Dancers come from all over the Chicagoland area to train with Alma Dance School. Listen to what our dancers and their parents share about Alma Dance School and why they choose to bring their daughters and/or sons to train at our classical ballet school in Wheaton. Some dancers drive for over an hour each way, while others come from the local community. You'll see why the directors, teachers and atmosphere are such a draw for each of the dancers.
"EXCEPTIONAL IS THE WORD
We begin with thoughts from Carol and James Sanders who have two dancers at Alma Dance School: Madison, Level 4, and Kennedy, Level 3, both in the Pre-Professional Division.
“Exceptional is the word that best describes our experience with Alma Dance School. We have had the pleasure of knowing Vilma and Guillermo for nearly two years and have been part of Alma Dance School for almost one year. We cannot believe that we are so fortunate to have a studio that teaches ballet at a professional level right here in the western suburbs.
No other dance studio that we have been a part of has helped our daughters in their ballet technique and their confidence level more than Alma Dance School has. Vilma and Guillermo are very caring people and teachers; all the students at the school are given opportunities to showcase their talent and to learn the proper form of ballet. Vilma and Guillermo are also visionaries with their school and they are involving the students in large-scale professional-style productions throughout the year; thus, creating excitement for the students and the parents at all times.
On a personal level, our two daughters have gained so much in the past year since training with Vilma and Guillermo; their skill level has grown extremely fast, not because they are being rushed too soon to try things beyond their capabilities, but because of the meticulous attention to detail and proper ballet technique that Alma Dance School emphasizes in their training. A significant amount of time was dedicated initially on the basics with them, and it has paid off greatly as their training has progressed -- quicker development of more challenging technique, much less overuse and injuries, and a much higher level of self-confidence. We cannot thank Vilma and Guillermo enough for the wonderful school they have created and for sharing their talents as professional dancers, teachers, and mentors to all of the students,” Carol and James Sanders.
"The training at Alma Dance School is so good. I was at a really low level and Vilma helped me so much. She really focuses on technique, but is also so encouraging. When you audition, you are prepared because of their training. As dancers, we have become so close. It’s fun. We work so hard, but we really enjoy it," Madison Sanders, Level 4.
"You get really good training, but also have a lot of fun. The teachers are really nice and good. They push you to be a better dancer. Vilma is the nicest teacher. She started my ballet training, I really like her. The girls are all really nice. They always know what’s right to say. Even though they’re all older than me in my level, they invited me in. Since they’re such nice people and such hard workers, it makes me want to come in to dance each day. Also, if I didn’t have good teachers, I wouldn’t be excited to dance," Kennedy Sanders, Level 3.
Next is from a the mom of a Level 5 dancer, Olivia, who trained at the Pacific Northwest Ballet for the summer and has placed at the Youth America Grand Prix competition after training with the school's directors.
“Vilma and Guillermo have been training my daughter for more than five years. There are many dance studios in the area who say they can teach ballet, but not all dance instructors have the ability to truly train a dancer. It requires attention to the smallest detail; something Vilma and Guillermo possess. My daughter was trained by Vilma to compete in the Grand Prix 2015 (a world-wide competition for serious ballet dancers ). She won third place in a division of more than 100 girls. She also just returned from the summer intensive program at Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) in Seattle. Her pointe instructor at PNB told her that she has been "very well trained". Good training shows and it makes a huge difference,” Gretchen.
“I've trained with Vilma and Guillermo ever since I was eleven years old. They are without a doubt the best classical ballet training in the Chicago suburbs. With their training I placed third at the YAGP Chicago semi-finals and was accepted into Pacific Northwest Ballet's Summer Intensive. Vilma and Guillermo demand perfection and discipline; they won't stop until they receive nothing less. Also, the paint job in the studio is exquisite!" Olivia, Level 5.
"Without a doubt the best classical ballet training in the Chicago suburbs"
"We have been blown away by the progress"
Following is from Dan & Meredith Holt and their daughter Julia, Level 4, when asked about their experience with Alma Dance School. They drive 45 minutes each way for Julia to train here.
Length of time training with Vilma and/or Guillermo:
"Two years. Julia trained with Vilma for a year at another studio before she started her own."
Why did you choose Alma Dance School?
Meredith: "Julia thrived under Vilma’s teaching at our old studio. We saw so much progress in her in so many areas that when Vilma decided to start Alma Dance School we knew we needed Julia to continue her training with her."
How do you feel about the training you receive here and how do you feel it has impact in your progress?
Julia: "The training at Alma Dance School is very professional. It gives a dancer an idea of what they might be experiencing in the future; also there are no mixed styles of ballet in the studio which I think benefits a dancer a lot because it allows them to learn one technique without worrying about another. I think I have progressed at Alma Dance School more than anywhere else. The training here is really good and stable. If you asked anyone, they would tell you how great it is. Training at Alma Dance School has ultimately just made me a better, more confident dancer and I think I will continue to improve here.
Meredith: We have been blown away by the progress that Julia has made in just one year at Alma Dance School. Teachers would always talk about her potential as a dancer and now I feel that with the training she is receiving with Vilma and Guillermo we are seeing that potential start to be realized.
