Some people live to dance. Some people are born to dance. Others, well, they just dance because it’s what they love to do. For Lee’s Summit West High School junior, Blake Piatczyc, 17, dancing in all of its art forms has been a part of his life since he took his first steps.
“When I was really little, I used to put on dance shows for my parents, and I would frequently involve my siblings,” Piatczyc said.
The oldest child in a very creative and ambitious family, Piatczyc is just as enthusiastic about his endeavors as he is of those of his siblings, Joey, 15, Sophie, 13, Katerina, 9, and soon-to-be-born, Lucas. Parents Joseph and Victoria round out this incredible crew, and are the two people to whom Blake lovingly gives all of the credit for his success in life.
“I am so blessed to have two parents who have always encouraged and supported all of us, no matter what,” he said. “They strongly believe in taking opportunities that come our way, as you just never know whom you will meet and what you might accomplish.”
For Piatczyc, those opportunities have consistently come in the form of dancing. When his parents realized he was very serious about his passion, they began to scout out dance studios in the area that could help Piatczyc develop and nurture his talents.
“When I was about seven years old, we checked out many dance studios in the Lee’s Summit area, and it wasn’t until we found Steppin’ Out – The Studio, that I felt I had really found a place in which I could thrive. I instantly fell in love with the place and its family-oriented feel. Phyllis Balagna, the director and owner, has been such a wonderful blessing to me,” Piatczyc smiled.
For Piatczyc, dancing was not just a passing fancy or short-lived phase. While he gave other activities and sports a try, he always came back to dancing. Initially, he would practice and go to various lessons three days a week. Now, he practices nearly every day, usually from 5–9 p.m., either by himself or withgroups. He is trained in many forms, including ballet, jazz and contemporary dance, the latter of which he calls his specialty. He even teaches classes at Steppin’ Out.
“I love kids, and I really love to teach dance,” Piatczyc noted. “For me, it is amazing to be just 17 years old and be able to teach others.”
Along the way, Piatczyc has learned a thing or two about performing in a very big way. He most recently competed in the hit reality show, Live to Dance, hosted by Paula Abdul. He spent several weeks this past winter in Los Angeles preparing for and competing in the biggest dance competition of his life, a dream-come-true for this Midwestern young man who first danced in his living room at home and has now progressed to dancing in everyone’s living room across the country.
However, the road to Hollywood happened almost unexpectedly for Piatczyc.
“Dancetown Chaos, a troupe of 12 boys from Miami, Florida, found out about me through Phyllis, “explained Piatczyc. “They come from the number one dance studio in the country, and they invited me to be a part of their group. I first performed with them in the summer of 2010. We later heard about the auditions for Live to Dance, and we auditioned for the show in New Jersey, Three weeks later, we learned we had made it to the show. We were soon headed off to Los Angeles.”
The grueling schedule and fast-paced environment of the show business world in L.A., did not wear down this determined young man. In fact, it gave him renewed enthusiasm for the art of dance.
“We were basically up ‘round the clock,” said Piatczyc. “We would awaken at six in the morning, have breakfast, rehearse until Noon, have lunch, be in rehearsals at CBS until seven in the evening, and then continue with more rehearsals until three in the morning.”
Live to Dance was a seven-episode series, with the finale that aired on February 9, 2011. Despite their fierce dedication and commitment to the competition, Dancetown Chaos was not voted in by viewers for the top three slots. However, that barely fazed Piatczyc, who, instead, chose to view his participation in the event as one of extraordinary opportunity.
“This was the greatest thing ever,” he emphasized. “I was on a national television show hosted by Paula Abdul and performing in Los Angeles in front of millions of people across the country. What could be better than that? I met lots of people and had a great experience. Even though we didn’t win, Paula told us that we were one of the best acts she has ever seen.”
Piatczyc obviously appreciated being surrounded by such energy and described Abdul as “the most kind-hearted person ever. She is absolutely amazing, genuine, and loving. She even sent me a thank you note shortly after the show. How cool is that?”
Now that this young man has such an incredible dance resume under his belt, what’s next on the agenda?
For starters, he plans to go to New York this summer with a group to perform in a Broadway theater, and one of the choreographers of the Live to Dance show, Travis Payne, who has also choreographed dance numbers for such talent as Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, and Madonna, has expressed an interest in getting Dancetown Chaos their own show at some point in the future.
Without missing a beat, Piatczyc indicated that his ultimate goal is to perform on Broadway in New York, becoming a back-up dancer for a major celebrity, and finally opening his own studio, and being a mentor and teacher for others, possibly in New York, Florida or Los Angeles. He is not sure yet, but that’s okay. He has yet to graduate from high school. Then there’s college to think about, as well, and on the radar for Piatczyc are Marymount College in New York and Tisch School of the Arts in New York City.
Not one to focus on just one aspect of his career, Piatczyc also aspires to create his own clothing line, a mix of fun, casual, and, of course, dance wear. However, for Piatczyc, his heart will always be in the performance arena.
“I love to perform,” he said. “It puts joy in my heart. I like to sing, act, and dance. Dancing is an incredible art form. It allows me to paint a picture and tell a story, a story by which people are touched and perhaps even moved to tears. That is what I love most about it.”
Expressed like a seasoned professional, let’s hope that Blake Piatczyc keeps a song in his heart and rhythm in his steps forever. We’re all probably familiar with the expression, “Dance as if no one is watching.” However, I think we will all want to keep an eye on him for years to come.