Senior Spotlight: Jack Kassin

SHUFFLES Studio Member Jack Kassin is graduating from the Clinton School this year and then planning on heading to the University of Vermont! He is interested in pursuing studies in Anthropology and still plans on continuing to dance, and hopes to either choreograph or perform in pieces throughout college.

“I will definitely miss the community at SHUFFLES when I go to college,” says Jack. “I love SHUFFLES because I constantly feel supported by my peers and teachers. I also feel that I have made positive, strong friendships with all of them. Thus, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find a dance community as strong as SHUFFLES in college!”

Jack had two favorite SHUFFLES performances—the “Fish Slapping Song” in Taparella, because the number was so silly, and he was dressed up in a complete Pippi Longstocking costume (wig and all); and “Our Favorite Son” in Meet Me At the Plaza as the hard work that was put into the number was clearly shown in the final performance.

Jack mentions that learning how to “be strong and wrong” has been one of the best things he has learned at SHUFFLES!

“I am the type of person who overthinks things before they happen, so this advice helped me to stay confident even if I mess up,” he explains. “This has also helped me to cover my emotions when I mess up and just keep going, which is a great trait to have as a performer.”

Jack’s favorite SHUFFLES memory was going to Long Island on a cold weekend in February 2016 to see fellow SHUFFLES students perform “Swan Fake” at Bravo! Dance Competition.

“I was so excited to be supporting my friends and was even more excited when they won three awards at their first competition ever! I felt very proud of SHUFFLES and the hard work that the girls had put into the number.”

As a self-proclaimed extrovert, when Jack isn’t dancing, he can be found hanging out with his friends, baking or trying out a new bubble tea spot in the city.

We will miss you, Jack, and wish you success in your future endeavors!

Senior Spotlight: Caroline Cahill

SHUFFLES Company Member and Studio Member Caroline Cahill is graduating from the Professional Children’s School and then will pursue a double degree at Columbia University and Barnard College in their 5 year joint intra-university program at the School of International and Public Affairs, earning a combined bachelors degree and masters degree from Columbia University.

Caroline will miss her SHUFFLES family!

“Everyone at SHUFFLES believes in me, and that has really nurtured my confidence as I’ve grown with those around me.”

Caroline’s favorite SHUFFLES performances are either “Jet Set” in Meet Me At the Plaza or “Dancing Through Life” in No Place Like Home, as both were exhilarating for her to perform.

Caroline’s favorite SHUFFLES memory was when one of the Little Indians in PETER PANtomime gave her a drawing of herself as Tiger Lily.

“I’ll never forget the shy, yet proud look on her face as she handed me that paper!”

Caroline also mentions that she learned leadership skills by helping with the younger kids in PETER PANtomime when she was Tiger Lily and Nana.

At age 16, Caroline is the youngest to ever graduate from SHUFFLES.

“Since I’m on the younger side, I’m still open minded as to what I want to do with my life and I’m excited to explore more in college.”

When Caroline is not at SHUFFLES, she can be found baking, swimming or doing schoolwork.

She mentions that her inspirations are the wonderful SHUFFLES teachers who have taught her so much over the past nine years!

We will miss you, Caroline, and wish you all the very best!

Senior Spotlight: Patrice Cahill

SHUFFLES Studio Member and Company Member Patrice Cahill is graduating from the Professional Children’s School and will be headed to NYU Tisch School of the Arts as a Drama major in the fall. Her career goal is to be an actress on-stage and on-screen, and be on Broadway!

Patrice says that she will miss SHUFFLES so much when she goes to college!

“It has been my safe space for nine years now, and it saddens my heart to be leaving such a special place where I have grown so much. I will miss all of my SHUFFLES friends who always surround me with support and kindness. I will also miss all of my SHUFFLES teachers who have taken me to places in my training that I never thought I could reach. They have created an environment that nurtures, yet pushes, their students. I will also miss the one-of-a-kind atmosphere that SHUFFLES has created. Every time I walk in, I can just forget about everything that happened that day and have loads of fun.”

Patrice’s favorite SHUFFLES performance was when she first got to play Wendy in PETER PANtomime. She mentions that it had always been a dream role of her’s since she was little, and she had always looked up to and admired the older girls who played the role before her!

“It wasn’t until I got the role that I realized I am now that older girl, and I hope I have made that same influence on the younger students. I love the character so much; she feels the need to be the proper and mature older sister yet she has an innocence to her. I absolutely loved being able to portray that on stage two years in a row.”

Patrice’s favorite SHUFFLES memory is from when she was much younger. She used to live in New Jersey and every Monday and Saturday, her mom would drive her and her sister into the city.

