Interview with Ilta Dance Studio: Ilana Meshkausk
The Fordney Foundation is pleased to introduce a new segment to our dance blogs. Since this is the first year that we will be able to honor dance studios, periodically, we thought you might be interested in learning about what a Top 10 Studio has to say about their studio, careers and preparing as well as coaching students to win competitions.
This will be the first year that the “Three Top Studios” for the year will be recognized at the conclusion of the series in November 2018 during the Ohio Star Ball. The top studios for the year will win trophies! We wanted to bring this to your attention and make you aware that the Fordney Foundation is able to show you the top-ranking studios on our leaderboard, although it constantly changes and the scores are not always
posted in event order. These scores are based on the number of entries at a competition from each dance studio.
Having said that, I would like you all to meet studio owner, Ilana Meshkausk, who resides in Massachusetts with her husband, Tamaz Shiloshvili. We hope you will enjoy learning about Ilana and Tamaz’s careers, as well as their successful studio that produces winners in competitions.
Freddie Brock: Tell us your name and where you are originally from?
Ilana Meshkausk: I am Ilana Meshkausk, and I am originally from Kaunas, Lithuania. My husband, Tamaz Shiloshvili is originally from Tbilisi Georgia.
FB: Tell us the name of your dance studio and where it is located?
IM: ILTA Dance Studio, it is located in Framingham, MA.
FB: Can you give us a little background info about your career before you both became dance studio owners?
IM: We started to dance at age 6, me in Lithuania, my husband in Georgia. In 1993, my family immigrated to Israel. Tamaz and his family immigrated to Israel in 1990. Later we met and became dance partners. My husband and I were competing together, representing Israel. We competed in Ten Dance nationally and internationally. We became Israel Ten dance champions. (Note: Ten Dance is Standard: Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Tango, Viennese waltz, Latin: Rumba, Sambas, Paso Doble, Cha-Cha-Cha and Jive). In 2001, we moved to the United States.
FB: What led you to become studio owners and dance instructors?
IM: We started to teach at age 17 in Israel, we worked with kids and really enjoyed it. In 2001, we were invited to teach at Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Boston. After teaching for 7 years, we decided to open up our own place, where we could teach more kids at competitive levels.
FB: How many years have you been involved in studio dance ownership and what does it take to be successful at it?
IM: We have been running our dance studio for 11 years. We teach kids and adults for social and competitive levels. In order to be successful, you need to love what you do and continue learning more about it.
FB: When working with the dance students, do you have other instructors that also teach in your studio?
IM: We are a small studio. Besides me and Tamaz, we have another instructor, Jenya Didenko, that works with us. We are a great team and we also have guest teachers that we invite in from time to time.
FB: Is there a special ballroom dance that your studio is known for, or maybe a particular dance you enjoy teaching more than the others?
IM: We teach Ten Dance and enjoy teaching both styles.
FB: Why would an inspiring ballroom dancer want to be involved with your studio? Is there any type of technique or strategy you use that brings special confidence to your dancers who enter competitions?
IM: We put extra care and effort in absolutely every lesson we teach! Students and the parents know that we do support them. And being with them in most competitions, after each competition, we do follow up on things we notice that can help them look better in the next competition. At the last Nationals in Utah, we had 4 couples, all 4 couples made finals in J2 and Youth Champ levels. This makes us very proud! Both students and parents believe in us.
FB: Are you aware of the 2018 recognitions to the “Top 3 Dance Studios” who have the most students competing in our dance series? Isn’t it great that you now will be recognized for your hard work and efforts? Does this give you the incentive to do anything differently, to go the distance, to snag that award?
IM: This is very exciting and does motivate us to work harder.
FB: For all our readers and inspiring ballroom dancers, what would you say to them about the most important element they need to have if they want to be continually successful in placing in the top 6 at dancesport competitions?
IM: First of all, they must have good technique, stamina, and positive energy.
FB: What advice do you have for a person that knows they want to become a dance instructor/owner?
IM: First of all, you have to be a good and an honest human being, because people can sense that. You must be patient with yourself. From the start, it will take years to build your business and develop good students. And of course, you must have the knowledge on how to work with kids. Kids are all different and each of them requires a different approach. Also, working with kids is completely different than working with adults.
FB: Is there anything else you would like to say or add that we didn’t ask that might be helpful or interesting to our upcoming ballroom dancers and aspiring dance studio owners of the future?
IM: Advice for all dancers is not to chase after good marks, but focus on your dance quality. Work hard and in the long run, it will pay off and show in your results.
As a side note, one of Ilta’s youth couples won Latin and Standard awards at the Emerald Ball this May! I hope you can see from Ilana’s passion why Ilta Dance Studio is a Top 10 Studio! If you would like to contact Ilta Dance Studio, you can reach them at: 781-492-2769 and Ilta.dance.com.
Please feel free to visit Fordney Foundation’s studio category, you can also check out all the other categories featured on our website: www.fordneyfoundation.org by clicking on Youth Series on the homepage and then-Ranking Results. These are the categories you can view anytime on our site, so you can keep up with the latest leaderboard results.
Thought Of The Week:
Joy is not in things; it is in us – Richard Wagner