Competitive Dance at StudioOne

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Each year, competition dance is rapidly increasing in popularity for children ages 4 to 18. It’s the new craze, especially ever since the introduction of admired television shows, such as Dance Moms and So You Think You Can Dance. With the colorful and sparkly costumes, bright stage lights, and most importantly, the ability to win numerous awards, everyone seems to be placing their child in dance classes when they are younger and auditioning for the competition team at their studio once old enough. With the increase in participation in competitive dance, more and more dance studios are being opened across the world, specifically in Tucson. 

Studio One Arizona Dance Company, under the direction of Rachael Reyes, is a competitive dance studio that trains dancers from the ages of 4 all the way to 18. They offer classes in a variety of different genres, including ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, hip hop, improvisation, and gymnastics. The family-owned studio has been in business since 2005. Growing up as a competitive dancer in Missouri, I was immediately interested in learning more about how competition dance plays a role in dance training here in Tucson.

I first heard about StudioOne during my beginning months as a dance major at the UA School of Dance in Fall 2021. Many of my friends in the dance program teach classes at StudioOne and some even grew up training there. The studio has a great reputation throughout the dance industry as they are known to provide the highest level of education to dancers so that their students can flourish and reach their full potential. They’ve also won numerous awards at large competitions across the nation, such as multiple first overalls, Best Choreography, Studio Spirit Award, Best Nu Groups at Nuvo, and over $100,000 in scholarships and prizes.   

Photograph of Ashley Schrader posing in a tilted leg position in the main room of StudioOne.

What is it like to be a competitive student at StudioOne?

According to Ashley Schrader, a sophomore dance major at the University of Arizona and previous student/current faculty member at StudioOne, the students take dance technique classes (ballet, jazz, leaps & turns, pointe, contemporary, etc) Monday through Thursday from 6:00-9:00 pm. On the weekends, the competitive team rehearses and prepares for upcoming competitions. On both Saturday and Sunday, the team begins their day with a ballet class, on Saturdays, they rehearse small groups, and Sunday they rehearse large groups, in addition to solos, duets, and trios.

Because I am ineligible to enroll in a class at the studio myself, I was unfortunately not able to experience these day-to-day classes. However, I did visit the studio for a contemporary class run by some University of Arizona dancers. 

Two photographs of Karsen Galatas (female) and Jesse Lozano (male) dancing a combination from the UofA Dance class at StudioOne.

As my friends and I ambled in, we were immediately impressed by the cute and stylish lobby, with an accent black wall (one of StudioOne’s colors), that’s decorated with numerous awards from dance competitions all over the nation. It reminded me of the studio I trained at back home in Missouri and I felt a wave of nostalgia come over me. It was perfectly set up for parents to be able to wait for their kids, and/or students to relax on their break(s) with many chairs and tables. The front desk was located in the center of the lobby, with easy access to an administrator ready to sign students up for class, collect tuition and fees, answer any questions, and help as needed.

There were about 20 of us college students there for the class, and while talking with Scarlett Nash, a freshman dance major at the University of Arizona and current faculty member at StudioOne, she described to me that her class sizes can range from 5 to 20 dancers. The younger the students are, the larger the class sizes are. The total duration of the class was 2 hours long. We began with a short warmup and improv, before learning the contemporary combination that Karsen Galatas (Senior, UA School of Dance) and Jesse Lozano (Senior, UA School of Dance and current faculty member at StudioOne) choreographed to Billie Eilish’s song, Getting Older. Once we had finished learning the combination, we broke into smaller groups and danced the entirety of the combo for the rest of the class. I had an amazing time dancing with some of my best friends and it felt so relieving to be able to let go and dance without any pressure.

Group photograph of UofA Dancers in the main room of StudioOne after taking class.

Love & Support at StudioOne

As I briefly mentioned before, StudioOne has an amazing reputation. StudioOne’s competitive students are extremely passionate about dance and work hard to improve in every class and rehearsal, while still maintaining a fun and enjoyable attitude. This definitely shows when viewing videos of their performances on social media! Schrader also emphasized that she couldn’t imagine her childhood without being a part of the StudioOne family. She always felt supported by her teachers and claimed the studio to be a “second home” for her. She is still heavily involved in the studio’s success, through choreographing and teaching the next generation of StudioOne dancers. Nash added to this statement by describing that the studio upholds a supportive yet driven atmosphere. The younger students look up to the older dancers, and the older dancers are helpful mentors for the younger dancers. 

Following my experience visiting the studio as well as learning more about the studio through dancers from StudioOne, it’s made clear that no matter who you are and where you come from, StudioOne will welcome you with open arms. StudioOne holds qualifications and dedication to creating the best possible dancers, but also a sense of community and love for all of the dancers they train. 


Carissa C is a freshman at the University of Arizona, majoring in Dance and Pre-Business.