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Mia Bella’s Dancers: From Non-Existent to National Champions in Seven Months

| July 29, 2010

mia bella dance studio palm coast city walk marketplace

Alex Seard has reason to soar soaring during his hip-hop class at Mia Bella dance studio. (© FlaglerLive)

Eight months ago there was nothing more than an empty storefront in Suite D201, an upstairs corner-store at City Walk. Seven months ago, Brie Valenti opened Mia Bella, a dance studio for children as young as 2 and as ambitious as Baryshnikov. Four days ago Valenti took her competition team to Gatlinburg, Tenn., for the national Celebration Talent Competition, where they competed with 800 dancers from 26 studios.

Yesterday (July 28), Valenti and her students returned national champions in the rising star category, and Valenti herself won best choreographer overall. “For a studio that’s been open for half a year, you can imagine the possibilities,” Valenti says, sitting down for a quick recap of the last few months and days. She took her breather at Venuto’s, the ground-floor pizzeria, while hip-hop instructor Alex Seard was conducting a class overhead.

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For Valenti, who’s just 28, dancing is what she’s done since she was 7. It’s in her blood and her soul, she says, her tongue twirling on the pun. She credits her grandmother, who danced in the 1930s until marriage and more crimping values put an end to that. Not at the Mia Bella Academy of Dance, where the words on the wall are about “changing the world one dancer at a time.”

Valenti, an artist-in-residence at Matanzas High School—she’s choreographed and managed dancers at the Backstreet Boys’ Howie Dourough club in Orlando, appeared as an extra in Adam Sandler’s “Water Boy” and has studied or danced with the Moscow Ballet and the Orlando Magic—wanted a one-stop dance studio in Palm Coast that offered as many styles and to as wide an age range as possible. Mia Bella is it: ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical or contemporary dance, along with—brace yourselves, all you purists out there—musical theater and pilates.

brie valenti palm coast dance mia bella studio

Brie Valenti.

The studio itself is “tailor-made to a little girl’s dream: it’s pink and zebra,” Valenti says. That’s no understatement. The place is a cross between the set of something girlish on Nick Jr. and a doll’s house (absolutely, positively not Ibsen’s), though the dance floor itself is almost all business—polished wooden floors, wall-length mirrors, balance bars and the unobstructed view of the latest storms brewing outside, or what’s turning into the county’s most varied artist colony: J.J. Graham’s Hollingsworth Gallery is a few pirouettes across the City Walk lot, the Art League’s gallery is moving in in a matter of days, Fred Astaire has one of its franchise dance studios in another building, and who knows what may be next. City Walk’s foreclosure status may soon be as much a memory as its name, which will soon switchto something like Palm Coast Marketplace.

Mia Bella itself is having its own growth spurt. The studio started with 20 students in January, 14 of them in the competition team. The studio now has 75 students, 30 in the competition team, despite opening in what’s considered the middle of the dance season in January. It’s enrolling for the fall and will soon hold try-outs for the competition team.

A few basics: the studio is open Monday through Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are six instructors, including Valenti. The studio’s students get to perform in two public recitals a year at Matanzas High School, including this coming Dec. 5 and 6 and again in June (that date yet to be set). The details are all at the website.

Trail classes are always free. Beyond that, it’s not cheap: the cost per class ranges from $25 to $40, depending on how many classes students register for and how many children from the same family are enrolled (the more, the cheaper), but there’s also a $135 to $155 rate for unlimited classes per month.

To Valenti though, “it’s very much not just a business,” she says. Her students have birthday parties and sleepovers there, off the clock. And there is that matter of trophies , which are beginning to crowd out the pink and the zebra.

