OUR history & MISSION
So Fly Kids was founded in 2006 with the goal of empowering kids through movement with our in-school dance, and swim programs. In 2017, we expanded our programming to add our highly sought after winter, spring & summer camp, as well as our Performing Arts Studio at Runway, Playa Vista.
SFK Academy of Dance, opened its doors with the aim of providing quality, technique-driven dance instruction, in a positive, supportive, environment.
Our goal is to cultivate young dancers into confident, well-rounded individuals who not only have an appreciation for dance, but who reach for high achievement in academics, and community service. Our instruction is structured, and curriculum based, but also age-appropriate and individualized, to ensure each and every one of our students become excellent dancers, who love, and enjoy dance. In addition to dance skills, we aim to instill life skills such as respect, teamwork, and outreach, educating and inspiring our dancers to excel in the studio, on-stage, and beyond!
As very successful, long time children’s instructors themselves, So Fly Kids co-founders, Tanya Fishburn and Erica Brookhart, set out to find the BEST teachers in their field. Their goal was to find teachers that possessed the unique combination of three things:
Unsurpassed technical skill
The natural ability to truly connect with children
On their journey, Tanya & Erica quickly found that the first, and maybe second, quality wasn’t that hard to come by. The third skill however, was much more difficult to find. That special “kid magic,” was something you could not teach- you either had it, or you didn’t.
Passing up such applicants as, a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School of the Arts, a Jr. Olympic swim champion, and a “Final 10” contestant on So You Think You Can Dance, Tanya and Erica are proud to have found their So Fly Kids Team.
Tanya Fishburn – Co-founder | Executive Director
Tanya Fishburn is a former professional dancer & choreographer, and has worked with children for over 20 years. She began her career working with kids during her first year of college, as a group leader for a YMCA after-school program. Her exceptional skill and connection with children was soon recognized, and she was promoted to YMCA Site Director at the age of 19- leading seven group leaders, and over 200 children.
Combining her expertise with children, and her many years of dance training, Tanya began teaching ballet, jazz, tumbling, tap, and hip-hop to kids ages 2 through adult, at some of the top dance studios throughout Hawaii and Los Angeles including Brentwood Academy, and Dance Studio No. 1. She developed a strong following, with a reputation for really connecting with her students, and providing strong, technique driven dance classes that were fun and engaging.
Prior to launching So Fly Kids in 2006, she was the Director of the Beverly Hills Dance Studio. There, she developed a specialized, ballet-inspired method for teaching the Royal Academy of Dance technique (RAD) to her youngest dancers, through creativity, self-expression, imagination, and fun.
Tanya’s lifelong dream of building, owning, and operating a successful dance studio, finally came true on January 7, 2017. SFK Academy of Dance is a premier, state-of-the art, dance studio located in Los Angeles’ newest, most talked about entertainment and technology hub- Runway, Playa Vista. SFK offers classes in, classical ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, breakdancing, lyrical/contemporary, musical theatre, Acrobatic Arts, voice, and music classes for children of all ages.
Tanya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Dance from the University of Hawaii, and currently resides in Playa Vista California, with her two children.
Erica Brookhart – Co-founder | Artistic Director | Instructor
Touted as the “kid whisperer," Erica Brookhart, has the unique ability to connect and communicate with children in such a way, that she is able to teach them just about anything, effortlessly.
Erica’s first passion is dance. She has trained, taught, and choreographed at, some of the top dance studios in Los Angeles, and her work has been performed worldwide. She has developed a specialized jazz/hip-hop style of dance that includes a combination of a solid grounding of jazz technique, with the latest, age-appropriate, hip-hop dance moves, that kids love.
Erica is also a former Colorado state-ranked breast-stroker, and comes from a family of swimmers; her father a nationally ranked Ivy League college swimmer, and top U.S. triathlete.
Upon her move to Los Angeles to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Erica began teaching swim lessons at a well- regarded aquatics company. She soon became one of the most requested swim instructors, and boasts a 95% success rate in helping children overcome their fear of the water, and become skilled swimmers.
Erica holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in Dance from Colorado State University, and currently resides in Santa Monica California.
When Erica and Tanya met in 2006, they connected instantly, and co-founded a children’s enrichment company, “So Fly Dance,” with the shared goal of providing top, studio quality dance instruction, to as many children as possible. When Tanya asked Erica to give her own child swim lessons, she was astonished to see her then, barely 2-year old, begin swimming independently, after just 4 lessons. “So Fly Dance,” became “So Fly Kids” that very day, and Tanya and Erica continue to share the gift of music, dance, and swim, empowering kids through movement.
the benefits of dance and music
why dance and music?
