Student of the Month – Ilana Blumen

What companies/classes are you currently in?

I am currently a Tap Cat, a Jazzcat, and a member of Hoofers Company.


When did you start at Center Stage?

I started at the Marlboro studio when I was seven, in second grade (2006-2007).


Do you remember your first dance routine?

My first routine was a jazz/hip-hop number choreographed by Sue called New York City Shoppers. It feels like it was forever ago, but I will never forget putting sunglasses on while onstage!


What was your Center Stage journey?

I started at Center Stage when I was seven and joined my first company, Kittens, when I was nine. I started tap company when I was ten as a Jr. Tap Kid.  Eighth grade was my first year as a Tap Cat and my final year of jazz company (at that point).  As a sophomore, I began assisting George with tap classes, and loved it, so I increased my assisting hours in the following years. In my junior year, I joined the new Jazzcat Company. As a senior, I became a part of Hoofers. It has been an incredible journey!


Why has it been worth all of the energy you’ve put in to it and the sacrifices you’ve made?

Over the years, Center Stage has become my second family and second home.  Dance has taught me a lot of skills other than how to dance. I learned time management, collaboration, and cooperation in a way I never would have otherwise.


Everybody here thinks of you primarily as “the tap dancer.”  Why tap?  What is it about tap dance that appeals to you so much?

I LOVE TAP. But that’s no surprise… I have always loved tap for the catchy rhythms and beats. Tap dancing is different than other forms of dance because not only do you move to the music, you make the music. Your feet are an instrument!


Who are your role models?  Whose life and values, either from your personal life or famous people, would you like to emulate?

George, Lainie and Tori have become huge role models for me. I have studied with George, Lainie and Tori since sixth grade. Lainie taught me the importance of poise and presentation, and not just while dancing. Tori, who I first had in sixth grade, and then not again until high school, has taught me determination. Jazz is not my strong suit, but Tori has, and continues to motivate me to keep trying to become the best I can be.


Over the years through Tap Cats and assisting classes, George has become my mentor. I have learned so many valuable lessons from him. One of the biggest lessons is cooperation. With only an hour a week for classes, it is difficult to pull together such incredible numbers in competition, but they happen because of the cooperation and the ability to trust in the vision. Being able to work well with other dancers plays a huge role in a successful number, and I will definitely take this ability with me wherever I go. I cannot imagine where I would be without my great role models at Center Stage. 


Assisting classes and volunteering for events around Center Stage has always been a big part of your experience here.  What have those things done for you, and why are they important to you?

On paper, it looks like a whole bunch of community service. In reality, I love being able to help, and in volunteering, I have become much closer with my Center Stage family. Assisting classes has allowed me not only to help younger students become better dancers, but allows me to return to basic steps on a weekly basis, making me a better dancer too. Assisting has also allowed me to develop a strong, mentoring relationship with George.


Do you do extracurricular activities outside of Center Stage?

Outside of Center Stage, I am very involved with USY (United Synagogue Youth) and Science League at my school. I have board positions in each of these and feel the same passion for them as I do for dance.


What’s your favorite movie and why?

I love so many, I can’t pick just one!  I become invested in (almost) any movie I watch.


Favorite food?

My favorite food is Chinese or Japanese food.


First celebrity crush?

I cannot say I’ve ever had one.


TV Show you’re embarrassed to admit you used to watch?

I take pride in the shows I watch! Some of my past favorites are Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, and Parks and Recreation.


What makes you laugh?

It’s pretty easy to make me laugh. A pun will never fail!


If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

If I were an animal, I would be a monkey because they are essentially a relaxed, simpler version of humans.


What’s next?

College! I don’t know where I am going yet, but I am excited for it.  I will be studying either biomedical engineering or biochemistry.


Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully, using some form of science, perhaps research, to benefit our world.


Will you come back to visit Center Stage, or are you gone for good when you’re out the door?

I’ll be back! Don’t worry! I can’t imagine leaving my second family and the place that means so much to me!