A quick look at the winners:

  • Alyssa Waldman: High Gold, 1st overall high score petite lyrical solo, 2nd overall high score all petite solos
  • Jazmyne Valenti: High Gold, 5th overall junior high score solo
  • Alyssia Ziegler: High Gold
  • Nicole Ziegler: Gold
  • Alyssia and Nicole Ziegler, Senior Duo: High Gold
  • Ashley Schoendorf: High Gold, Celebration Scholarship
  • Allie Flagg: Gold, 1st overall high score teen solo
  • Russell Tanenbaum: High Gold, 1st overall senior lyrical solo, 1st overall senior solo
  • Allie Flagg, Ashley Schoendorf, Russell Tanenbaum, “With or Without You,” Senior Trio: High gold, 1st overall senior lyrical trio, 1st overall senior trio
    1st place National Showcase Finale Champions
  • Brie Valenti, Senior trio: 1st place Choreography Award


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21 Responses for “Mia Bella’s Dancers: From Non-Existent to National Champions in Seven Months”

  1. For Future Reference says:

    For future reference, Platinum is the highest award you can receive.


  2. PCalive says:

    It’s wonderful to hear that a team in Flagler County made it to Nationals, and won! Congratualtions to the kids, of course. And to the teachers because they have also worked hard.
    Although, I do agree with PCer. You don’t have to sell items or useless things, because people don’t usually want that. But car washes or bake sales, or dance shows would be great fund-rasiers. They teach the kids work. I’m not saying people shouldn’t get donations, but the children shouldn’t be outside begging for it.
    I also do have a problem with the fact that a lot of the kids think they are the best in Flagler. Yes, they are obviously very good dancers since they won such high awards. I know there are other dance schools in Flagler, and by the Mia Bella kids saying they are now the best in town, other children are being put down. It’s certainly not right, and the parents should be teaching sportmanship.
    With that, I do hope the team continues on and competes because it’s no doubt that they are very talented dancers.


  3. danceparent says:

    I felt the need to respond to clear up some “ethical” issues. I am the parent of a dancer at Mia Bella. Brie has actually taught “her” students more than a year, as she taught at another studio before opening her own. So actually, if you notice in the article, which is what the comments should be in reference to, the only time the students are referred to as “hers” is from what the author of the article wrote, not a direct quote from Ms. Brie. In the seven months she has been open, she selected the students, choreographed the routine and trained them in the routine. That alone is a credit to “her” and “her” students.
    Platinum is the highest award given out. At this particular event, again the one referenced in the article, there was only one given out in that age division. That particular group was in the dance showdown against Mia Bella, and did not even place in the top 3, but Mia Bella won 1st place. So, they did receive the highest honors, even though it was not a “platinum” award…..( but just to set the record straight, they do have several platinum awards to their credit).
    And last but not least, no where in this article does it mention that Mia Bella students are “the best”.
    The correct comments are that Ms. Brie is in fact a good teacher and choreographer, as shown by the award she received, and the students are good dancers, as shown by the award they received. This article was not written by Ms. Brie or anyone associated with Mia Bella, it was an interview, written in whole by the author. Mia Bella and/or Ms. Brie was not even aware of what was written until it was published. It was meant to celebrate the accomplishments of the dancers and teachers, give our community the attention it deserves to have National Champions, and to motivate other children to dance, no matter where they attend. We as parents appreciate your congratulations and want you to know that we do encourage sportsmanship in our children, we just wish that sometimes the adults had it too.


  4. supportourkids says:

    It is so very obvious that PCer and INPC have some personal vendetta against this studio that has nothing to do with fundraising or whether or not the dancers are “Mia Bella’s dancers” You have got to be kidding me with this nonsense. Why don’t you stop hiding behind ridiculous posts and deal with the people and issues you have directly. This was a great article about the accomplishments of a PHENOMENAL dance studio and dedicated group of dancers. GO MIA BELLA, you’re the best!


  5. VET says:

    I hope PCer did not go to the Golden Corral last weekend. A Vetern’s Motocycle Club was out there asking for donations to help send packages to the troops. I don’t know what she would have done if she gave a donation and didn’t receive a candy bar or cookies in return.


  6. ASH says:

    You know what this is not about winning a money it’s about having fun you just look like you work your kids untill they DIE!!!!


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