A Guide to Ballet for Kids and Parents

At MDA we value that ballet is the foundation of all technical dance forms. 

Ballet shows up in every style of dance. The more a student studies ballet, the more that student progresses, excels, and flourishes in every other style of dance. MDA believes that it is important as a dance student to have that time to really concentrate on ballet amid the other styles a student may take each week. It is a style of dance that is so important to the nature of dance in general, that we offer ballet for all students at MDA. Whether you are a recreational dancer or one of our elite competition dancers, all students at MDA train in ballet.

So, when students or parents ask why they should study ballet when they only want to take Jazz or don’t want to be a ballerina when they grow up, our answer is simple – “because it is good for you!”

Ballet teaches work ethic, perseverance, dedication, motivation, stamina, flexibility, and strength. Dancers work hard in ballet but the results are worth it.

Ballet helps dancers grow – it gives students what they need to spread their wings and fly in all dance classes. So how can you prepare for ballet class? Check out this great article from http://dance.about.com/


A Guide to Ballet for Kids and Parents

Many positive benefits are associated with learning the art of classical ballet. Besides learning the traditional techniques of ballet, ballet lessons can also foster a positive self-image in young girls, as well as young boys. Ballet teaches skill, grace, poise, self-discipline and self-confidence. This guide will help young girls and boys begin their ballet journey.

Getting Ready for Ballet Class

If you are very new to ballet, you are probably a little anxious about starting ballet classes. You may be wondering about a lot of things, like what you should wear and how to style your hair. You may wonder what ballet class will be like, and what kinds of things you will be learning. Keep in mind that most of the other students in your class will probably be new to ballet, too.

First Ballet Steps

Your first ballet classes will introduce you to the basic positions and techniques of ballet. Don't worry if you feel a little overwhelmed after your first few ballet classes. Ballet is extremely formal and strict, as the basic steps have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. You will be taught how to hold your body correctly, including how to hold your hands and how to point your toes. You will practice simple skills such as skipping and jumping to improve your coordination and flexibility. Each ballet class will begin at the barre with a series of exercises. Each exercise will focus on warming up a specific part of the body. After barre, a series of exercises will be performed in the center of the room, without the use of the barre.

The Importance of Stretching

Stretching is an important part of ballet. A ballet dancer needs to be flexible in order to position the body correctly and to avoid becoming injured. Stretching should become habit before each dance class. Even though your teacher will probably lead the class through a warm-up routine, it's a good idea to arrive at class early and stretch a little on your own.

Recital Fun

Most private dance studios have an annual recital. Recitals allow dance teachers to showcase the progress of their dancers, as well as allow the dancers to get a taste of what it's like to be in a real performance. Parents enjoy taking pictures and videos of their tiny dancers' first time on stage. After working hard all year, students feel a sense of accomplishment while performing on stage in beautiful costumes. Recitals also help to establish a sense of confidence in young dancers.



Exciting News from MDA

1. Ellie Carlson on our Teen Elite team has won a free trip to Saint Louis for a photo shoot with Masquerade Dance Competition!  All expenses paid.  Congratulations Ellie! We are proud of you.

2.  Congrats to our MDA dancers at Masquerades Unmasked Dancer of the Year Auditions. This portion of the convention included a one on one interview with the judges panel, a solo/improv dance and a full day of dance auditions in 5 styles. There were 3 age divisions, Senior 15 and up, Teen 12-14 and Junior 11 and under. From left to right Jessica L, 2nd place (senior) Ellie C, 3rd (teen) Harmony M, 1st (junior) Kylee L, 2nd (junior) Emily E, 3rd (senior).

MDA is incredibly proud of all our elite dancers this weekend, their hard work and commitment to always be furthering their dance education and experiences!

Nexstar Dance Competition MDA Results

Please see below how well MDA did on over all high score awards. All routines received a high gold or platinum award in order to be placed in the overall high-scoring awards.

Congratulations to all dancers and instructors!
We are so proud of you!