“I perfectly remember that on one Monday, I could not wait to get to SHUFFLES. In Cyndi’s musical theatre class, we were learning a dance to Walking in a Winter Wonderland and I was having the time of my life. I didn’t want the class to end.”

Patrice says that she is inspired by the SHUFFLES faculty.

“I am so fortunate to have been taught by Broadway professionals and their work ethic inspires me every day. They always want me to do my best and are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

We wish you the best of luck Patrice and we will miss you!

Senior Spotlight: Lena-Marie Stoger

SHUFFLES Company Member Lena-Marie Stoger is graduating from the Professional Children’s School, and then is headed to Rice University to major in Violin Performance.

Lena-Marie has been at SHUFFLES since she was four years old and says that she will miss the weekly high-level tap classes when she goes to college, in addition to the SHUFFLES community, and her weekly Wednesday private lesson with Shelby. She will also miss living in New York City, and being able to see any show, concert or ballet at Lincoln Center!

One of Lena-Marie’s favorite SHUFFLES performances was doing “Opus” in Le Grand Cirque when she was 12.

“It was the first year that I had performed ‘Opus,’” says Lena-Marie. “I remember feeling so proud to perform that dance with many older dancers on the stage.”

At SHUFFLES, Lena-Marie notes that she learned how to be more confident.

“I have always been very shy growing up, so being in dance a few times a week at SHUFFLES since I was 4 practically forced me to open up, in the best way possible. My time at SHUFFLES has also taught me that hard work and persistence pays off.”

When not at SHUFFLES, Lena-Marie can be found playing violin, whether practicing at a quartet rehearsal or at a lesson. Her career goal is to be a founding member of a successful string quartet and to bring music and theater to less fortunate communities as she believes that every child should have the opportunity to be immersed in the arts from a young age!

Lena-Marie is inspired by her mom, Amelia DeMayo, who is the “most selfless and successful person I know.” She further explains that her mom has worked tirelessly to provide her with the training and tools that she has needed as both a dancer and a musician!

We will miss your tapping feet, Lena-Marie, and wish you much success!

Senior Spotlight: Emma McClune

SHUFFLES Studio Member Emma McClune is graduating from the Loyola School, and then heading to the University of Edinburgh for college where she will be studying English Language and Literature. She hopes to pursue a career path that fuels her creativity and love of story-telling, whether it be as a playwright, author, or screenwriter.

Emma explains that there are many things she will miss about SHUFFLES!

“The community, which is truly unparalleled compared to other dance studios I have been a part of; the teachers, who truly care about every student as an individual and who have consistently pushed me both creatively and personally; the hard work and passion that is put into each and every show, whether it is a showcase, a summer program, or the big May Show; and finally, my wonderful and talented friends who have provided me with memories that will stay with me throughout every direction of my life.”

She notes that she will also miss how alive New York City is, having moved here from Australia, and that while the city always changes, what never changes are the many wonderful sights, experiences, opportunities and people that exist within it.

Emma’s favorite SHUFFLES performance was Eloise at the Plaza, as she loved the plotline, the costumes, the dances, and getting to play Coco Chanel. Her favorite SHUFFLES memory is being in a Kaye Playhouse dressing room, surrounded by her friends, singing and dancing and laughing and being alive with the excitement of an upcoming show and the love and support that they share with each other.

Her favorite SHUFFLES memory was going out with SHUFFLES friends following a performance to get crepes together, and sitting back and celebrating what they had accomplished.

“SHUFFLES has taught me the power of consistently working hard and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, no matter how many ‘mistakes’ you make,” says Emma. “It has taught me that through embracing and learning from these ‘mistakes,’ you find yourself as an actress, singer, dancer, artist, storyteller, and creator; ultimately, you find yourself!”

When not at SHUFFLES, Emma can be found writing poetry, reading, watching movies, spending time with her family, or hanging out with her friends.

Emma is inspired by her mum because she has always taught her to find what inspires her and believe in her own power!

We will miss you in the studio, Emma, and wish you all the best!Her favorite SHUFFLES memory was going out with SHUFFLES friends following a performance to get crepes together, and sitting back and celebrating what they had accomplished.

Senior Spotlight: Claire Annino

SHUFFLES Studio AP Member Claire Annino is graduating from the Calhoun School this year and then is headed to Chapman University to pursue a degree in Creative Writing. Claire is hoping to apply her studies to fiction or television writing, and also wants to continue doing theater.

Claire mentions that she will miss her friends at SHUFFLES and the family that she has gained from her time here.

