April 23, 2018
Headliners is one of the longest-running competitions in the country, as well as in the ADCC.
Mother/daughter team Irma Ziegler and Shari Tomasiello first entered the dance competition world in the early 1980s, when the Fred Astaire Organization chose to branch out from Ballroom events and start a performing arts competition. Shari and her mother worked with the Astaire organization for several years hosting regional events in New Jersey and Florida as well as producing their National Championships. When the Astaire partnership ended, Headliners was launched in 1989.
Since Irma’s retirement in 2016, Shari has taken over as CEO. She trained in New York City with some of the icons of dance: Charles Kelley, Don Farnworth, Phil Black, Bob Audy, Henry LeTang and others. After getting a B.A. in Theater Arts at Fordham University/Lincoln Center, Shari joined the staff at her mother’s studio, and taught there for 15 years, focusing on training young dancers (ages 3-9) in proper foundation and technique.
Headliners has grown over the years, and now holds 26 regional competitions, with a single National Championships hosting some of the best dancers from around the county—this year’s event will be in Atlantic City July 9-13, 2018. However, the Headliners organization is undergoing a major expansion with the establishment of a satellite office on the west coast, Fall conventions and a 3-city-a-week regional competition tour in 2019. Next summer will end Headliners 30th Anniversary with an exciting Nationals to be held on Broadway in NYC!
Asked about the changes she’s seen in the industry, Shari says that first and foremost, technology has had a huge impact. “In addition to the improved visual aspects of events, many will remember the days of cassette tapes and written score sheets where today we now provide video critiques on-site.” She also says that the level of training and talent has risen across the board since the early days of dance competitions.
Regardless of the changes, Headliners has always held on to their ideal of providing an honest and realistic approach to competition. True to their slogan, “THE competition FOR dancers BY dancers,” Shari and her staff have extensive backgrounds in the dance industry. Headliners also offers easy online registration, assigned dressing rooms, and backstage and lobby monitors with performance orders. The “Headliners difference” also includes FREE photo and video, 3 levels of competition, nominations to the US Dance Team, limiting entries for realistic competition times, scheduling system that allows for seven or more routines between costume conflicts and their “trophy or charity” program which allows studios to choose to donate the value of some or all of their trophies to organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project, Eleventh Hour Pet Rescue, the Alzheimer’s Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Shari says she’s continually inspired by the children who attend Headliners: “I love seeing them growing up on our stages, and achieving their goals.”
The ADCC is a relatively new organization, but Shari sees it making a difference in the dance competition world, bringing people together to look at the bigger picture: “While we all have our own niche in the industry, The ADCC focuses on issues and opportunities that we as business owners may not have considered… For me, the information available and the camaraderie with my fellow directors is invaluable.”
Read more about Headliners at www.headlinerscompetition.com.