Advanced Junior Small Groups

First Place

Elite Junior Specialty Lyrical Team
Choreographer: Jennifer Carlson
*Choreography Award

Fourth Place

Elite Junior Ballet Team
Choreographer: Cathy Christensen
*Judges Choice Award

Fifth Place

Elite Junior Tap Team
Choreographer: Cathy Christensen

Sixth Place

Elite Junior Specialty Jazz Team
Choreographer: Tess Nelson

Advanced Teen Small Group

First Place

Teen Honors Specialty Team                                                    
Choreographer: Jennifer Carlson
*Performance Award

Second Place

Senior Contemporary Specialty Team
Choreographer: Nikki Norenberg

Third Place

Elite Junior Contemporary Specialty Team
Choreographer: Nikki Norenberg

Fourth Place

Preteen Jazz Team
Choreographer: Tess Nelson

Fifth Place

Preteen Lyrical Team
Choreographer: Nikki Norenberg

Advanced Senior Small Group

First Place

Senior Specialty Open Team
Choreographer: Jennifer Carlson

Second Place

Senior Specialty Tap
Choreographer: Nick Bowmen
Teacher: Cathy Christensen

Advanced Junior Large Groups

Second Place

Elite Junior Lyrical Team
Choreographer: Jennifer Carlson
*Regional Champions 11 and Under
*Highest Technique Score 11 and under

Fourth Place

Elite Junior Jazz Team
Choreographer: Jennifer Carlson

Advanced Teen Large Groups

First Place

Teen Lyrical Team
Choreographer: Jennifer Carlson

Second Place

Junior Hip Hop Team
Choreographer: Anthony Gabriel
Teacher: Tess Nelson
*Choreography Award

Third Place

Teen Ballet Team
Choreographer: Cathy Christensen
*Judges Choice Award

Fourth Place

Teen Jazz Team
Choreography: Jennifer Carlson

Advanced Senior Large Groups

First Place

Senior Large Group Lyrical
Choreographer: Jennifer Carlson
*Regional Champions 12 and over
*Choreographers Award

Second Place

Senior Large Group Jazz
Choreographer: Jennifer Carlson
*Performance Award

Third Place

Senior Large Group Ballet
Choreographer: Cathy Christensen

Fourth Place

Senior Hip Hop

Choreographer: Anthony Gabriel
Teacher: Nikki Norenberg

Advanced Senior Line

First Place

Senior/Teen Tap Line
Choreographer: Nick Bowmen
Teacher: Cathy Christensen
*Highest Technique 12 and over

Advanced Junior Duet/Trio

Seventh Place

Ellie Carlson, Lauren Witter, Harmony Massie
Choreographer: Jennifer Carlson


All Solos, Duets/Trios, Small Groups, Large Groups and Lines, in each age division are eligible for High Score Awards and will be presented with a special award for receiving the highest score. *NexStar reserves the right to combine divisions for overall high score.

Intermediate Junior Small Group

Fifth Place

Junior Tap Team
Choreographer: Joan Madren

Seventh Place

Junior Ballet Team
Choreographer: Morgan Weickert

Eighth Place

Petite Specialty Lyrical
Choreographer: Morgan Weickert

Intermediate Teen Small Group

Second Place

Preteen Tap Team
Choreographer: Joan Madren
*Performance Award

Third Place

Preteen Ballet Team
Morgan Weickert

Fourth Place

Teen Specialty Lyrical
Choreographer: Tess Nelson

Intermediate Junior Large Group

Third Place

Petite Large Group Tap
Choreographer: Joan Madren
*Performance Award
*Choreography Award

Fifth Place

Junior Jazz Group
Choreographer: Cathy Christensen

Sixth Place

Petite Large Group Ballet
Choreographer: Cathy Christensen
*Precision Award

Seventh Place

Petite Large Group Jazz
Choreographer: Cathy Christensen

Intermediate Petite Soloists

Sixth Place

Anna Carlson
Choreographer: Jennifer Carlson
*Judges Choice Award


All Solos, Duets/Trios, Small Groups, Large Groups and Lines, in each age division are eligible for High Score Awards and will be presented with a special award for receiving the highest score. *NexStar reserves the right to combine divisions for overall high score.

Novice Junior Soloists

Fourth Place

Carter Schook

Choreographer: Cathy Christensen
*Judges Choice Award


December 2014 Newsletter

Happy Holidays from MDA! 

The holiday season is upon us at MDA! Some important dates to remember:

  • Holiday Parties: December 15th-8th
  • We love celebrating the holidays with our students!

We provide cookies and juice for each class the last 20 minutes of class. Look for more information the week prior regarding optional gift exchanges and specific schedules for teams.

