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Steppin’ Out Dance Company and The Next Step Dance Studio Interview with Darcey Sunken

Steppin’ Out Dance Company is Next Step Dance Studio’s competitive dance team and was created to develop a positive environment where serious dancers can grow as performers and technicians, as well as increase their self-esteem, self-discipline, and pride in their accomplishments. As members of Steppin’ Out, the dancers become more precise and enthusiastic, improve their dance technique, and learn how to be responsible team members. They value the process, not just the award at the end, and they encourage their dancers to appreciate all accomplishments, no matter how small. This process will help the dancers learn to respect others and themselves. It is also important to Steppin’ Out that their choreography and costumes are appropriate to each dancer’s age and technique level.

Darcey Sunken, is the Director and Head Coach of the Steppin’ Out Dance Company. Darcey grew up in a dance family and knew that she was meant to be a dance instructor by the time she was just thirteen years old. In 2010, Ms. Darcey followed her dreams and introduced The Next Step Dance Studio to Bloomington/Normal. Ms. Darcey was the owner of the Next Step until 2013, when she realized that her passion was annual studio showcases and the students learning new styles of dance technique rather than business administration. She is now proud to call herself the director of the Next Step Dance Studio and head coach of Steppin’ Out Dance Company. Polly Schill now owns The Next Step Dance Studio and is a Director and Lead Choreographer of the studio

Darcey has been dancing for twenty-five years and her favorite kind of dance is tap. She has also attended many dance conventions/competitions including CNADM, DanceMakers, Shock, JUMP, Dupree, Monster’s of Hip Hop, and more. She was also a part of her high school cheerleading and competitive dance squad.

Darcy describes The Next Step as more than just a “dance studio.” She says they are a family. Many dancers that attend Next Step have been with them for several years. The dancers keep returning every session because Next Step values their relationship and dedication.

In Darcey’s opinion The Next Step is set apart from other dance studios because At The Next Step, they focus on each dancer individually. Since every case is different, each student is evaluated and then placed in the proper level. Most studios place students just by age. Next Step likes to place the dancers in the proper level so they get the most out of their dance experience and can progress with the proper technique.

Everyone at The Next Step Dance Studio is dedicated to providing high-quality dance classes to enhance the overall development of the child. They provide a child-centered, safe environment to encourage all of their students to explore dance with skilled, nurturing instructors.

They believe that dance training encourages the development of a positive self-image as it increases awareness of the student’s physical being. Along with developing muscular awareness and improving coordination skills, dance classes give children the freedom to express themselves through movement.

Their faculty members strive to develop respect, responsibility, creativity, focus, and a drive to learn in all of their dancers. They want their students to feel loved, confident, inspired, motivated and accomplished.

At The Next Step, they offer classes in Ballet, Pointe, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Lyrical, Jazz, Tap, West Coast Swing, Swing, Ballroom,  Dancenastics, Cheer, Tumbling, and Boys Dance Classes such as Hip Hop. Additionally, Next Steps Adult Dance Program offers classes at the beginning level that are welcome to all, with or without experience. The program include a class that rotates weeks of ballet, tap, and jazz, a Homecoming Dance Clinic with or without your date, and a Swing/Ballroom class where couples and singles can learn the waltz, foxtrot or swing.  Ballroom for one low price for the whole family. If the kids would prefer hip hop or improv, Next Steps has a place for them, too. Private Lessons are also available. Next Steps offers an introductory class in Cheerleading for an individual or with other members of their squad and a Competitive Cheer class that will provide competition a couple of times during the season.

Darcey’s proudest moments occur when the students accomplish a leap/jump/turn or a trick that they have been working towards for quite some time. They come running into her office and tell her all about it! She loves to see the smiles on their dancer’s faces and the excitement in their voice!

The biggest mistake that Darcey sees dancers make is not executing technique properly. Executing the proper technique is a must. If a dancer continues to make the same mistake over and over, they are not able to advance to the next level. A dancer can change this habit by taking corrections from their instructor, applying them and then taking the correction a step further by practicing the correction at home.

Next Step has added a “pre-competitive dance program” at the studio and Darcey wants that program grow and take off just like their competitive dance team has grown. She would also like to push towards growing the studio. They presently have over 400 students. Darcey would like to see that get up to 500 or more students.

Darcey founded The Next Steps Dance Studio. Dance has been a part of Darcey’s  life for 26 years. This is what she knows and what she is best at. She wanted to open a studio where she could share her love of dance with others – a place where she could eat, sleep, and breathe dance!

The Next Step is based out of Bloomington, Illinois. They are one of many studios in their area. They were named “The Best Dance Studio” in Bloomington/Normal this year. They are always continuing to grow and add to their dance family!

If you would like more information about either The Next Step Dance Studio or the Steppin’ Out Dance Company, visit their website at ­­­­­­, email them at ­­­­­, or call them at ­309-83-3453.  You can also “Like” them on Facebook, check them out on Instagram and view them on YouTube.

Anyone who has danced at The Next Step Dance Studio, with the Steppin’ Out Dance Company, or with any of the instructors at Next Step, is invited to comment on our blog.

If a dancer continues to make the same mistake over and over, they are not able to advance to the next level.

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