‘Dance Moms’ stars teaching Boca kids how to move like the pros

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For years, the fundamentals of dance class have stayed the same — a waist-level barre to rest a hand for support during exercises, a mirrored wall, and the beat of the music. But at Boca Raton’s Stars Dance Studio, students in silk slippers dance in a vivid playfulness of lights. They strike confident poses to a variety of songs, and dancers move like water transformed by music, flowing in great arcs with limbs in constant motion.

“We are known worldwide,” said Mayra Smalley, Stars Dance Co.’s business operations manager. “I’d like to see the Boca studio be just as successful as the Miami one with lots of kids and diversity.”

After owning a successful Miami dance studio, Boca Raton became the next spot when Victor Smalley from “So You Think You Can Dance?” fame and dance instructor Angel Armas, of “Dance Moms: Miami’,” opened Stars Dance Studio.

Since 2006, Victor Smalley and Armas have been running a dance studio in Miami. In 2012, their popularity rose with the eight-episode hit reality show on Lifetime called “Dance Moms: Miami.” But in 2019, they opened their second studio in Boca Raton.

Victor Smalley, left, and Angel Armas are owners of Stars Dance Studio in Boca Raton and Miami.

Victor Smalley, left, and Angel Armas are owners of Stars Dance Studio in Boca Raton and Miami. (Stars Dance Studio / Courtesy)

“We are now so excited to announce our amazing training and our love for dance at all levels around the world,” Victor Smalley said.

Stars Dance Studio welcomes all levels of dancers with students from ages 3 to 18 to learn technique, strength, dance conditioning, choreography and improv.

“I was raised in Venezuela,” said Mayra Smalley, Victor’s mother. “I moved here 40 years [ago] and seeing all ethnicities and types of music is important to us.”

She wants to see dance students flourish regardless of level or experience.

“Seeing talented students who want to dance and seeing those who don’t have as much talent wanting to learn all help to grow the studio and environment,” she said. “Diversity is our thing.”

Students also learn the music and dance techniques of jazz, lyrical, ballet, ballroom, tap, hip-hop and acro. Student classes also may have guest speakers and teachers.

A ballet teacher leads a class at Stars Dance Studio.

A ballet teacher leads a class at Stars Dance Studio. (Stars Dance Studio / Courtesy)

“We are thrilled by this expansion, which has been a proven success by the multiple top awards won during national and regional competitions and our heavy enrollment,” Mayra Smalley said.

Stars Dance Studio has had teachers, guest speakers and students featured on “World of Dance”, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance?”

“The Miami studio has been there for 15 years,” Mayra Smalley said. “We started small and because of the shows, the talent, the choreographers, people were drawn to go there and we hope we can continue to grow that.”

Victor Smalley, who made the top 12 as a competitor on the sixth season of FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance?”, is a successful dancer, choreographer and model. In 2004, his partner, Armas, was named “Top Jazz Choreographer” by the National Dance Alliance and top lyrical choreographer in 2005.

“Students would be learning different movements, different styles and different levels,” Victor Smalley said. “But most importantly, you’d get to a level that’s the best version of yourself.”

Under their direction, Stars Dance Studio has won many regional and national competitions and the dancers often win multiple titles at competitions throughout the United States.

Victor Smalley, left, choreographer and co-owner of Stars Dance Studio, leads a class.

Victor Smalley, left, choreographer and co-owner of Stars Dance Studio, leads a class. (Stars Dance Studio / Courtesy)

Their main objective is to educate them to become better dancers and professionals, as well, to be accepted into the best colleges or companies for which they audition.

“It’s about giving access,” Mayra Smalley said. “And we have access to students, teachers and kids from all over the world.”

Even though the Boca studio opened in 2019, they faced some setbacks with COVID-19. Social and professional activities were put on hold, forcing dancers to practice at home without a professional teacher, proper space and equipment. But they were determined to keep dance alive, serving as a useful vehicle for hope and positivity.

“We started our Boca studio a little before the pandemic,” Mayra Smalley said. “So it’s like we’re sort of starting it again and we have about 50 students registered so far and we also offered virtual classes.”

The virtual classes provided by Stars Dance Studio saw students from all across the country and internationally from Russia and South Africa.

Victor Smalley trains a dancer during class.

Victor Smalley trains a dancer during class. (Stars Dance Studio / Courtesy)

“Zoom gave everyone the opportunity to reach out,” she said.

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Armas said he loves seeing the success of students and faculty.

“We teach new styles, critique and help with whatever else they’d like to focus on too,” he said.

Whether it is in Miami or Boca, the Stars Dance Studio owners say they hope to bring out the best in their students.

“Come play like a beast and live like a beauty,” Victor Smalley said. “We’ve grown beyond the typical dance class because it’s about variety, and we’re here for anyone who wants to dance.”

Stars Dance Studio is at 51 Glades Road. To enroll in fall classes, call 786-230-4981. Visit starsdance.co/.

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