  • Winter Break: December 22nd-January 3rd
  • Enjoy your time off from school and dance! Happy holidays from the entire MDA teachers and staff.

Masquerade Workshop

In November, members of our elite teams attended an all-weekend workshop hosted by Masquerade Dance. These workshops are a great way for students and teachers to have a chance to study with various teachers in a variety of styles of dance, including lyrical, contemporary, jazz, jazz funk, musical show, hip hop and tap. These teachers come from all over the country and offer a wonderful opportunity for dancers. It is a fun weekend!

Two of our dancers were given special recognition for their dance; Rachel Enge won a scholarship from Masquerade Workshop in Jazz and Ellie Carlson took 3rd high score for Dancer of the Year for her age category in all styles of dance combined. Congratulations to all!

Workshop update: In-House Workshop— December 13th

MDA will be hosting a workshop with Crash Dance Production teachers on Saturday, December 13. Please mark your calendars and plan on attending. *Dancers attending: Petite, Elite Junior, Junior, Preteen, Teen and Senior Intensive (optional for Dazzlers, Stars and Diamonds) 

Costumes are Coming Soon! 

One of the greatest parts about being a dancer is, of course, the costumes! Whether this is your students’ first year dancing, or they are on a team with multiple dances, we all can’t wait for the costumes to arrive!

However, if you would like a sneak peak at your dancer’s costume, there is a “costume book” with pictures separated by each class. This book is kept at the front desk.

Once the costumes arrive, they will be tried on and fitted in class. Any adjustments, exchanges or embellishments with be made at that time. 

Daddy Daughter Starting in 2015! 

One of the most anticipated opportunities for our team members is to participate with their father’s in the Daddy Daughter dance, which is performed in the spring recital. This year is no exception. The dance is open to any performance, intensive or elite line team member. More information will be coming soon regarding starting dates.

Because schedules are so busy, the dance will be taught in a “workshop” format, rather than weekly classes. The cost is $200 per couple for 20 hours of instruction, Come join us for a very fun opportunity for dads and daughters!

Dance Buddy Program 

The dance buddy program at MDA is in full swing. Every year, team students are given the option of participating in the program. They simply fill out a short form, and are paired with a “buddy” from another team.

This is a great for our students to get to know dancers from other classes and make new friends. They can support their buddy however they choose, whether it be writing them a note or coming to cheer for them when they dance at competitions, to sharing a gift at the holidays.

MDA had been implementing the buddy program for many years and sometimes friendships have lasted way beyond the dance season!

Fundraising Opportunity

MDA offers fundraising opportunities through out the year to help with the cost of dance. Our first fundraiser will begin Friday, December 5, and will be the selling of cookie dough. This fundraiser is run by EZ Fund and will offer a 40% profit back to each dancer! For more information, please check at the front desk, or email Cathy at cathyc@mdadance.net. 

MDA WARM-UPS Available! 

MDA will be offering warm-ups. Orders are due January 8th. You can purchase by cash or check. 

Please find your order form under "news and events" on our website


MDA Halloween Party 2014

Check out the pictures from our Metropolitan Dance Alliance 2014 Halloween Party!

November 2014 Newsletter: What's New at Metropolitan Dance Alliance

MDA Dancers Go “PINK” 

The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness. Many of our families and staff have been impacted by this disease. It was great to see so many dancers and staff wear pink to support the fight! 

Parent Observation Week 

MDA provides viewing windows every day for our parents to watch class. For our teams, recreational and performance line classes we will have a special viewing for parents during their dancer’s class time Monday, November 10th—Saturday, November 15th. Observation class day is special because the kids get to show their parents what they have learned so far!


Legacy Dance Convention— November 22nd and 23rd

All Day Saturday and Sunday at Minneapolis Convention Center. *Dancers attending: Elite Junior and Elite Dancer Program students (optional for Petite, Junior, Preteen, Teen and Senior Intensive. Dazzlers, Stars and Diamonds)

In-House Workshop— December 13th

MDA will be hosting a workshop with Crash Dance Production teachers that day. Please mark your calendars and plan on attending. *Dancers attending: Petite, Elite Junior, Junior, Preteen, Teen and Senior Intensive (optional for Dazzlers, Stars and Diamonds) 

Halloween Fun at MDA!

