Sunday, November 11, 2012


Well,  we subjected ourselves to another dance competition this past weekend. Yes, it's true. And you know what that does to me... I get that annoying urge to voice my opinion. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on who you are) I have a forum for that! :)

Ok, it was early in the year for competition, but we usually do this with what we can salvage from last season's numbers. We are in the early stages of our year and aren't quite unified and defined yet but I think it's good to get a look at the current cast of characters, let them perform, and decide where we go from here.

I don't take my students to competition to "win". I go to showcase our work, give the kids a chance to enjoy performing, and perhaps get some valuable feedback. I usually come away with that, and I also get a chance to see what other dance studios in the area are doing. I definitely experience some positive things - getting to be with the families I serve and seeing my students dance. However, on occasion I  leave feeling like an outcast or the red headed stepchild.  That's fine because I get a renewed sense of who I am, what my studio philosophies are, and why I teach dance in the first place.

I don't come from a pageant background and did not grow up when studios were teaching the stuff I see at competitions today. Some of this stuff looks to me like a cross between acrobats, contortionist movement, pageantry, and over the top facial expressions mixed with a few turns and jumps. They are dressed in thousands of rhinestones and little else. (must cost a fortune for very small items!) It looks a little bit like Cirque du Soleil style stuff and it is quite amazing, but it doesn't appear to be a lot of dance.

Now, I also notice the huge patronage it attracts and many times for somewhat conservative (in everyday life) folks. When I see that, I think "Is that what I'm supposed to be doing?", "Is that what kids should be learning at dance?", "Am I doing the wrong thing?" "Should I be pushing for more from my students?" "Do I need to offer more gymnastics classes?". Then I stop myself and realize there are many people who want their kids to dance and don't want to be a part of that particular culture. That's what I'm here for!

My students come out and they look like students. They look like children doing dance. They do not look like professionals or the Peking Acrobats. (I did a show with them once - amazing!) They have days where my company students don't dance, they may be on the cheerleading squad, or softball team, and they have time to do their homework and play with their friends! They still have dance class to enhance their life and if they want it... they can still become amazing dancers and go on to become professionals. Like DSD alumni Austin Brue currently on scholarship at the Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles, or Kristyn Nurkka who is living in LA and pursuing her dreams of professional dancing. I have lots of former students who have gone on to work in the entertainment field or have become dance educators. I know my staff and I am capable of training a professional but we leave it up to the student to make that choice once they become teenagers or graduate from high school.

I am not writing this to knock any other studio or say what they are doing is not valid. I do have an opinion that it might not be totally healthy physically and emotionally, but they have their own philosophy and reasoning for doing what they do. I can't say I totally understand it, but I think in every sport, art, etc. there is always this side of things. The extreme... when my son was in soccer, there was the recreation league and the "Arsenal" league. The big guns.. practice every single day, travel games, and so on.

At Desert Star Dance, I hope to find the middle ground. Somewhere between recreation and insanity. I hope to be a place where kids can feel a sense of belonging, learn the art of dance, strive for excellence and still have fun. I want them to develop their skills steadily without burning them out. I see the other studios winning tons of awards at these competitions and my ego says "I need to change.. I need to win... I need to push harder" and then I come to my senses and remember why I'm doing this and what my ultimate goal is. It is to help kids become better people and teach them about the art and joy of dance. I go against the tidal wave that is turning dance in to sport and the TV culture of reality shows focused on competition. I'm not saying competition isn't important in the dance world - everyone feels compelled to compete, but sometime it squashes the creative aspect of dance. Even the hip hop dance world is about the "battle",  but for kids there is an important element - BALANCE.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ann Bode - DSD Director

Ann Bode—Desert Star Dance Director

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Ann studied with Dee Dee Arnone of the San Francisco Ballet. She later moved to Los Angeles and received a scholarship to Dupree Dance Academy. She began her professional career traveling with the dance troupe “The Dancin’ Machine”. She toured the US, Europe, and even Africa. After the tour, she moved to Las Vegas to dance in the award winning production show “Splash”.
Splash was the most popular show in Las Vegas in the 80’s and 90’s and played at the Riviera Hotel for over 20 years. Ann was featured in the show for seven years, after which she headlined at the Desert Inn in “Showstopper” as the lead singer/dancer. During this time she also choreographed and danced in several of her own night club acts, and performed in many corporate shows. She also appeared in several television shows, commercials, and movies, but her love was for live theater.

