Senior Spotlight: Camilla Phillips

This year at SHUFFLES is certainly different, but we are continually inspired by the joy, motivation, and professionalism of our students! As we prepare for Spring 2021, we are thrilled to share an interview with Studio AP member and Advanced Tap student Camilla Phillips about her experience with ShufflesOnline this semester!

Camilla is currently in Shenzhen, China, where she attends a British International School. She moved to Shenzhen last summer for her mom’s work. After some time back in New York, she returned to China at the end of March and has been taking her classes over Zoom. Join us in celebrating Camilla’s hard work and dedication! 

1. What inspired you to stay in your SHUFFLES classes even though you’re dancing with such a large time difference?

I love dancing at Shuffles (I have been taking classes since I was 5) and I have been missing it for the past year and really wanted to get back to classes. I was so glad to have the opportunity to do classes with Zoom. Even though I have to wake up really early 4 days a week, it’s totally worth it.

2. What has your experience been in your classes this semester so far?

The classes have been challenging, but very motivating. I always want to try to do my best. Sometimes I stop and think how crazy it is that I’m on the other side of the world dancing and singing with my Shuffles family. 

3. Do you feel like your approach to your classes has changed?

It definitely takes more effort to pay attention and learn through zoom. The experience of not being in the studio is very different and harder to follow along.

4. What are you most looking forward to this dance season at SHUFFLES?

I am looking forward to seeing my friends and teachers in person and learning new combinations in both tap and musical theater. I am super excited to be a part of Studio AP and work on the showcase. 

We are lucky to have you as a part of the SHUFFLES family, Camilla, and can’t wait to see you back in the studios!

All photos are all taken in Shenzhen. Special thank you to SHUFFLES parent Angela Butler! 

Senior Spotlight: Margot Krauss

SHUFFLES Senior Margot Krauss is graduating from LaGuardia High School and is headed to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to major in acting in the fall! She is excited to be staying in New York City and exploring the Washington Square Park area as her new home.

Margot’s goal is to pursue a career in the theater industry. While acting is her passion, she is also looking forward to learning about other jobs in the theater world. She loves comedy and she would like to write and perform comedy sketches or stand-up one day.

Margot notes that she will miss the creative and supportive environment SHUFFLES provided.

“I was able to find my passion in performing because of the amazing community that allowed me to take risks everyday. Every teacher supported me, challenged me, and most importantly believed in me. Whether it was learning a tricky tap combination with Kat or Shelby or singing my best in Studio with Cyndi, I always felt safe and ready to put my all into anything and try my best. I will also miss the amazing friends I made and the PETER PANtomime shows every year.”

Margot’s favorite SHUFFLES performance was one of her first shows at SHUFFLES called Make A Wish. She was chosen to play a younger version of one of the older girls, and remembers being so excited to be featured for the first time in a SHUFFLES show. Margot’s favorite SHUFFLES memory every year was doing the studio run before each May show, when she had an opportunity to see everything come together!

Margot explains that the best lesson she learned from SHUFFLES is to give everything she has to each run of a performance.

When not at SHUFFLES, Margot can usually be found at school rehearsing for a show or in an acting class or practicing piano. If she isn’t in any of those places, she is usually practicing her tap steps on her dance dot in her apartment!

Margot’s biggest inspiration is her mom.

“Her hard work and dedication to everything she does pushes me to keep working and never give up. Her dedication to the arts and endless support inspires me to pursue a career in what I am truly passionate about: theater and performing. Without her support and bobby pins on hand backstage for the May shows, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Congratulations, Margot! We are so proud of you!

Senior Spotlight: Maia Handwerker

Maia Handwerker is graduating from The Ethical Culture Fieldston School, and then is taking a gap year next year where she will spend half the year in Israel (working, learning and spending time with family) and the other half in Costa Rica (teaching and improving her Spanish). After her gap year, Maia is heading to the University of Pennsylvania! Maia’s goal is to be a correspondent at 60 Minutes.

She will miss walking down the streets of New York and seeing places that are strongly connected to incredible memories she has made throughout her life!

“The familiarity and the business are two things that I will miss so much!”

Maia also says she will miss the people and the teachers at SHUFFLES as it has been such a big part of her life for as long as she can remember. 

Maia notes that it is hard to choose her favorite SHUFFLES performance, but her favorite part of every performance is when your number is about to start and you have practiced the choreography thousands of times, and the only emotion running through your veins is excitement! Her favorite memories are rehearsals to get ready for the show.

“The SHUFFLES community is unmatched and as we get closer to the spring, the community further tightens and grows!”

SHUFFLES taught Maia that “the show must go on” under any circumstance.

“This is such an important part of life as well, whether it be presentations at school or running the TV station—I will always think of performing and Shuffles!

When Maia is not at SHUFFLES, she can be found working on her blog and an app, and spending time with her family and friends.

We will miss you, Maia! Congratulations!

Senior Spotlight: Kate Louissaint

SHUFFLES Company Member Kate Louissaint is graduating from LaGuardia Arts High School and then headed to the University of Michigan to pursue her BFA in Musical Theatre. Kate’s future goals include “performing, sharing, and indulging in the arts”! She hopes to be able to perform on Broadway or the West End in addition to creating a company or program that exists in different countries, including developing nations, that specializes in training multifaceted youth.

“I want to make space for people who haven’t been as fortunate as I was to dance at SHUFFLES for so long and build off of what I learned as I moved through schooling,” Kate explains.

Kate notes that she’ll miss several things about SHUFFLES.

“I will miss sitting around the costume book with my class and making signals about which costume we preferred. Nothing quite brought us together more than our opinions on specific show costumes! I will also miss when show time came around and as a group we would look out for each other’s props, share food, and help with make-up. A big loving family!”

Kate says that at SHUFFLES, she learned that building a strong and close relationship with peers is all about offering support when people need it.

“I cannot stress this enough to younger SHUFFLES kids—help each other out! A class is strongest when the dancers work together to retain material and move forward instead of constantly reviewing, so it is beneficial to everyone, despite their level, to look around and see who needs help or who can help you.”

Kate’s favorite SHUFFLES memory was when she was new to Company and during one hard class, Ben Vereen walked in and listened to them, and complemented their rhythm and articulation as they did a combination.

“It felt like we were being noticed as hard workers and special tap dancers, and brought us even closer as a group!”

When Kate is not at SHUFFLES, she can be found writing poetry, turning the poetry into songs and accompanying herself on the guitar or piano. In the rare moments where she is not training, she loves baking new desserts and spending time with her cat Lola!

Kate’s biggest inspirations are her mother and grandmother because of their fearlessness and drive, in addition to being gracious, loving, and giving! They also inspire her to be innovative and self-loving.

We will miss you and your tapping feet, Kate!

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!