“Although I joined SHUFFLES later than most, I was immediately welcomed, made strong, lasting friendships, and found a support system that I will truly miss when I leave for college.”

She also notes that when she first came to SHUFFLES, she was nervous to sing, even though she had been acting for awhile!

 “When I first came to SHUFFLES, I was pretty insecure about performing…throughout my time at SHUFFLES, I have been surrounded by the most supportive, understanding, and encouraging group of people, and I think that one of the best lessons that I learned is to trust myself and trust that my fellow performers, teachers, and friends have my back,” she explains. “The confidence I have gained from SHUFFLES has made me a better performer and will help me as I continue into college.”

Her favorite SHUFFLES memory was going out with SHUFFLES friends following a performance to get crepes together, and sitting back and celebrating what they had accomplished.

“It definitely stuck with me because it was one of my first performances with SHUFFLES, and I knew that I was part of an incredible family!” she says.

When Claire is not at SHUFFLES, she attends a creative writing program where she is able to workshop her writing and she is also trained to be a counselor at their summer camp. She also has run varsity cross country for her entire high school career (and part of middle school, too), plays piano both classically and for her school’s jazz program, and has participated in her school’s theatre department for many years.

Claire’s inspiration is her family.

“They have always worked hard to pursue their passions, and have always encouraged me to do the same. My cousins, in particular, are huge sources of inspiration for me,” she notes. “Many of them are also interested in writing and theatre, and I’ve learned a lot from watching them pursue book deals, write for magazines, and even start their own theater companies.”

We will miss you, Claire, and wish you all the best!

Senior Spotlight: Julia Kingston

SHUFFLES Company Member Julia Kingston has been part of our SHUFFLES family since she was five. She is graduating from The Chapin School this year and then heading to Princeton University in the fall! Her future plans include going to law school after college, and working somewhere in the fields of politics, law or government, and staying involved in the arts in her free time.

When asked what Julia will miss about SHUFFLES after this year, she notes that she will “really miss the cozy and welcoming environment, the incredible joy I get from tap dancing, and, of course, all of my friends and teachers that I have to say goodbye to.” 

Julia has many favorite SHUFFLES moments. Her favorite show was Le Grand Cirque as she loved how theatrical it was, and her favorite SHUFFLES dance was in last year’s show No Place Like Home, the Villain’s Tango—a “Cell Block Tango” spoof with some “inventive and fierce” choreography! Julia’s favorite SHUFFLES memory was performing “Swan Fake” at the Bravo Dance Competition and winning first place! Julia notes that the competition was the first competition she and her classmates had been to, and the experience was a great opportunity and very rewarding.

When Julia is not dancing, she plays classical piano and is a member of the Young Artists Program at Kaufman Music Center. She also participates in her school’s theater productions and has been in Cabaret, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Twelfth Night. She also loves reading and playing the piano and singing both pop and Broadway songs.

Julia’s biggest inspiration is her mother, as she explains that she exemplifies every good quality that a person should have! Artistically, her inspiration is Reneé Rapp as watching her be Regina George in Mean Girls at just 20 was amazing for her to watch.

When asked about what lessons SHUFFLES taught her over the years, Julia explains, “SHUFFLES taught me to always pursue the things that I love and be unafraid to stand out in a crowd. SHUFFLES also taught me that you can only shine on stage once you have confidence in yourself.” 

We will miss you brightening up our studios, Julia, and wish you all the best!

Senior Spotlight: Anthony Savino

SHUFFLES Company Member and Studio Member Anthony Savino is headed to the Paper Mill Playhouse Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory this summer after graduating from Warwick Valley High School in Warwick, New York. He will then be heading to Montclair State University to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre!

Anthony’s first end of year SHUFFLES performance was No Place Like Home, where he was featured as the Tin Man. “It was like nothing I’ve ever done before,” explains Anthony. “It was crazy, and I loved every second, especially because of the people around me.”

He mentions that one of the biggest lessons he will take with him from SHUFFLES is to always roll with changes. “One of the great things about the shows at SHUFFLES is that they’re…brand new…things are constantly getting changed, and updated, and it’s such a valuable lesson to just take a note and go with the flow.”

Anthony’s favorite SHUFFLES memories happen in Wednesday night Studio Tap Class, particularly learning Buster Brown’s “Laura”. When he goes to college, he will both miss the intense tap training he receives at SHUFFLES, all of the teachers, and all of his friends.

When asked about who inspires him, Anthony notes, “All of my dance teachers, especially the ones that are doing or have done what I want to do. Also SHUFFLES’ own Jackie Cole. She has a work ethic like I’ve never seen before!”

