Family Friendly Dance
Victory School of the Arts offers many types of dance lessons from tap, ballet, and hip/hop to modern, jazz, and lyrical. Any age can join, from three years old to adult.
"We have a Christian atmosphere. We use Christian, classical, or Broadway tunes that are family friendly," said Daniel Tardibono, who became the school's Director in 1999 when the school started.
Erin Simms and Kayla Jenkins, two instructors from Edmond, help train the over 250 students enrolled in the program. The school began with forty students. Ninety-eight percent are dance students, but there are workshops on acting, music, and guitar for ages thirteen and up. The season runs with the school year and includes summer classes.
The School of Arts is housed in the same building as Victory Church, a 7,000-member congregation that began in 1994 and is led by Pastor Mark Crow. The school houses five separate mirror-lined dance studios, three with floating floors to help absorb shock and prevent injury.
In 2004, Edmond's MetroSchool of Fine Arts closed and joined up as an addition to the already existing Victory School of the Arts. "About 25 of their students, along with their Director, Cindi Miller, came to Victory," Tardibono explained. "She now serves as our lead ballet teacher, as well as the coordinator of our ballet department at the studio."
"It is a great way to combine arts and the church," said Tardibono. "The newly remodeled facilities are used by the church on Wednesday nights and Sundays. We have a symbiotic relationship."
"Our school is unique because we have an opportunity to perform in Victory Church Productions, like for Christmas or Easter," said Tardibono. "It is a neat avenue for the students. They experience what happens backstage, hair and make-up, working with different directors, and video productions. Kids get excited to see themselves on Pastor Crow's national TV program."
Victory School of the Arts students have received numerous awards at dance competitions, including the overall Grand Championship in 2001 and 2004 at the Star Struck Regional Dance Competition in Branson, Missouri. Victory School of the Arts was also named the Dance Studio of the Year in 2003 and 2004 at the Dance Revolution Convention in Grapevine, Texas. In 2006, the VSA Company Dancers received a second overall national award at the Odyssey Dance National Competition. Recently, they were one of two Oklahoma dance troupes selected to perform in October 2007 for the Oklahoma Centennial Parade.
"I love seeing a child grow through this program," said Tardibono. "We've had a few dancers receive scholarships to study abroad and in college programs."
Tardibono, who is married and has an eighteen month-old daughter, became interested in dance while in high school. "I have had a passion for it since I was seventeen." The Director grew up in a Christian home and his parents were missionaries in Italy for many years.
The teaching staff at Victory School of the Arts has dozens of combined years of education and experience teaching in their specific fields. "We believe God has given each person talents and gifts that can either lay dormant or be used to improve communities and families and give glory and honor to God."
"Our teachers make the classroom environment challenging," said Tardibono. "We don't play favorites, pit kids against each other, and we never talk about weight or bodies that are thin or a fuller size. It's a place to come and learn. Dance is about the heart and your body follows the heart."
"I love to dance," said Lorriana Lee, a dance instructor at Victory. "It makes me feel strong, weak, thankful, determined, and joyous at the same time. I learn so much from each student. They minister to me through their dedication and actions."
"Dance is an art form," said Tardibono. "It invites you to involve your entire being, your body, mind and spirit."
"The dance school pushes for excellence. "Some of our competitions take Christian teams out into the ‘mission field.' We tell students they are missionaries for a day or two," said Tardibono. "We want to be recognized as a legitimate artistry. Be a light to the world and take Christian beliefs into the entertainment jobs."
Victory School of the Arts is one of the few fine arts programs in the state with a spiritual emphasis. Their vision is to provide students an atmosphere of quality education and train them for outreach using the Christian arts. Students receive both the knowledge of their chosen art plus how their talent can be used to further the Gospel.
"I believe strongly that excellence is a big mission," said Tardibono. "Sometimes Christian artists are brushed off as not being good. We want to be excellent on a world scale. We don't want to be mediocre.
"We believe that Christian art is one of the most powerful tools the Lord can use to reach what is now a very visual world."