, Connector and heard on Pearl FM!

We can’t wait to see our beautiful girls shine on stage and all their hard work pay off – The countdown is officially on!

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8 reasons to get your child into dance TODAY!

With so many options for after-school enrichment activities for kids in Dubai, we’ve made the choice easy for you with the top 8 reasons to get your child into dance today!

1. FITNESS

Dance is an enjoyable way for kids to stay fit and active, building both strength and cardiovascular fitness in one class. With today’s generation spending much more time indoors and in front of various tech screens and the World Health Organisation showing childhood obesity rates in the UAE at 36% and rising; creating healthy and active habits has never been more important.

2. FRIENDS

Friends who dance together stay together!

It’s true! All our teachers can all vouch for it! Sticking together year after year in the studio, progressing through the levels together, dance examinations, performances, end of year shows; dance forms strong bonds that can last a lifetime!

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3. POSTURE

You can always spot a dancer in the crowd; standing up tall, with a long neck, shoulders down and tummies in. Dancers are known for their great posture. Dance develops core strength and the technique focuses on an enhanced awareness of the posture, shapes and movement of the body.

4. WORK ETHIC

Dancers work hard. They are encouraged in every class and at every moment to strive to be the very best they can be. It’s an art form where one never can be ‘perfect’ – even the top artists are always striving to improve. This work ethic is known to rub off onto other areas of their life – in school, in music, in sport and later in their careers.

5. MANNERS

Students are taught respect in the classroom; respect for their teacher, their classmates, the studio and the art form. Students are taught from a young age to say please and thank, address the teacher appropriately, not interrupt, patiently wait their turn and apologise if they are late. The discipline and rules put in place are not only there to help the student feel secure, know what to expect and help the class run smoothly, but also to form good habits for future learning and life.

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6. TEAM WORK

Performing in a group either for an exam, event or show means making a commitment to your team. Choreography and formations require students to be precise and work together to make the performance look good as a whole picture; not just an individual performance. Partnering work such as lifts also require students to develop trust in one another, to be there to catch them, to be at rehearsals and to make it to the performance or they will let their team mates down.

7. CONFIDENCE

It takes a lot of guts to get up on the stage and perform in front of a crowd. Dance helps build the confidence in classes through a gradual combination of repetition of the steps and work to be performed, and positive reinforcements and feedback from their teachers. Students are also taught to be supportive of one another; opportunities are given in class for students to perform to each other in smaller groups to help even the shyest of students to come out of their shell. Once they get a taste for the stage, the buzz of performing and receiving applause, we often find those that were once very scared can’t wait to get back up on the stage!

8. FUN!

Most importantly – DANCE IS GOOD FUN!

When you hear a good beat and can’t help but tap your feet, that’s the same feeling you get in dance class – only 100 times greater when you nail a great combination in class or master a new skill! The feeling of leaving a great dance class, glistening with sweat with your dance mates and knowing you tried your hardest – you just can’t beat that (unless it was on the stage!)

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The good news is it is never too late to start!

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StepUp Academy offers classes from 15months through to adults in wide range of styles in our flagship purpose built dance studios in MotorCity and in many locations throughout Dubai. Please get in contact with our reception team for more details on info@stepup.ae or phone 04 453 4360.

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Welcome to the StepUp Academy Blog!

Welcome to the new StepUp Academy Blog!

Here you will find the latest news, events and updates from StepUp Academy, helpful and informative articles about dance and the performing arts and coming soon our ‘how-to’ section!

If you like what you see here, make sure you join us on social media to be sure you are not missing any updates, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and now LinkedIn.

Happy reading!

The StepUp Academy Team.