By Karen Billing
Staff WriterOn this summer’s season of “So You Think You Can Dance” on FOX, much was made of the age of the oldest contestant, ballerina Melissa Sandvig. At 29, she was in her last year of eligibility for the show, but the way she danced was ageless, keeping up with her competitors and finishing in third place among the girls.
Keeping with the theme that age ain’t nothing but a number when it comes to dance is a group of women at S.K.A. Dance Studio in Sorrento Valley.
Recently, S.K.A. owner Lori Larocque took eight of her Carmel Valley dancers to The Pulse in Los Angeles. The Pulse is a touring dance event hosted by some of the most renowned instructors in the business, making stops in cities across the country for a weekend workshop of dance.
The S.K.A. dancers, ranging in age from 30-something to 50-plus, took three “intense” days of classes with elite choreographers featured on “So You Think You Can Dance” - the Emmy-nominated Mia Michaels, Tyce Diorio and Wade Robson as well as hip-hop masters Shane Sparks and Laurieann Gibson.
The women learned routines they had seen on the show, some even before the show’s dancers did.
Larocque said theirs was the most unique group in attendance.
“We’re not 18-, 19-year-olds,” Larocque said. “We’re moms, we’re raising kids, we’re career-oriented. But we still take our dancing and training seriously.”
Dancers for lifeAt S.K.A., her most active group of dancers comes three times a week for advanced classes.
“Most students come because they want something extra, they want to bring dance back into their lives or find something new,” Larocque said.
At S.K.A., Larocque wants adult dancers to be challenged and take their dance to the next level.
Student Aura Emami said S.K.A. allows her to not only maintain her fitness and get a great workout, it also allows her to express herself and nurture her creativity.
“Dance is for life, and it comes from your soul,” Emami said. “It’s a passion.”
The S.K.A studio has been open for two years, branching off of husband Joey Larocque’s Shaolin Kempo Arts next door, a martial arts studio he has run for 10 years. In addition to being a very talented dancer with 30 years of experience, Lori Larocque also has a black belt.
S.K.A. offers creative movement classes for youngsters ages 2 to 5, as well as hip-hop and jazz for ages 6 through teens. But the adults get to have most of the fun, with classes in lyrical, pop, advanced hip-hop, Zumba (a Latin-based dance workout) and one sexy class called cardio stiletto.
Stiletto is a women-only class, and dancers are encouraged to dress the part - Larocque came in a gold ensemble and heeled jazz shoes. The most important thing to have for cardio stiletto though, she said, is an open mind and willingness to “get silly.”
Last week, instructor Mitchell Hills taught the women a saucy number to Britney Spears’ “Radar.” Hips swiveled, hair got tossed and the women brought lots of attitude to the steps.
If anything, the dances are age-appropriate; these are sexy movements intended for women, not children or teenagers.
“It’s so important as we get older as women that we stay tapped into who we are,” Emami said.
“We’re not just moms and wives. We’re still this inside.”
To find out more about S.K.A., visit