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In Step With DC
Miss Melinda’s Top 10 DC Memories
Written by Melinda Civitella on November 6, 2018

1. First time dancing in Disney – Dance Connection first performed in Disney in 2000.  We performed on a stage in Tomorrowland, right underneath the People Mover.  Everyone was super excited both the dancers as well as the teachers.  We performed a 30 minute show and as each dance finished and the dancers came back stage to change they kept telling us that the crowd kept growing. When it was time for the finale the teachers also came onstage and performed with the dancers, the amount of people who had gathered to watch us was unbelievable and the applause and compliments we received is something I will never forget.


2. Rockette Visit – For one of the anniversary years of the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular they decided to visit dance schools to give them a class as well as some of the history of the Rockettes.  Dance Connection was chosen and 2 Rockettes came to our studio.  They brought costumes from the shows both past and present, talked about their experiences and history of the Rockettes, and finally gave a class to some of our dancers where they taught them actual routines from the show.  At the end of the day they took pictures with the dancers and teachers it was an amazing experience.


2. Rockette Visit – For one of the anniversary years of the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular they decided to visit dance schools to give them a class as well as some of the history of the Rockettes.  Dance Connection was chosen and 2 Rockettes came to our studio.  They brought costumes from the shows both past and present, talked about their experiences and history of the Rockettes, and finally gave a class to some of our dancers where they taught them actual routines from the show.  At the end of the day they took pictures with the dancers and teachers it was an amazing experience.


3. Emily winning National Title – My daughter Emily has been dancing at Dance Connection since she was 2 years old, every time she performs on stage I am one proud mother but in 2014 she became a National Title holder Junior Miss Dancers Inc., I was so nervous and excited before they announced her name but I will never forget that moment.  The teachers at Dance Connection have shaped her into the dancer she is today, all of them have taught her and I am so thankful to be working with such a  wonderful group of creative people.  Since her first National Title, Emily has also one other National  Titles which include Teen Miss Triple Threat at True Talent and this year Dancer of the Year at Dancer’s Inc.


4. Blizzard during Staff Party – Miss Mary always throws the most generous and amazing staff parties, but one year she brought us to a hotel that had kitchens in them, she had planned a day full of fun and games.  We were split up into teams and given questionnaires to fill out about our favorite foods.   Without knowing who’s food we were preparing we had to shop and prepare them like Iron Chef America.  Well during the day as we were shopping it began to snow.  We continued on with our games and cooking while outside a blizzard began, luckily we were at a hotel so we continued having fun and wound up having to stay overnight.  The next morning we when we woke up we were snowed in and had to wait to be plowed out.  It was a fun and staff party that lasted for over 24 hours!


5.  Make a Wish Holiday Party – For the past ? years, we have been lucky enough to be asked to perform for the Suffolk County Chapter of Make a Wish Foundation’s Holiday Party.  We bring a medley of Christmas dances and entertain the children and their families who are suffering from illnesses.  After our performance we stay and dance with all of the children and help keep the party going.  It gives me great joy to be a part of this and to give back to the community.  I also love the way our dancers interact with the children and how they realize how lucky they are to be healthy.


6. Squirrel Sighting – In our old location on Sunrise Highway, we had some issues with the building.  In the space between the roof and our ceiling we once had a few squirrels who visited us.  We could hear them running, and above the desk we had a small hole, one day while Miss Mary and I were working, one of those critters stuck their head through that tiny hole.  I was sitting right below that hole and the look on Miss Mary’s face when she saw that squirrel is etched into my memory forever.


7.  Ticket Sale Day Birthday – Before we ordered Recital Tickets online we used to have a Ticket Sale Day at the studio.  People would wait in line for hours to pick their tickets for the show.  One year Ticket Sale Day was on my 30th birthday, and when I arrived at the studio that day to sell the tickets the whole staff was wearing T-shirts with my face on it that read Happy 30th Birthday, it definitely caught me off guard.  When we were done working Ticket Sale Day we went back to Miss Mary’s house for a BBQ and continued to celebrate my birthday.


8.  Costume Show Adventure – The costume show is always a fun and memorable day but one year we had traveled to the location and everyone was very hungry.   We asked the hotel clerk for places that we could go for lunch, she had recommended a restaurant and we asked if it was in walking distance she said it was, so we decided to walk to the restaurant.  What she failed to tell us was that it was across a major highway, we had to shimmy in between a fence and a guard rail, and when we finally reached our destination (which took awhile it really wasn’t a walkable distance)  it was closed!  We had to walk all the way back to the hotel and got sandwiches that were from a deli that was located adjacent to the hotel.  It was a very funny adventure.

9. Giving Tree Wrapping Incident – One year we were wrapping gifts for the families on our giving tree, when we were all done Miss Samm realized she couldn’t find her phone.  After Miss Mary, Miss Samm, Miss Emily, and I searched the whole studio and couldn’t find it she decided to give her phone a ring.  We heard the phone ringing and realized she had wrapped it in inside one of the gift boxes for the needy family.  We then had to listen to all of the boxes until we found the one with her phone and unwrap the gift to retrieve her phone.  We had a lot of laughs that night!


10. Taxi Eviction – One summer the teachers headed into the city for a weekend at the Dance Teacher Summit, we had a great weekend taking classes and learning new techniques to bring back to our students.  At the end of the weekend all of the teachers took taxis back to Penn Station and I was put in the front seat with the driver.  We had only driven a short time when the driver pulled over and told me I had to get out of the Taxi because I was too nervous.  I however didn’t make any noises but I guess at one point grabbed onto the handle when he got a little close to the car in front of us.  From the back seat another teacher offered to switch with me and so he allowed me to stay as long as I moved into the back.  The rest of the way none of us could look at each other or we would have busted out into a fit a laughter.  As soon as we arrived at Penn we gathered our stuff together quickly and as the driver pulled away we all went hysterical.

Melinda Civitella

Melinda is one of our original Dance Connection staff members and has been with us since we opened in 1989. Melinda has been studying Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Pointe for over 37 years, and has been teaching dance for over 25 years. She enjoys teaching all ages and levels. Melinda herself, danced and performed in many Regional and National Competitions and received many High Score Awards. She even performed on Showstoppers National Television Competition. Melinda now enjoys choreographing for both Regional and National Competitions for the DC Competition team and for our Recital Company. Choreographing for DisneyWorld performances, cruise performances, dance festivals, street fairs, and the recital company have been a highlight for her. Melinda continues to educate herself in the art of dance, and participates in various teacher workshops including “The Dance Teacher Summit” and “Broadway Steps Teacher Conference.” Melinda graduated with honors from St. Joseph’s College with a degree in Business Administration, and is an integral part of Dance Connection’s success as studio manager.