Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mom in the Spotlight: Dance Convention Owner, Hilary McAlister

photo: The Photo Junky
Hilary McAlister is an Artistic Director, and Co-Founder of Soul de Soul Dance Convention. She is the creator and Director of Tearstained Dance Company, which has been featured in PURE Magazine and performed at events around the greater Oklahoma City area. Hilary attended the University of Central Oklahoma as a Dance Major and continued her studies at summer intensives at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway. She frequently visits Los Angeles for continued training. Currently she teaches at Studio J School of Dance and travels teaching master classes and setting choreography on different groups across several cities. Hilary’s choreography has received numerous awards and honors.  Most recently one of her pieces, "Angel," was inducted into the Hall of Fame Dance Challenge as a Judge’s Choice and can be found featured on their website. Hilary knows that dance is the rhythm every person is born with; therefore, people dance alone, dance with, and or dance for something.  The experience, feel, and emotion of dance, is what drives Hilary to express her heart through dance.  With this understanding, Hilary hopes to touch, inspire, move, and encourage not only the dancers but the audience as well.  She believes dance is the language of the soul, which can move us to feel and experience something greater than ourselves and she feels blessed to be able to contribute to our world with something as beautiful as dance.

How old are your children? Boys? Girls? 
I have two boys. My older is 4, and the other is 4 months.

Where were you in your career when your children were born? 
With my first child I had just finished taking time to train in New York City, I was teaching full time at Studio J School of Dance in Edmond Oklahoma, and I was working with my dance company Tearstained.

I just had my second child in May. Currently I am the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Soul de Soul Dance Convention.  I am still teaching full time at Studio J, as well as teaching and choreographing throughout the year at other studios. 

How did you plan to navigate dance and motherhood before your children were born? Were you able to stick to your plan, or did you have to alter the script you'd written for yourself? 
To be honest, I didn’t have a plan. I was overwhelmed by the thought! I’m not afraid to let my artistic side kick in and I decided to improv my way through things. My career and children continue to change and grow, and I am constantly having to adjust the way I handle and juggle both. 

How did you come to start your own convention? 
We are an Oklahoma City/Los Angeles based traveling dance convention. My best friend, Mackenzie Martin- Crosley and I co-founded and direct Soul de Soul. We wanted a way to share our passion and love for dance with other young artists. Soul de Soul was created out of Kenzie's and my shared concern of the closed off community that we felt in our city due to the lack of opportunity to take from other local teachers outside your home studio, as well as the desire to bridge the gap between studios and dancers who were training down the street from each other three times a week. Our efforts were to create a place free from those boundaries and to offer a safe place where dancers, students, teachers and anyone with the shared affinity for dance could come create and experience others' talents. 

This is the founding integrity for our company. 

Being a convention owner and dance teacher, and wearing all the other dance hats those jobs, imply is extremely time-consuming. How do you balance time with your family and time devoting yourself to dance and the business of dance?
Fortunately, I have incredibly supportive and helpful people surrounding me. My husband is my number one fan always encouraging me to pursue my heart’s passion, and to chase after my career. He offers the help and support I need to be a mom and a dancer. He continues to remind me that I wouldn’t be the mom or wife I am if I did not have dance, it’s what keeps me grounded. With his support and the support of my family, friends, business partner, and boss I am able to find a healthy balance for both.

I have learned through trial and error when to set dance aside to play cars or kick the soccer ball, and when to focus on my career and teaching. This balancing act also includes early mornings with LOTS of coffee, afternoon playtime and late night choreography after everyone is asleep! I wont lie -- it is busy, but so far I have managed to spend lots of quality time with my family, giving them my all a while still pursuing dance!

I am really enjoying this crazy Dancer-Mom Life.

Okay. I am going to go there. As a convention owner what is your take on Dance Moms and the whole Abby Lee Dance Company universe?
Well anything that brings notice and awareness of dance is good, however, I feel that this particular show has made more parents skeptical of dance, dance teachers, and studio owners. So, although it is bringing awareness to dance outside of the dance community I don’t know that it is showing dance in the best light and what actually is happening in most studios.

People think that because someone teaches dance, they are dancing – getting a vigorous workout -- all the time. Often the opposite is true. How do you stay in shape these days?
Well, the exercise you get from teaching is definitely different from taking hours of class as a studio dancer, or college student. I try to dance as often as I can. I watch my diet closely and I make sure to exercise outside the studio -- cardio and circuit training – during the week.

What’s your best “why me?” mothering tale?
Well. . . I think the closest “why me?” moment I can think of took place this summer. It was two weeks after my baby was born, time for my husband to return to the fire station after his “maternity leave," and it was Nationals week.

So what else does a teacher mom do? Pile her kids into her SUV and head to competition. It ended up being so much fun, and my dancers (or my son's sisters as he likes to call them) were absolute gems helping me as I lugged one stroller, two kids, twenty bags, and a million post-baby hormones through the convention center.

In the end my dancers killed it and my babies were champs, so this “why me?” turned out to be a “why not?”!

Your advice for mothers on the entrepreneurial side of dance? 
I would say continue to pursue. Don’t lose your family in the process, but never shut down what is in your heart. If you do, your family will miss out on a huge part of who you are. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, to ask for advice, and, most of all, to say “no!” The “no” part is the hardest one for me!


Advanced, intermediate, beginning and teacher levels offered!
Get information (teaching faculty, schedule, hotel info) and register at

Photo: The Photo Junky

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...