During the week of October 27, MDA students got to celebrate Halloween by wearing their costumes and having a party! Here are just a few pictures of the fun

Important Dates at MDA

Thanksgiving Break: November 27th-29th

Holiday Parties:

Monday, December 15th- Saturday, December 20th. - We will celebrate by playing games. Each child will receive a treat at the end of class. Cookies and juice provided but feel free to bring some to share! There will also be an optional gift exchange, for your child to participate in.

Winter Break: December 22nd-January 3rd 

October Newsletter: What's Up at Metropolitan Dance Alliance

Welcome to the 2014-2015 Dance Season

Dance season is again officially in full swing. If you are new to the studio, welcome and we are exited you are here! If you are returning, whether it be in a recreational or competition team, we are so happy you are back. The teachers and staff are looking forward to a fun year full of learning and friendship.

Some things to note:

  • Registration will continue through Mid-October , it's not too late to sign up!!

  • MDA’ s main form of communication is email. The website and Facebook page is also a great place to get updated information. If you have not been receiving emails from MDA, please let the front desk attendant know.

  • Please have your child to bring a water bottle to class and keep it with their dance bag. Water is also for sale at MDA for 50 cents.

  • You are invited to stay and observe your child’s class through the windows if you would like. If you have to leave during your child’s class time, that is fine too.

  • Please visit MDA’s website for any up to date information.

  • Please also note you may pay online with a credit card at MDA’s website. Please speak with a desk attendant if you need assistance in doing so.

  • Please label your children’s shoes! This will help in locating misplaced items!

Upcoming Important Dates:

Halloween Parties: Week of October 27: Dress Up in your favorite costume!!!!

MEA Weekend: October 17—19
Halloween: October 31 

October 2014 Fun October Facts:

  • 10/11--It's My Party Day!
  • October ends on the same day of the
  • week as February, every year!
  • Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.
  • October is National Pizza Month! 

Jordyn Jones Comes to MDA!

Jordyn Jones, who is known for her performance on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Challenge, is coming to MDA for a Meet and Greet.

Jordyn recently performed at the 2014 Kid's Choice Awards. In April, Jordyn released her cover to "BANJI" along with a music video which has now reached over 1,000,000 views. Later she released another cover for the song "Fancy" with an accompanying music video. She also took part in Todrick Hall's video "Freaks Like Me" that starred most of the Dance Moms' girls.

WHEN: Saturday, October 4
Master Class: 5:30 to 6:30
Meet and Greet: 6:30 to 7:30

Click here more information on cost and to register. 


Good News! We have been awarded a free workshop from Masquerade National Dance Competition. We were the 3rd highest scoring studio at Masquerade this past summer! The studio had choice to pick a judge that would come out and teach our students this Fall. Albert Blaise Cattafi has been selected. He is a very talented teacher that we know our dancers will like. He will be teaching lyrical/contemporary and jazz. This is a wonderful opportunity for our studio and we are so proud of our dancers!

Details are as follows:

  • Charge for workshop: Free!
  • Date: Saturday, October 11th
  • Class Times:
  • Junior Elite/Pre-Teen Class 2:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Teen/Senior 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Albert Blaise Cattafi has been dancing since the age of 5 His training includes the renowned faculties of both The Joffrey Ballet School in New York and Kelly Allen's For Dancer's Only in New Jersey. Albert is a member of Rasta Thomas' Bad Boys of Dance, has appeared in an international Coke Zero Commer- cial, and was a featured in Jeff Amsden's A Few Good Men... Dancin'. As a soloist, his dancing has graced such famous stages as The New Amsterdam Theater in NYC, Sadlers Wells Theater in London, and The Lucent Danse Theatre in Holland. He has worked with Tony Award winning directors Des McAnuff (The Wiz) and Jerry Mitchell (Peepshow), and has assisted some of the country's top choreographers, such as Sergio Trujillo (Tony Award winner), Ray Leeper (SYTYCD), and Mia Michaels (Emmy Award winner). Albert was the assistant choreographer on Franco Dragone's cirque extravaganza INDIA, and has also assisted on the production of major Broadway shows including Spiderman, Tarzan (Holland), Billy Elliot, and Flash Dance. He has performed on the Video Music Awards for Florence and the Machine, the AMA Awards for Kelly Clarkson, and has performed as a guest on So You Think You Can Dance. Albert was an original member of Shaping Sound under the direction of choreographers Travis Wall, Teddy Forance, and Nick Lazzarini. Recently, Albert returned from Las Vegas where he performed in Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE. Albert believes you should always strive for perfection. You can never stop learning therefore never stop growing. Smile. 

