Victor and Angel – Dance Moms: Miami Cast
On July 24th, 2013 we had the pleasure of hosting some classes with guest instructors Victor and Angel from Dance Moms Miami!
In 2007, Victor Smalley and Angel Armas opened Stars Dance Studio in Miami. Victor’s mother Mayra Smalley was also there from the very beginning serving as the studio’s director and makeup artist to the dancers. From the start the team upholds their motto, “Turning Kids into Dancers and Dancers into Stars.” The Stars Studio continues to be an award-winning studio and they are proud to be known as a “home away from home” to their dancers, offering a wide range of classes in a state-of-the-art facility.
Victor was born and raised in Miami. At the age of 14, inspired by his mother, he began taking dance classes. He started as a Liturgical dancer, and his passion for this genre led him to train in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical and Contemporary dance. In 2005, he performed with the “Friends of Time Dance Company” in Dallas, and this first experience performing in front of an audience of thousands was the springboard for his dance career. Victor is well known for his first big break as a finalist on season six of the hit show “So You Think You Can Dance.” While on the series he had the honor of working with choreographers Mia Michaels, Sonya Tayeh, Tyce DiOrio, Travis Wall, and Stacey Tookey, among others. Victor was extremely inspired by Mia Michaels, whom he claims, “changed his life.”
He has become sought after in the dance world for his contemporary choreography and his numbers win consistently at both regional and national dance competitions. Victor’s love for his students leads him to devote the majority of his time to their growth as artists.
Angel was born in Sagua La Grande, Villa Clara, Cuba, and moved to the United States in 1995 when he was eleven. Because he had the chance to leave Cuba as a young child, he says he had the unique opportunity to gain incredible perspective and drive in all aspects of his life. Angel prides himself on “living the American dream.” At the age of twelve, he began taking lessons in Ballroom Dance, which exposed him to the larger world of dance competitions. Inspired by what he saw, he began studying Jazz, Lyrical, and Modern dance. As a young teacher, he was heavily influenced by Martha Graham and quickly became well-known for his innovative style and ability to combine elements from different genres of dance.
Angel’s choreography is in high demand by local Miami TV shows, South Florida Magnet Schools, concerts and artists. In 2004, he was named “Top Jazz Choreographer” by the National Dance Alliance and top “Lyrical Choreographer in 2005.” Under his direction, Stars Dance Studio has won many regional and national competitions and his dancers often win multiple titles at competitions throughout the U.S.
Victor and Angel both pride themselves on being a part of the “new” generation of dancers and they recently co-founded the nonprofit organization Stars for Artists, with the mission of raising funds for children of all ages to achieve their dance dreams in South Florida.
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Flexibility is an important part of being healthy. Dance requires a great amount of flexibility. Most dance classes begin with a warm-up including several stretching exercises. Dancers must strive to achieve full range of motion for all the major muscle groups. The greater the range of motion, the more muscles can flex and extend. Most forms of dance require dancers to perform moves that require bending and stretching, so dancers naturally become more flexible by simply dancing.
Strength is defined as the ability of a muscle to exert a force against resistance. Dancing builds strength by forcing the muscles to resist against a dancer’s own body weight. Many styles of dance, including jazz and ballet, require jumping and leaping high into the air. Jumping and leaping require tremendous strength of the major leg muscles. Ballroom dancing builds strength. Consider the muscle mass a male ballroom dancer develops by lifting his partner above his head!
Dance is physical exercise. Exercise increases endurance. Endurance is the ability of muscles to work hard for increasingly longer periods of time without fatigue. Regular dancing is great for improving endurance, especially vigorous dancing such as line and ballroom dancing. Elevating the heart rate can increase stamina. Just as in any form of exercise, regular dancing will build endurance.
4. Sense of Well-Being
Dancing is a social activity. Studies have shown that strong social ties and socializing with friends contribute to high self-esteem and a positive outlook. Dancing provides many opportunities to meet other people. Joining a class at Long Island Daneworks can increase self-confidence and build social skills. Because physical activity reduces stress and tension, regular dancing gives an overall sense of well-being.
For centuries, dance manuals and other writings have lauded the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise. More recently we’ve seen research on further health benefits of dancing, such as stress reduction and increased serotonin level, with its sense of well-being.
Most recently we’ve heard of another benefit: Frequent dancing apparently makes us smarter.
A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating one’s mind by dancing can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit. Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages.