By Aimee Ferenz
On the first of October, Dance Moms Miami dancer Hannah Epstein, along with her mother Debi Epstein, and manager Blake Woodruff, came to Startstuck Dance Academy in Seaville, New Jersey. They held a “meet and greet” and master class within the studio for the general public, with a turnout of 25 dance students attending with parents in tow. The Billows crew was able to get an exclusive interview with the trio during their participation in the class. The dance class that Hannah led began with a stretch and warm up, then went on to a short combination. After the class’s choreography was performed for the parents, the meet and greet began. I was able to catch an interview with the talented trio after they had finished socializing with those in attendance.
Upon meeting her, I found Hannah (a home-schooled sixth grader) to be quite friendly and forthcoming to give an interview. When I asked her about her favorite genre of dance, she said she loved Contemporary, and when I asked her if she had a particular favorite dance, she indicated a dance called Twisted Circus. When I asked Hannah about how she picks music for her routines, I got an interesting response from Mr. Woodruff who said that any music Hannah uses in her routines is not available for purchase on iTunes or any other sites for fear that the music might be used by other people at competitions.
Shifting some attention to Mr. Woodruff, I decided to ask him about his career as a manager and what it is like. “It’s so much fun,” he said “It’s exciting to take someone so young and get them ready for a life-long career.” We talked for some time about the challenges of travelling all around the country, which Mr. Woodruff took as an opportunity to give a South Jersey plug, “I’m obsessed with Wawa. It’s terrible when you’re outside of the Northeast.”
Before leaving, I felt compelled (given the title of the show that made these folks famous) to visit briefly with Hannah’s mother and to ask her just how it is to be a “Dance Mom”. “It’s very real,” she mentioned “They actually make some of us look nice on the show, but I would never have chosen a different life for Hannah.” We discussed dance and the arts in general, and how important they are to the world, to which Debi noted, “All forms of art are important in life. Creative people do best.”
Debi’s last comment stuck with me for some time after I left Starstruck that night. It instilled a in me a new social theory, if you will; art is a necessity. Regardless of whether or not an individual person is good at a specific craft or talent, the existence of music, art, or even creative literature can promote a truly happy lifestyle…even when you’re on a reality show that makes you look a little crazy.