As part of this year's After-School Activity Guide, Noozhawk has done some of the investigative work for you, asking the representatives of local after-school programs about the activities they are offering this fall.

In the first in a series of Q&As, Noozhawk sits down with Alana Tillim, owner and managing director of Santa Barbara Dance Arts.

Santa Barbara Dance Arts

Question: Which ages are appropriate for your after-school program? 

Answer: We teach from 2 years to adult.

Q: When did Santa Barbara Dance Arts first start? Is it local to the area?

A: We have been in business for 18 years in Santa Barbara. Our studio is conveniently located next to Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High School and on a bus line.

Julian Weinstein, a member of Santa Barbara Dance Arts, which believes in building confidence through dance.
Julian Weinstein, a member of Santa Barbara Dance Arts, which believes in building confidence through dance. (Rod Tucknott Photography photo)

Q: What was the thought behind creating the program?

A: We believe in building confidence through dance. The 9,000-square-foot space has a homework lounge with WiFi, a café with snacks, observation windows, and is a safe and healthy place for children and families. SB Dance Arts' partnership with the nonprofit Arts Mentorship Program provides scholarships for low-income families and creates opportunities for young dancers to be leaders and mentors to their peers.

Q: What are your goals for kids who participate?

A: We want them to feel good about themselves, see growth and value in hard work, and joy through movement. Many performers take for granted the joy of receiving thunderous applause, but sharing your gifts on stage is a transformative experience. Many kids start as recreational dancers in our program and eventually join our award-winning Performance Companies and Competition Team.

We work with children and families to support them in achieving their goals and nurturing them through disappointments. Many dancers begin at age 2 and continue through graduation. Many even come back as faculty members after training and working professionally. This sense of community is important, and Dance Arts creates a family environment that makes the kids feel like they have a second home.

Q: Which sorts of activities can parents expect their children to participate in?

A: We offer classes in jazz, hip hop, ballet, Broadway, tap, acro/tricks, aerial, contemporary, lyrical, Disney dance, mini moves, combo classes and more! Our performance class’ work toward two different shows each year. We also have an amazing series of master classes with visiting artists from L.A. and via our partnership with UCSB Arts and Lectures.

Q: Is there a particular activity that students enjoy more than others?

A: I would say that all of our classes are growing and kids see shows like So You Think You Can Dance or become obsessed with Hamilton. They want to dance and perform. Theater kids love our jazz and Broadway classes. Kids of all ages flock to our hip hop classes, and our resident hip hop teacher, Brittany, is an alumni of our program and beloved by thousands of children in SB.

Our aerial classes defy gravity with instructors from the aerial studio who recently choreographed for Beyoncé and Cirque du Soleil. Our most beloved program is our Student Dance Companies. Many dancers will train for years to audition when they turn 9 years old. These dancers are the heart of our program. They train in jazz and ballet while learning dances to perform at their own concert, perform in the community, travel to dance conventions to train and compete, and act as philanthropists and leaders as they fundraise for youth scholarships. Our companies raised $8,000 last year. I could not be more proud!

Q: How is your program unique from other after-school activities in the area? 

A: Our program is unique in that it is not just about dance. Our center allows for parents to have their kids either walk after school or be dropped off, and they are safe until pickup time. We don’t charge extra for children to use our facilities in between classes. They are supervised, safe, fed and surrounded by love and creativity. Many dancers are getting community service to assist and mentor young dancers or they are on Independent Study PE for school.

As a part of our program, we tackle issues of bullying, social media and peer pressure, and help them with skills like public speaking. Dance provides a unique form for expression and creativity.

Q: Does the content change at all over the course of the school year?

A: The fall session works toward a more informal performance. The spring session works toward our big show at the Marjorie Luke Theater. These dancers from ages 3 to 18 get a full professional performance experience. A grandmother of girls in our program emailed me, "I have been through four decades of dance recitals and this was the most entertaining and professional show I have ever seen. From the quality to the messaging, you guys are a class act!"

For more information, visit the Santa Barbara Dance Arts website by clicking here. Check out the video interview with Alana Tillim on Noozhawk's YouTube channel by clicking here.

Santa Barbara Dance Arts’ performance classes work toward two shows each year.
Santa Barbara Dance Arts' performance classes work toward two shows each year. (Santa Barbara Dance Arts photo)

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