At first glance the Brookfield School of Performing Arts (BSPA) looks like almost any other dance studio, but dig deeper and something is refreshingly different about this school. Here there is no competition, no cut-throat attitudes and definitely no divas. Just supportive nurturing teachers who "train students to grow in the arts and grow as people," says Deanne Petriccione, the school's owner.
Petriccione says she strives to "encourage students to be dedicated and focused," for their own "personal growth to bring joy and give back to the community." The reason, she explains, that the school does not participate in competitions is because she has seen it do more harm than good for the young people she trains. From over-inflated egos, to insecure and self-conscious people, Petriccione has seen how competition can chip away at how young performers view themselves. Petriccione feels that competition builds a "diva mentality" and fosters a more self-centered attitude focusing on one's talents, rather than using your "gifting and talents for something bigger than yourself."
Her dancing career began at the age of three, encouraged by her mother Sybil Daiello of Danbury, whose dream it was to dance. Petriccione was born with "Metatarsus Adductus," a foot deformity in which the bones in the middle of the foot bend in toward the body, her pediatrician recommended her mother enroll her in ballet to correct the problem. She has been dancing ever since.
Having a family who was into the arts encouraged her to keep doing what she loved. Petriccione's grandmother, an immigrant from Greece, played first-string violin with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and went to Julliard. She was a seamstress who sewed coats for Elizabeth Taylor and Liberace. Petriccione says her grandmother "was an amazing influence, she watched every show and sewed all my dance shoes." Petriccione says her mother "picked up right where she left off," and is a great support for her, even helping out with the studio.
Originally from the Bronx, Petriccione grew up in New York City where she auditioned and was accepted into the "Fame" school, now known as The Fiorello LaGuardia School of Music and Performing Arts. After high school she taught dance in Westchester before moving to Brookfield where she taught at The Academy of Dance Arts. She feels that ballet is the foundation for all other dances and thinks her students should have this "technical training" that is so crucial to excelling at all other dance forms.
Their regular season runs from September through June. Their recital is held at the end of the season in June at New Milford High School. They also put on a big Christmas show every year. This will be the fourth year BSPA has put on the Christmas production Tis The Season, a musical extravangza geared for ages three to adult. Linda Davies, Jen Turey and Petriccione direct, produce and choreograph this Holiday Variety Show. Turey is a former Radio City Rockette and owns Dance, Etc. in Newtown. Davies and Petriccione have coached the Brookfield High School Dance Team to victory three years in a row and have worked together with Turey to make this event special for the local community. All of the proceeds from Friday night's show go to benefit Ann's Place in Danbury. Last Year they donated to the New Milford Food Pantry and a children's organization in Danbury.
It is events like these that Petriccione feels so passionate about. "To be able to help the community" and train her students to do the same is something she lives for. She is a natural teacher and feels strongly that she should give back to the community in any way that she can.
Petriccione lives in Brookfield with her husband Jay and their three daughters Gina, Lauren and Christy. Gina teaches lyrical and hip hop classes and Lauren and Christy are both Assistant Teachers at the studio. Petriccione says she "is so thankful to be doing something I love with my daughters," because instead of the long hours she puts in at the school pulling her away from her family, she gets to be with them. She says the school it is a real "family affair" and that "they all have a lot of fun together."
The Brookfield School of Performing Arts teaches beginner to advanced classes in ballet, tap, lyrical, hip hop, salsa, Zumba, pointe, jazz, modern, flamenco dance and musical theater. They are now accepting registration for Summer Camps 2010. For more information visit their website.