Upon retiring from the stage, Ann went on to become the dance and casting director as well as the costume coordinator for KR Entertainment. She managed and directed over 200 dancers in Reno, Las Vegas, and Japan. She also oversaw the budgeting and administration of millions of dollars worth of costumes and helped bring to life a myriad of incredible designs from the drawing room to the stage.

Ann started Desert Star Dance in December of 2003 running classes out of a local health club. While operating with no studio to call home, DSD began to grow. Eventually, Desert Star Dance found a home in Gilbert at it’s current location. It has grown from 40 students to 250. Ann is thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on her through Desert Star Dance. She knows that the success of Desert Star is due to the group of talented teachers and front desk staff that create the warm friendly atmosphere at the studio. Ann is also thankful for the wonderful students and families that study at the school. She would personally like to thank them for choosing Desert Star!

Studio Policies

It is required that all accounts have a credit or debit card on file. Please sign up for automatic payment.

This payment is debited on the 1st of each month. Final date for tuition payment is the 10th of each month. You can pay with cash, check, or credit card. Tuition not paid by the 10th will be run on the credit card on file. Tuition is non-refundable or transferable for any reason.

There is a $30 per student or $45 per family annual registration fee. This fee is non-refundable for any reason.

Withdrawals must be submitted in writing by email to our front desk. Please send an email to at least one week before the 1st of the month to avoid being charged. If withdrawal is not received in writing before tuition is due,  you will continue to be charged. Tuition is non refundable.

 All make up lessons must be made up during the month they were missed and in a class other than your regular one. Make up classes may not be applied towards tuition. No refunds will be made for classes missed for any reason. Please submit in writing if you are dropping a class by sending an email to

The school will communicate with you through email. Please check your email and our blogs regularly for updates. Email addresses must be on file and current with the front desk.

Unruly behavior, inappropriate language, or disrespectful behavior towards teachers will not be tolerated at Desert Star Dance or at any of our events. There is no food or drinks (except water in a closable unbreakable container) allowed in studios. There is no gum allowed anywhere at Desert Star Dance.

There is NO MOBILE PHONE or device use allowed by students in the dance rooms.
Students found using their phones during class time will have them confiscated until the end of class.

All classes may be 5 minutes less than our schedule states in order to allow for class changes and teacher bathroom breaks. The school reserves the right to provide a substitute teacher if the regularly scheduled teacher is unable to teach class.

Required dancewear and dance shoes must be worn in class. Please ask for the dress code for your particular class or consult our web site. Failure to wear required dancewear may result in students being asked to sit out of class. Students are not permitted to wear jeans, hard soled shoes, or jewelry.

The school is not responsible for providing before or after class care for students or siblings. Parents with students under the age of 5 should remain at the school during class unless prearranged.
Please pick up your child before the studio closes. The studio closes at 9:05 pm Monday through Thursday, 6:05pm on Fridays, and 1:35pm on Saturdays.

Parents, guardians, and students waive the right to any legal action for any injury sustained on studio property in any activity before, during or after class time. A waiver must be signed on our registration form prior to entering any class.

Desert Star Dance is not responsible for any lost or stolen articles. We do have a lost and found in our lunch room. Please check there for items left at the studio.

In order to participate in our June recital, a costume deposit and production fee are required. These payments are not refundable for any reason. Costume deposits are due in January. Costumes do not include shoes, tights, or accessories. Information is imparted throughout the year.

We ask that you sign a waiver where the school is hereby granted permission to take photographs of the students to use in any promotional materials that the school creates. We also ask that the school be able to copyright such photographs in its name.
If you have any questions or concerns please notify us. If you would like to speak with the director, you can email Ann Bode at Thank you and we look forward to providing a fun and safe environment for your child to learn the art of dance!