Inspiring Excellence through Arts Education

All posts by Amy Kimball-Niepmann

Why choose SAA?

The school year is about to begin and you, as a parent, are faced with a million different options for after-school activities. Your child has shown some interest in the performing arts, and you know that an education in the arts helps to create a well-rounded person. Why choose SAA?

ballet jazz musical theater dance instructor
Terri Miller

My name is Terri Miller, and I am fortunate to be in a unique position here at this studio. I am both teacher and parent. I have been both teacher and parent at SAA for over ten years. I see things from both perspectives. I would like to share with you why I have chosen this place for both myself and my children, in the hopes that it might help you decide if this is the right place for your child too.


As part of the staff at SAA, I can assure that having qualified, experienced, and caring teachers is of utmost importance. All teachers have extensive performing experience and/or college degrees in their field of expertise. The staff also meets together several times during the year to discuss classes, share ideas, and provide the best curriculum possible for our students. Every year we have students accepted into prestigious summer programs for both dance and drama, and many of our students who have decided on career paths in the performing arts have been accepted into rigorous college programs, often with scholarships. My oldest son received a merit scholarship in theater and is currently pursuing a double major in film and acting at Belhaven University in Mississippi. Whether a beginner just trying things out, or an advanced student hoping to land a role on Broadway or in a dance company, your child will be getting an education that will equip them for success.


One of my favorite things to hear from students, and my own children, is that SAA “feels like my second home.” This is how we hope every student will feel. It is our goal to create an environment that is clean, safe, and welcoming to everyone who enters our door. The studios are designed to meet the needs of every artist from the tiniest Kindermusik ® tot to the high-schooler perfecting their craft, and every instructor must go through an extensive background check. Exploring creativity requires a certain level of personal vulnerability and openness. We strive to create an environment that allows students to feel comfortable with creativity; to know they can explore the performing arts in a positive atmosphere.


As an instructor, I am expected to be punctual, positive, and prepared to teach classes that are both educational and engaging. As a parent, I am expected to partner with the studio to give my child their best chance of success. Students are expected to follow class etiquette, such as wearing the class uniform, appropriate shoes, etc., respect teachers and fellow students, and participate fully in class. When these expectations are met by instructors, parents, and students, it greatly increases the chance of your child having a wonderful SAA…


If I could sum up the SAA experience in one word, it would be “excellence”. This is the goal of everything we do. Instructors who provide excellent instruction combined with an environment and expectations that promote the pursuit of excellence in dance, drama, and music provide for an excellent SAA experience.

No school is perfect. No studio can guarantee that they are the perfect fit for you or your child. However, it has been my experience as an instructor and a parent that SAA is a place where creativity is celebrated and encouraged in an atmosphere that is friendly and familial. I know my children are receiving an arts education that will foster an appreciation for the arts, and equip them to follow their artistic passions into a career if they so choose. So as you navigate the myriad of after-school choices available, we hope that the SAA experience will be an experience worth trying for your family.

Is my child ready for Nutcracker Auditions?

nutcracker ballet dance audition

We all have dreams of seeing our daughters dance on stage, but is it too early to put my three-year-old through an audition? What if it becomes a traumatic experience that will keep her from enjoying dance in the future?

These are excellent questions to be asking this week with Suwanee Ballet’s The Best of Nutcracker Auditions for ages three to seven years.  Many of these little ones have not had the opportunity to be on stage, let alone participate in an audition! This does not mean you need to avoid auditions.  Consider your child. If she loves playing pretend and dancing like a fairy princess around your house she will most likely do well dancing around the stage.

Consider the reputation of the organization.  Suwanee Performing Arts is known for its work with children.  They work with the creative imagination of the child. Look for this type of opportunity that embraces the child’s creativity and the experience will most likely be magical.

If your child shows extreme separation anxiety when you leave her then she may not be quite ready for an audition. However, if your tiny dancer can’t wait to get to dance class each week then most definitely she is ready for the experience. If you are still unsure you can ask her dance teacher.  She will have an assessment of readiness based upon your child’s behavior in class.

Don’t let the word “audition” scare you. Auditions for these groups are age-appropriate and we make the process fun! It is all so exciting to get to dance with the big girls, wearing a sparkling tutu under the lights.