Today we know more about how our children learn and grow than ever before, with solid data from experts in their field confirming the benefits of music and movement.
In addition to the clear physical benefits, even if a dancer eventually decides to hang up their shoes, dance lessons are still a great investment.
Not only will the student have a greater physical advantage of balance, timing, and flexibility for other sports, but dance education also has positive long-term effects on a child’s and adult’s socialization, cognitive functioning, academic performance, and emotional well-being.
Scientists found that dancing incorporates several simultaneous brain functions like rational thinking, music, and an emotional sense of well-being.
Dancing in a structured dance class environment with choreography fosters calculation and planning; sequential learning; patterns; spatial development; increased motivation to learn; mental flexibility and mastery; problem solving skills; holistic thinking (right and left brain inclusion); and memory.
Music engages the brain while stimulating neural pathways associated with such higher forms of intelligence as abstract thinking, empathy, and mathematics.
Music’s melodic and rhythmic patterns provide exercise for the brain and help develop memory. Who among us learned the ABC’s without the ABC song?
Developmentally appropriate music activities involve the whole child-the child’s desire for language, the body’s urge to move, the brain’s attention to patterns, the ear’s lead in initiating communication, the voice’s response to sounds, as well as the eye-hand coordination associated with playing musical instruments.
“A rich voice opens the ear and gives energy to the nervous system. Not only does it help children process and memorize the message, but it also increases their desire to listen more, learn more, and know more. A good voice fills the cognitive and emotional brain.”
– Paul Madaule, Founder and Director, The Listening Centre
Not surprisingly, the cognitive benefits of dance often translate to academic success.
School children exposed to dance may do a better job at mastering reading, writing and math than those who focus solely on academics.
Dancers work holistically using the right and left brain. The right brain dictates creativity, intuition, and a look at the whole, whereas the left brain is the logical, sequential and analytical side. In creating movement phrases (choreography), both sides work in conjunction with each other giving a more comprehensive approach than traditional schooling.
Students who take dance lessons often have better listening skills and better recall.
Students who participate in the arts are not only more likely to participate in a math and science fair, but also out-perform their peers on the SATs by 87 points.
Children who study dance and music score significantly higher than the national average on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
A 2007 poll found that 88% of all post-graduate students in college and 83% of all people earning $150,000 or more had extensive music training.
“Speech and music have a number of shared processing systems. Musical experiences which enhance processing can therefore impact on the perception of language which in turn impacts on learning to read.”
– Susan Hallam, Institute of Education, University of London
“Students who participated in performing arts such as dance and music, scored an average of 31 to 50 points higher for the math and verbal sections.”
– College Entrance Examination Board
social emotional benefits
Going far beyond better test scores, dance and music helps relieve stress and gives students a healthy outlet for creativity and self-expression, helping build self-esteem, self-confidence, and strengthened social skills.
Students participate in a community where appreciation and positive encouragement are held in high value, with kids encouraging one another in class.
Students gain a sense of accomplishment when a dance is memorized or a performance has been executed.
Performing on stage in front of an audience gives a dancer exposure to ‘doing or speaking’ in front of others.
Music is a creative experience which involves expression of feelings. Children often do not have the words to express themselves and need positive ways to release their emotions.
Participating in dance classes and performances allows individuals to work with others which will prepare them for future relationships, both personal and professional.
Social fundamentals enhanced in dance classes include team exploration; communication; camaraderie; cooperation; responsibility; tolerance; respect for peers, teachers, mentors and elders; problem solving; and patience.
“Resiliency — to bounce back after a disturbing event — is not something we are born with; it must be learned, and sometimes that takes many years. There is no vehicle more joyful and playful for providing such training than early childhood music and movement.”
– Dee Joy Coulter, Ed.D., Neuroscience Educator
“Music brings people together. Through music, children take an inner experience and move it into a shared creative experience. Group music-making releases energy which can be channeled in creative, productive directions. Children learn about themselves and others by playing music together and by listening to each other — tapping into hidden courage that can be played out by singing together or discovering the inner resources to listen quietly to another child’s playing.”
– Judi Bosco, Board Certified Music Therapist
Dance and music has the ability to inspire, move, and empower those it touches.
Here at SFK, we look forward to sharing that gift of dance and music with you.
*Sources: artsusa.org, examined existence.com, Reuters, Ltd., Early Childhood Connections, College Entrance Examination Board, Front and Centre Productions, The Movement Center