What are your favorite classes and why?
Julia: My favorite classes are ballet, pointe, variations, and partnering because they are well taught and are the things that help me improve most as a dancer.
What do you feel about the atmosphere of the school?
Julia: I think the atmosphere of the school is very welcoming and professional. The teachers are really nice and understanding, and you can tell that they really want to help you.
Meredith: At Alma Dance School the atmosphere is very supportive. There is an understanding between student and teacher where each knows that they will bring their best efforts with them into the studio each day. The students work hard and are taught that hard work brings with it great results. The teachers are kind and caring but still set a high standard. They are also sensitive to what works for each student and how to push them and motivate them in a way that will be productive. It’s great to know that they can joke around with their teachers and be honest and open with them outside of class but in class they are very focused and respectful.
Alma Dance School is like a second home for Julia. Vilma and Guillermo care so much about her. They are passionate about helping her become the best dancer that she can be. The other students are very supportive of each other and are excited for each other’s successes. There is a high standard of excellence at this school and it is wonderful to see the growth in each dancer as they willingly rise to the challenge."
"Vilma and Guillermo’s love of dance shines"
Chris and Ann Thoms are parents of a Level 4 dancer, Claire.
“Vilma and Guillermo are wonderful teachers and directors. Vilma and Guillermo’s love of dance shines through both their dedication and enthusiasm toward each and every student. They bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Alma Dance School. Each dancer is welcomed and encouraged to pursue his/her passion for dance. Alma Dance School is a bright star on the horizon,” Chris and Ann Thoms.
"Other teachers always comment about how technical and solid her training is."
Following are thoughts from Jennifer Blahnik and her daughter Julia, whose future aspirations are to be a professional ballet dancer.
"Julia has trained with Vilma for five years. Whenever Julia is away from the studio at auditions or master classes, the other teachers always comment to her or to me about how technical and solid her training is. Vilma is not only concerned about the girls' training, but she also cares about their nutrition and keeping them injury free. Her discipline and strong work ethic have been beneficial in Julia's life," Jennifer Blahnik.
"It’s friendly, professional and a good environment here. The girls are so nice. We’re not competitive with each other. Everyone is nice, friendly, and fun to be around. We work really hard. The teachers are very technical, which you can’t find at many places. They’re not mean, but will correct you," Julia Blahnik.
Kathleen Iverson has two daughters who dance at Alma Dance School, Dana, Level 4, and Kristen, Levels 5.
"My daughters have taken class with Vilma and Guillermo for the past 6 months at Alma Dance and earlier at another studio and found them to be highly dedicated and skilled teachers. They create a positive climate in their classes and are highly supportive of both advanced and developing dancers. Their studio facility is well designed and equipped and is also bright and inviting. I highly recommend Alma dance for both pre-professional and recreational dancers," Kathleen Iverson.
"There is real joy and excitement"
A former professional dancer herself, Mary Lewis and her husband, Mark, have four daughters who take ballet at Alma Dance School.
“One word comes quickly to mind when I think about Vilma and Guillermo. Joy! There is real joy and excitement in the atmosphere at the studio. I think what Vilma and Guillermo offer is a rare combination- excellent training, encouragement, discipline, and a true love for their students. My daughters have not only grown in their technique since studying at Alma, but I have seen them grow in their confidence and joy. I was a professional dancer for 15 years and know something about what it takes to become a dancer; I am so grateful that we finally have such an excellent studio in Wheaton,” Mary Lewis, mother of four dancers, from the Children's Program to the Pre-Professional Division.
"I love how one-to-one they are. Vilma and Guillermo get to know you really well. They’re great at giving you corrections and teaching positions. There’s a friendly atmosphere. Everyone is so nice. No one is competitive at Alma Dance School. Everyone is very friendly; they welcome everyone here. It lifts me up to be here. All the girls are supportive. I love how Vilma and Guillermo can make a joke out of corrections, too," Olivia Lewis, Level 4.
"Vilma and Guillermo really push you to do your best in all classes, even conditioning. Before when I was at another studio, I didn’t like ballet. But now I really like it! Students here are really nice and encourage you. Teachers give you confidence and encouragement during class and outside of class. My whole level is really nice. The other dancers compliment you. We have fun together. It’s easy to understand each other," Ruby Lewis, Level 3.
"Dancing more efficiently"
"Olivia has been dancing with Alma since March 2015. Her dad and I have noticed a dramatic change in how she carries herself and that she has not been complaining of any hip or knee pain. They have corrected a few bad habits, and focus so much on technique, that she is dancing more efficiently...and feels a huge change. Her goal is to become a professional ballet dancer and I know Vilma and Guillermo will help her achieve that goal," Tim and Laurie Albion.
"I really like coming here because Vilma and Guillermo push you to try your best. They always make sure you’re doing your best. They want to make sure you don’t fail and that you excel. The girls are all really nice. They help you if you’re struggling and help you get it right. All the dancers are very supportive. It is really nice to come here every day. It’s like an escape from school," Olivia Albion, Level 4.