The Broadway Bigtime

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Body Language Dance & Theatre Arts Studio wins national title

Many little girls dream of being a ballerina on stage and dancing for a crowd of hundreds while wearing a pretty tutu. The dancers at Body Language Dance & Theatre Arts Studio in Massapequa have recently proven that it takes more than a pretty face to entertain.

Studio owner Wendy DeGaetano has won many regional championships and titles in the past, but winning the coveted “Broadway Cup” and the title of America’s Best Performing Arts School 2015 is her first national win.

“We attended the Access Broadway National Performing Arts competition in Hershey, PA from July 6-11,” said DeGaetano of her 150 students competing from the Body Language Dance Company, musical theatre students, mini/peewee students and recreation level classes. “The kids had a blast and we are all so proud of them. It was a total team effort.”

Body Language Dance & Theatre Arts Studio takes home the trophy for Best Performing Arts Studio in America
Body Language Dance & Theatre Arts Studio takes home the trophy for Best Performing Arts Studio in America

One of the studio’s choreographers, Danielle Marano, won for Best Choreography and Best Teen Group for one of her routines. DeGaetano was amazed at the level and multitude of talent at the competition, including more than 18 other studios from around the country.

“This cup was the goal we set last summer and it is an incredible feeling to have reached it,” she said. “I am so happy that we were able to prove to our students that if we all focus, support one another as a team and put in the hard work we can do anything together.”

DeGaetano said that no number of trophies or titles can compare to the feeling she had while watching the passion in her students that week.

“As a teacher, of course you want to develop their talent and it’s thrilling to watch them rise each week, but it is a whole other thing when you see their confidence in their own ability,” she said. “It was amazing to see the excitement and passion in their eyes. You can’t teach that.”

Dana Muscarnera, 11, of Massapequa, has been a dancer at the studio for the past six years. She takes classes in jazz, hip hop, lyrical, ballet and tap, and was very excited to take home the trophy.

All smiles and ready to perform.
All smiles and ready to perform.

“It was exciting to win because it was the first time my school ever won this competition,” said Muscarnera. “We won for overall dances and all of our production came in first place as well.”

Muscarnera has only been on the competition team for the past two years, but she already considers her fellow dancers family.

“The girls are all good friends and Ms. Wendy is so nice. She’s happy and proud of us for winning,” said Muscarnera.

Another talented student, Justina Lozito, 14, of Seaford, said that winning the competition was an amazing experience.

“It’s so exciting because winning the awards show us that all of our hard work paid off,” she said.

In order to prepare for such an intense competition, the students attend many weekly classes and rehearsals with hardly any time off. According to DeGaetano, on average, her company dancers are at the studio for more than 12 hours a week.

Some male dancers pose with proud studio owner Wendy DeGaetano.
Some male dancers pose with proud studio owner Wendy DeGaetano.

“They have mandatory classes in ballet, jazz and lyrical and most also take tap, hip hop, contemporary and acro lessons with us,” said DeGaetano of her competition team, who also rehearse for more than four hours each Saturday in addition to their regular rehearsals. “We hold an audition each year at the end of June and form our junior and senior groups at this time, then get to work right away beginning in July.”

DeGaetano always encourages her students to stay focused and commit, but have fun because they are going to be great.

“I tell them, ‘you put the work in, now just go on that stage and make everyone see how much you love doing what you do,’” she said. “We don’t put any emphasis on winning. If it happens great, but dancing, acting and singing is much more than a competition. You are sharing a part of yourself with everyone in that audience. Just do your best and enjoy it.”

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Jennifer Fauci is the senior editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

1 COMMENT

  1. Very nice as grandparents of two girls that attend body language & were in competetion we are very proud of you both Dana Muscarnera 11 years old & Victoria Sawyer 6 years old we love watching you girls mature into your dance routines good luck & keep up the good work we love you both very much we had never been to Hershey before either !!!!!

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