Local dance director receives Educator of the Year award

Studio Director and Educator of the Year award winner Jacqueline Hill poses with her dancers from the Elite Dance Studio Monday, August 13th. Eddy Martinez/The SIgnal.

Since its start 11 years ago, hundreds of girls and boys have leaped and turned across the wooden floors of the Elite Dance Studio in Valencia, practicing to compete and win multiple national competitions. And they have, thanks in part to the studio director.

Now it was the director and founder Jacqueline Hill’s turn to receive the applause. Late last month, she was recognized with the Jackie Sleight Educator of the Year award.

Sleight is the co-founder of L.A. Dance Magic, which specializes in offering the resources to transform participants from students to professional dancers. She and Dave Carter, L.A. Dance Magic’s other founder, personally gave Hill the award after Hill received a $1,000 check for the Elite production “Bella Belle” that same day.

Studios from coast to coast are considered for the award.

“They are also taking into consideration the quality of work that you do,” Hill said about some of the qualifications judges look for in a potential winner of the award.

“Are dancers given the correct challenges? Are they motivated and inspired? How do you get the message of discipline and focus out to the youth?” These were some of the questions Hill is often thinking about, which helped her stand out among other studios across the nation.

Simply put, Hill offers an education — the education of dance.

Emily Moses, dancer at Elite Dance Studio, demonstrates a ballet pose Monday, August 13, 2018. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.

Like in any school or job, she said, there’s a syllabus or language to follow to help you succeed.

“People in our industry have literally come up with a syllabus of dance,” Hill said. “It has proven through the years that these are solid ways to build your body muscles correctly, learn placement, learn core and to the general public, to appreciate what you’re doing as you move your body.”

While Elite dancers have gained a dance education, skills learned have been useful to many outside the studio. Among them are dancers Sarah Williams and Taylor Kakiki, who said discipline, time management and work ethic are the skills they have polished since being a part of the Valencia studio.

“This experience has been like a job to me,” she said. “You get all the same stuff that you would send your kid to get a job. You’re learning that here.”  

Emily Dreyfus, who started as a dancer, is now teaching the bulk of the youth classes, showing that the education of dance comes full circle, Hill said.

“I think a lot of time when I’m teaching I’ll say something to the dancers and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, that was not me talking, that’s something that Jacqueline came through me and I delivered unto them,’” said Dreyfus. “It’s fun to take the experiences I learned from (Hill) and translate to the dancers that I’m now teaching.”

Now with another award to add to the collection, Hill said the goal for Elite is to continue growing and motivating its dancers.

In November, the studio will present its winter performance, “The Magical Journey of Hope.”  For more information, visit the Elite Dance Studios Facebook page.

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