It is no surprise that Anthony’s career goal is to work in musical theatre. We wish him the best of luck pursuing his dreams and will miss him lighting up the stage at SHUFFLES!

Senior Spotlight: Myah Segura

Myah graduated from LaGuardia High School this past spring and will be attending Drew University in the fall.  She’ll be traveling this summer to the Dominican Republic to visit family, and then will join fellow Shuffles alum Isabel Kingston in California to take dance classes.

Myah graduated from LaGuardia High School this past spring and will be attending Drew University in the fall.  She’ll be traveling this summer to the Dominican Republic to visit family, and then will join fellow Shuffles alum Isabel Kingston in California to take dance classes.

Myah is very proud to be the first Hispanic person to graduate from the Company at Shuffles. We asked her what she’ll miss about New York City and Shuffles when she heads to college.  “I will miss going to my favorite restaurants with my friends after a dance class, and the supportive students and faculty at Shuffles. I’ve made my best friends here and the teachers are more like friends as well.”

Myah’s love of the arts will continue as she will be studying performing arts administration and management at Drew.  And her love for performing will also continue.  “I will continue to take many different styles of dance while in college… tap, jazz, ballet, and modern. I love to sing and act, but dancing is definitely my favorite. At Shuffles we learned to sing and act as well as dance, and we even learned to play the violin while tap dancing.”

We asked Myah to tell us one of the best lessons she’s learned at Shuffles and a little bit about her favorite Shuffles performance.  “I’ve learned that even in the studios, you have to perform full out because how you practice in the studio will reflect on the stage. My favorite number was Swan Fake in Le Grande Cirque because we elevated our tap technique with ballet and I was so excited to combine my two favorite genres of dance!”

We always love to know what our seniors are watching and listening to.  Myah loves Disney Musicals and Marvel movies.  “I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them all and could sing along to every song. The detention dance scene from “Hairspray” is my favorite dance moment in a movie. I love how Tracy is willing to try new styles of dance and makes new friends by doing so.”

Myah has a clear vision of where she wants her university studies to take her.  “If I could have anyone’s career I would love to have Gail Crutchfield’s. I’d love to be cast in a dance heavy broadway show and then go off to be a director of a pre-professional dance studio.”  

We look forward to seeing Myah shine on as a performer, teacher and entrepreneur! 

Senior Spotlight: Isabel Kingston

Shuffles Senior Spotlight shines today on Isabel Kingston, who just this month graduated from The Chapin School.

This summer Isabel, 17, will “tap” into her Shuffles training to teach at a summer dance camp for children in New York City. She will also be continuing her own dance training when she travels to Los Angeles for several weeks of dance intensives.

A singer, actor, dancer (and violinist!), Isabel tells us she’ll miss the vibrant bustle of everything here in New York when she heads to the quieter campus of Princeton University this fall. “I’ll miss all the amazing performing arts opportunities that are right at my fingertips, though I hope to continue to pursue the arts in college by joining a dance company and a capella group at Princeton.” She is also considering getting a certificate – similar to a minor – in dance!

As she enters college in the fall, Isabel hopes to study journalism, public policy and foreign affairs. “I love to write and learn about issues related to global health”. It’s no surprise then that Isabel cites Michelle Obama as an inspiration, and artistically, the dancer/choreographer Brian Friedman.

We asked Isabel to share with us what she’ll miss most about Shuffles. “I’ll miss the incredible friends I’ve made at Shuffles— though I know we’ll stay in touch for many years to come. I’ll miss the incredibly positive yet challenging learning environment, and the amazing teachers that have pushed me to grow as a tap dancer and performer each year. I’ll always remember the feeling of adrenaline and camaraderie during the opening moments of 42nd Street, when the curtain first comes up during the time-step section. It filled me with so much joy to be doing such a lively and joyful dance surrounded by some of my best friends.” She tells us one of her favorite roles at Shuffles was being a sparkly rat and dancing in the big group number “Dance dance dance” choreographed by tap legend Harold Cromer and taught to her by Shelby Kaufman!

We never let our seniors take off without sharing their favorite dance scene on the stage or screen; for Isabel it’s “Cool” from the movie/musical “West Side Story”. We also love to learn something about them that we didn’t know. “I have perfect pitch…which means if you name a note I can sing it on demand, or if you sing a note I can tell you what note it is without checking!”

Isabel told us that Shuffles has taught her an important lesson that she will carry with her to college and beyond. “Confidence is so important both on and off the stage! It’s so much better to be “strong and wrong” than timid and lukewarm. “

We wish Izzy the best of love, luck and support for her new adventure at Princeton.