Today's teacher story series focuses on Kayla Fyfe, who teaches dance at the Grand Island Dance Center. Students range in age from two to adult. The staff teaches a variety of dance forms: toddler, pre-ballet, ballet, jazz, hip hop, acro, Broadway, modern, and contemporary. For more information about the Grand Island Dance Center, check out its website at this link: Grand Island Dance Center information.
What got you started as a dance teacher?
I had a passion for dance at a young age. I begged my mom to let me start dance classes when I was three. I didn’t start dance until I was six years old. I went to this little studio in the town of Ransomville. The studio closed the year after I joined and, since then, I’ve been with Rachel Novelli at Lewiston Dance. I credit Rachel for seeing my passion for dance and allowing me to pursue it to its fullest.
How long have you been teaching dance?
I became a demonstrator at age 11 at Lewiston dance under the direction of Rachel Novelli. That’s where you assist the main teacher in class and learn the proper techniques that are involved with teaching dance. I had my first classes on my own at age 17, when we opened up the Grand Island dance studio. I have been choreographing my own solos since age 11.
Where did you go to college and what did you study?
I went to Daemen College and got my bachelors in mathematics.
Did you have other plans for your career?
Of course! I thought I would go to college and stop teaching and get a job in my field. But dance really never left me. In my last semester of college, I became a Zumba instructor, and my passion for dance evolved into dance fitness. I loved connecting with the ladies and seeing how much it has changed their lives. I also started to manage the Grand Island studio, and got more involved in the business side of running a dance studio.
What do you enjoy most about teaching dance?
I enjoy watching the kids grow up and develop their skills over the years. I’ve become a staple in their lives as well as they in mine. I’m so grateful to be a part in their lives. Some of them refer to the studio as their second home, and I am glad that we can provide a safe and warm place for them to go to. I love my dance family.
What do you enjoy most about teaching at the Grand Island Dance Center?
The kids are truly amazing. From age two to eighteen, they never cease to amaze me. We have some really talented students here at Grand Island Dance. I think when you have such a passion for something such as dance, it gets passed to the students. Teaching dance is not a job to me, but my life. I think that the kids can sense the joy it brings me and they want to be a part of that.
Tell me about the dance that you choreographed for the Sing for Hope concert?
Carol Horrigan, the music teacher at Huth Road Elementary School, approached me at Zumba one day about doing a dance for the Sing for Hope concert in October 2015. She found a song, "Lemonade," by Alex Boye that she wanted the kids to sing, and I was more that willing to offer my dance skills for such a great cause.
It is very rewarding for me. I can see them develop at different stages and I know what they are capable of. I also like to push my students to reach their complete potential.
What do you enjoy most about dance recitals?
Recitals give the dancers an opportunity to show off what they have been working on all dance season (nine months). They get to finally wear their sparkly costumes and dance for their family and friends. We have a “Red Carpet” before the recital starts so the dancers can take pictures and be in the spotlight. We try to make this day all about them. This is their time to shine.
When you aren't teaching dance, what do you enjoy doing?
Taking naps! Trying to relax, trying is the key word. Teaching dance is one of those professions that you can’t really stop. When I listen to music, I think instantly can I use this? Will this be a good song to choreograph to? Even when watching television, I might see a dance move that I like or the background music might intrigue me. I’m constantly thinking about dance. I don’t just walk from room to room, I dance. It’s a part of me.
What types of dance do you like to do?
For myself, I love dancing hip hop. It’s not as structured, and I can express myself more. Also, I love the music.
How can parents support their kids as dancers?
I say let them dance and express themselves. Get involved and see what they are accomplishing in class. You don’t just learn how to dance in dance classes. You learn teamwork, responsibility, and, most importantly, self-confidence.