Dance Quotes to Inspire

As we enter this upcoming year there are many words that describe or inspire dancers... Here a just a few.

To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak. —Hopi Indian Saying

Dance is an art, paint your dream and follow it. Steven Thompson

To dance is to be yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power on earth and it is yours for the taking. Agnes DeMille

We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. Japanese Proverb

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth.Rumi

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt

To touch, to move, to inspire. This is the true gift of dance. Aubrey Lynch

“Dance first, think later” Samuel Beckett

A child sings before it speaks, dances almost before it walks, music is with us from the beginning. --Pamela Brown 

3 Things That Every Parent Must Know Before Choosing a Quality Dance Studio for Their Child

What are the 3 things every parent must know before choosing a quality dance studio for their child?

Is your child interested in ballet, jazz, hip hop or tap? If they are, you're probably thinking about finding a dance studio so they can start to take lessons. However, there are many studios out there and some are better than others. Finding exactly the right studio for your dancer is important. Learn 3 things every parent must know before choosing a quality dance studio for their child. These free tips will help you make a more informed choice before paying for your child's 1st class.

1. A Well-Rounded Dance Education

A high quality dance studio should offer a full dance education that includes tap, jazz and most importantly ballet. It should not matter on your child’s age or experience, as all dancers should be provided a well-rounded program. A strong ballet program is key. Ballet is the foundation of all dance and is the base of a quality program. Many studios choose to offer only the most popular styles of dance and reserving a strong ballet program for their advanced dancers only. Even a dancer that comes in 1 day a week for an hour should be of the same high quality as the program they offer their advanced dancers. Steer clear of studios that do not offer ballet as a regular part of their program regardless of age or experience. I don’t know about you, but I think we could all agree that whether I am choosing a recreational fun class or an advanced training program for my child, I want the same high quality across the board. My investment is just as valuable regardless of the number of hours I spend in an activity.  

2. Qualified Adult Instructors

A high quality dance studio should have adult teachers with the credentials to teach dance along with years of experience in the dance community. Teachers should also bring with them years of experience working with children both in and outside the dance studio. Avoid dance studios that have teenagers teaching dance classes. Regardless of their experience in dance, having experience as a dance teacher is quite different than being a dancer. It takes a special skill set in dance combined with the experience in working with children to run a great and productive dance class. 

3. A Way to View Your Child at All Times

A high quality dance studio should have large observation windows where you can view your child any time you wish during their classes. As a parent you have the right to make sure you child is safe and having fun in class throughout the entire time you are there, not just during set parent nights. This also holds the teachers accountable. Be leery of any studio that does not have a way for you to easily watch class at all times. With that being said, having a large family and child friendly lobby is vital for any quality dance studio. A dance studio should make parents feel welcome to stay on site while their child is participating in class. This is a great time to get to know other parents that your child is taking class with. With a large open lobby, this will create an area for the kids to get ready before class and chat with their friends and be given the opportunity to hang out with their dance friends after class. Steer clear of a studio that does not have a front desk that is staffed. For the security of the kids, there should be a front desk that is staffed to help keep an eye on people that are coming into the studio. The front desk staff should also be well informed on the running of the studio so that teachers are not taking class time to answer questions regarding non-class issues, such as billing, class offerings, upcoming events or purchasing dance wear.

We invite you to navigate the MDA website and see all the classes that MDA has to offer! Give your child 2 free weeks of a quality dance education from Shakopee's top rated dance program! Register today and receive your 1st 2 weeks free! Offer expires August 31st. 

MDA Tap Teachers and Brothers Rick and Andy Ausland to perform at the Fringe Festival

Brothers Rick and Andy Ausland, have been entertaining audiences for 8 years with their show "Buckets and Tap Shoes" They have created an all new show, putting together their dream show. Come out and see MDA tap teachers, Rick and Andy Ausland, "Bucket and Tap Shoes" at the Fringe Festival in their all new show "Dreams"