Have your child arrive in dance attire and ballet shoes or clothing they can move in and bare feet (no socks).  Hair should be pulled back in a high bun or ponytail away from the face.

While it is customary to call ahead and secure your audition spot, walk-ins are also welcome. 

Best of Nutcracker Auditions are Friday, October 26, 4:30-5:30 at Suwanee Academy of the Arts, 341 Main Street, Suwanee, GA 30024.  Call 678-482-6333 if you have questions or would like to reserve an audition spot.

Hope to see you there.

Dance Class Etiquette

Basic Dance Etiquette

Dance class environments are varied depending on the type of dance and instructor teaching.  Many instructors adhere to a strict classical classroom protocol while others prefer a more relaxed atmosphere.  Teaching requires enormous concentration. Student awareness of appropriate classroom etiquette helps the instructor stay on his or her task; helping you to becoming the best dancer you can be.

Here are a few basic rules of dance class to help keep you on track:

  • Dress appropriately and come prepared. (hair completely back, cover ups for outside)
  • Don’t come late and if you do, enter very quietly. (You should be early, ready to dance with shoes on, hair up, mind set for doing your best today)
  • Don’t leave early. If it is a must, talk to the teacher before class. If you need to exit in an emergency (it better be good), exit as quickly and discreetly as possible.
  • Don’t chew gum or bring food and drinks (a closed water bottle is okay) into the studio.
  • Never wear dance shoes outside the studio or wear street shoes in the studio.  Check for loose screws …on your taps before you step foot on the dance floor.
  • Don’t “hang” or slouch on the barre or anywhere else, for that matter.
  • Beware of negative body language (like folded arms). Yawning is a no no. Never sit down unless you are asked to.
  • Put any personal belongings in the designated space in the studio (never the front or where the teacher demonstrates).
  • Don’t talk while the teacher is talking. Not even whispering to the person next to you.
  • Completely silence and stow your cell phone. Even vibration is often audible.
  • Listen first, then ask relevant questions.
  • Finish each exercise in the stance from which it began.
  • Respect the dance space. Pick up trash, your clothes, and don’t turn things on, off, up, or down in the space without permission.
  • Acknowledge a correction with a nod of the head or a thank you.
  • When asked if you understand, a simple yes or no (mam/sir) is appropriate.
  • Always finish the class by applauding, and thanking the teacher. (Reverence)

Seasoned Dancer Etiquette

Once  a dancer has taken classes for a year or two they are ready to layer on a more indepth etiquette in the classroom.  The basic etiquette previously mentioned all must remain and be practiced daily.  Here are a few more rules to help dance class go smoothly.

  • Maintain respect, correct posture, and a positive attitude throughout the entire class.
  • Attention should be directed towards the instructor at all times.
  • Respect the personal space of others.
  • Be ready to dance before the music begins.  
  • At the end of an exercise, move only after the last note of the music has finished ringing. (or when the instructor has given permission to relax)
  • Always turn toward the barre between exercises.
  • Learn and assimilate the exercises quickly in order to receive the most out of the class. This is an art in itself and must be practiced.
  • Pay attention to and assimilate corrections given to other individuals. If the correction is directed toward another person, apply it to your own learning. (this is one huge way for a dancer to progress quickly)
  • When another group is dancing, prepare yourself to begin dancing as they finish.
  • When executing a combination in the center of the room that advances forward; finish the exercise and move directly to the front, then to the side, before returning to the back of the room to repeat the exercise. This will enable other dancers to begin.
  • When you are finished with an exercise in the center, leave the floor as soon as possible. (Never stop dancing in the middle of a combination)
  • Consider bringing a towel to class if you think you might sweat a lot.
  • Hygiene is very important.  Showering, clean dance wear and deodorant are a  must.
  • In case of injury, attend all classes and take notes. (Do not lie down or disrupt class)
  • Do not correct other students. Make double sure you are doing the step correctly.  
  • Always thank the instructor and the accompanist at the end of each class.
Suwanee Academy of the Arts | 341 Main Street, Suwanee, Georgia 30024 | P 678.482.6333 | contact@suwaneeacademy.com