How Can a Dance Studio Pay it Forward?
“The most important thing, for any of our students, is that they love it, and we do everything we can think of to foster that love.” Tim and Sherrie of Center for Movement Arts did not just build a dance instruction center back in 1997 when they opened. They strategically crafted a community that is based around instruction in dance and that is driven by respect, kindness and discipline. For anyone who has been to a studio but was turned off by a snooty vibe, you will not find that here. What you will find is an environment where dancers get high quality dance instruction while also being encouraged to be well rounded people. The emphasis on dance is very much balanced out by emphasis on academic success. Tim says the critical trio is family, school/work and what you want to do, in this case dance. For him it’s a pay-it-forward mentality. “We want a kid to fall in love with dance, get as technically proficient as possible, achieve academic success early on, go on to a good school, graduate and get a good job, then sit on boards, become supporters of the arts, volunteer, vote.” Whether the goal is moving on to be a professional dancer or not, CMA reminds kids that dance can remain a large part of their lives, even the primary focus.
The curriculum reflects the well rounded mentality as well and most of the kids start at age 3 and stay through high school. The kids program is ballet based, but they expose the kids almost immediately with elements of jazz and modern. As they move through the program they are strongly encouraged to branch out even further. They want their students to not be afraid to try completely new things. They’ll introduce African, Flamenco even Hungarian, reminding the dancers that even if it’s not your favorite thing it’s going to make you a better dancer over all. “Kids emerge fearless” Tim says. CMA also has an adult program ranging from classes for those who have never set foot in a studio in their life, to high intermediate.
Whether kid or adult, the goal is that the nearly 450 students that take class at Center for Movement Arts each week each feel safe, valued and engaged.