I’m shooting this week’s “Hump Day Love” to the one and only Dance 10 Performing Arts Center. Let me start by saying this post (long but I did my best) comes from all sorts of angles; as a former student, as a former teacher (not only there but at other dance studios) and as a lover of the arts.
I found Dance 10 during my Freshman year of high school when I had begun to realize that dance was going to be more for me than a hobby and actually be the thing that carried me into college. I needed a place that would give me more technique, more challenges in terms of choreography and let me have some fun. I had found a place (a high school) that gave me all of that in the classical forms but I was craving more and had realized that the studio I had been at wasn’t able to give it to me. I came to Dance 10 after some recommendations and I never left. It challenged me technically in terms of styles that aren’t considered “classical” and challenged me choreographically but the best part was that I smiled and laughed more there than I had ever done with not only the teachers but my peers. It was a “safe haven” for me and in my teenage years, I’m forever grateful for that.
That technique and choreography came from some of the best teachers around. Artist instructors are brought in from surrounding cities (NYC in particular) to provide workshops. Guest choreographers (who many times happen to be former students who have gone on to conquer the world) are brought in to provide new perspectives and push students out of the box. And the teachers there day-in and day-out with the students pour their hearts and souls into the students. Keep in mind I was very conscious about saying students and not dances. Yes, they put hours into creating those dances but they create dances with their students in mind. They find moments for every student to shine and ensure that the dances they create showcase the technique the students have been taught throughout the years. When students are cast in certain pieces for competition numbers or the Holiday special, it is not without thought or many hours of deliberation. It is well-thought out to give every student the right balance of moments to shine while also challenging them.
Many of the studio’s teachers were once the studio’s students. They went on to receive further education in dance and have come “home” to take that education and pass it on to the next generation. As their peer students in the 90’s (yikes!) I’ve had so much fun learning dance with them. As their peer teachers I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve seen Misty run from one end of the studio to the other just to give a simple correction but she wants to make sure that correction isn’t missed because for that one student it isn’t a simple correction, but could be the difference for making a technical element work just right. I’ve seen Lisa challenge herself in terms of how much she pulls her time thin to balance her full-time job, teaching and extra rehearsals but she does it with grace because the education she’s giving those kids means everything to her. I’ve seen Kayla have such patience with students that are truly struggling and help them get past the struggle and have fun. I’ve seen Jess be the one person one of the tiny two year olds need to turn their first stage performance from a crying mess into a smiling masterpiece. When I recommend Dance 10, I’m not just doing it because I went there or taught there, I’m doing it because I’ve lived it and experienced it in every way possible.
As a teacher, it’s to be appreciated when you can come in and truly just worry about the lessons you have to teach. I’ve worked at other studios where I have to do so much of the administration that I don’t get time to teach. The value placed on the talents teachers have to offer is high here. That’s why the staff behind the scenes is there and without their fabulous dedication to the job, the studio wouldn’t have grown from the 1 room rental in the American Legion when it was Dance 10 Studios to the entire building that is now Dance 10 Performing Arts Center (and yes, more than dance is offered there.)
But perhaps the greatest asset of this whole studio is the woman at its helm, Mary Ellen Reilly. It is her vision, her leadership, her talents, and her love that has turned this “dance studio” into “home” for generations of students. Her goal has always been to make sure that whatever path your child decides to take with dance…recreational, semi-professional, professional….that they have been taught a true dance education so that your money was not wasted, but also that it was done with love and respect for both the dancers and their family.
17 years ago I walked into Dance 10 and as I’ve grown up it’s been one of the few things I can always rely on.
This marks the studio’s 30th anniversary (I’m literally already stressed about the alumni dance) so it’ll be big and fabulous! Find out more via their website here.
I hope to see you at the recital!