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Another year has come to a close, and we are so proud (and sad) to say farewell to our Seniors this year! They were fantastic dancers and "A" students, and we will be closely following their journey ahead! Hear a little more about Athena's SHUFFLES story and what's next!

"I have been teaching Athena at SHUFFLES since she was 3 years old. From the beginning, she was a very special student. Athena has always had talent, focus, instincts, and an incredible work ethic and drive. Athena was always the student who raised the class level as she inspired her peers as well as her teachers. I have so many memories of her solos from her playing the violin and tapping to her tiki solo high on a bench and of course her iconic elevator dance in Eloise, Wild West, Phantom of the opera to her incredible Circus Ringmaster. She has always been a passionate performer and hard to NOT watch her when she is on stage. Athena always told me she would graduate from SHUFFLES but I never thought that day would come so quick! I will miss her, but I am so excited to see how her career will develop. Her performance as Emily at Radio City this week is a good indication that Athena has big things ahead." - Gail, Director of SHUFFLES

SHUFFLES: How long have you been part of the SHUFFLES family?

ATHENA: I started dancing at SHUFFLES at 3 year old

S: What has your experience been like?

A: It has been one of the most impactful experiences of my life. It is part of who I am today. The experience I got at SHUFFLES undoubtedly helped me book my Broadway jobs. Gail has been a mentor.

S: What's your favorite SHUFFLES Memory?

A: Every time I was on stage is a favorite memory. There are too many special ones to choose only one.

S: What was your favorite SHUFFLES performance?

A: Le Grande Cirque was my favorite SHUFFLES show, Swan Fake was my favorite class dance, and Lion Tamer was my favorite recent solo. I also will always have the fondest memories of my solo in Oh The Places You Go; I was 6 years old and popped out from behind a Dr. Suess book playing my violin and kept popping out with new "surprise."

S: What do you think you've learned the most?

A: How to be a skilled tap dancer and entertainer.

S: What's one piece of advice you'd give to younger SHUFFLES students?

A: Practice!

S: What's next?

A: I'm currently working in the Radio City New York Spectacular until the day I have to leave for college where I’ll be attending The University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts. I have a two year contract with Nickelodeon so I will be flying into NYC monthly to record my role of Princess Annabella. Additionally, I will be releasing my second single, Mavericks, through Sony Red and going to London to do some cowrites with producers. I will continue to audition both in NY and LA so hopefully there will be some more things on my calendar soon. For updates follow me @athenaripka!

SHUFFLES Director Gail with students after seeing Athena in the NY Spectacular.


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