Krista Miller has been dancing for decades, making her mark on the dance industry as a Los Angeles Laker Girl, on stage (Prince, Bare Naked Ladies, Fastball, Elvis Costello), and in commercials, TV (the Academy Awards, Saved by the Bell, Doogie Houser), and film (The Mask, Cinderella). Yet, with all of that exposure, she always knew that she wanted to teach. She just wanted a professional career first. “I am what people like to say is a world-renowned technique teacher,” Krista laughed, describing herself.
Krista is the founder of The Space, a studio in Orange County California that blossomed from Krista’s passion for teaching technique. When Krista’s daughter Autumn Miller was young, Krista started teaching private lessons, and with studio space hard to find, they ended up creating a small dance room in their home where the lessons were taught. Before long, Autumn was spending more and more time in that room, dancing and improving. As Autumn progressed as a dancer, Krista and her husband started posting videos of her dances on YouTube to share with family. Little did they know that they would actually end up with a following.
At the time, they had never even heard the word “viral” in the context of social media, but before they knew it, they had accumulated an accidental following on YouTube. Interacting with people commenting on their videos led to the creation of regular video posts, teaching their subscribers the technique Krista is passionate about in a series called Trick Tip Thursdays. “It kind of just grew and grew and grew,” Krista said. “We had no idea what we were doing…It kind of grew organically.”
Once Autumn outgrew their home studio, they knew they needed more space–which is how they ended up with the name The Space for their now iconic studio. More than a studio, The Space’s students train in dance, acting, and technique, and they even offer a homeschool program called The Launch which allows young dancers to train full-time. Then the COVID-19 pandemic came, requiring them to send all of their students home. They haven’t held classes in The Space since March.
Well, not physically.
“We’ve always had this idea of The Space TV and never had the time,” Krista told us. While it was a shock to have to send everyone home and shut their doors, the pandemic was also the perfect opportunity to launch their new platform and continue doing what they love, instructing dancers.
“We’ve had to completely adjust. What can we do to support other studios out there, other kids that are trying to basically continue to train?” Krista shared, outlining the process of developing The Space TV. “What we tried to do was create something that made it feel like you were really in a class.” So, their dance studio now doubles as a TV studio. Creating videos in a variety of genres, ranging from ballet to TikTok Tuesdays, The Space’s faculty are still hard at work producing videos of full classes, posted on a schedule throughout the week.
Unlike the classes that many dance influencers have been offering via platforms like Zoom since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered studios, The Space TV’s classes are shot with a live delay, so that the camera can move around making you feel like you’re actually in the class, and then the classes stay online so they’re always accessible to watch again and again, or from by dancers across the world in any time zone. (The Space TV is hosting classes to dancers in over forty countries.) Dancers can attend the classes when it’s convenient for them. It also makes The Space TV more than a temporary solution for a dance world gone digital. “I wanted to be able to work around when the kids go back to dance or school,” Krista said. “That they will still continue to train at their studio, but be able to take the classes at their leisure or use it in addition to [in-person classes], almost like a tutor-training.”
The Space TV has seen users of all ages, from kids to adults. “A more seasoned dancer may be hesitant to take a drop-in class with kids, but The Space TV has made it comfortable for all ages to just jump in and take a class any time right from their home.” Krista and everyone else at The Space TV were surprised to learn this, but now it’s part of their teaching philosophy. People that haven’t danced in a long time can take a class without feeling self-conscious about their age or skill difference. The Space TV allows people to train in areas they’re not as strong in without being held back by anxiety about their skill level. “Let’s be honest. Dancers are very hard on themselves,” Krista said. “We like to only train in things that we like, so we look good.”
“This is the new future of dance, fortunately and unfortunately,” Krista commented. “We want the live part of it to come back,” but in the meantime, they want to encourage dancers to keep working hard at their passion and to be responsible and professional members of the online dance community. In each of the classes offered on their platform, The Space TV’s faculty (which includes Lacey Schwimmer, Mark Meismer, Autumn and Krista Miller, Hannahlei Cabanilla, Tara Ghassemieh, lots of Special Guest teachers, and many more) promote positivity as well as movement. “If those kids are confident out there,” Krista said, “they are going to become better humans, not just better dancers.”
While learning at a distance has made opportunities to explore and improve a click away, it has also meant that many dancers feel farther away from the global art community that ever before with many theaters and studios still shuttered due to the pandemic. Making staying connected a priority has allowed The Space TV to bring the studio into the virtual world without forgetting the world that we’ve left behind (at least for now). Tracking #TheSpaceTV on Instagram (@TheSpaceTV) and TikTok (@TheSpace.TV), they’ve been able to watch and encourage their virtual students’ progress and celebrate their successes with them. Their ultimate goal, Krista said, “When dance comes back, they’re ready.”
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