This Fall marked the 17th year that Arts in Motion has been providing dance classes for kids and adults in the Ann Arbor area. I found myself thinking back to why I started the studio all those years ago.
So where did it all begin?
I am the youngest of three girls. I was a bit of a tomboy, but I also loved to sing and dance in my basement. I took a Ballet class when I was 4 which was a little too structured for me at the time. Then, my older sister started taking Modern Dance and the Maureen Deakin Dance Studio. She went to class twice a week and took class with the dancers in the company. They performed at the local community college. They danced to all kinds of music in bare feet and in all kinds of beautiful costumes. I wanted to be just like her, so at 11 yrs. old I started attending class. I learned classical modern dance technique – Graham, Cunningham, Hawkins, Limon, Horton. I danced right along with the adults and was expected to behave accordingly. I was invited to choreograph for a concert. And after performing with the company one Spring, I received my first paycheck for being a dancer ($5!).
In high school, I continued dancing and also sang in a few musicals and A capella groups. I wanted to continue performing so naturally I wanted to go to college in NYC. At Columbia University I auditioned for every musical possible and eventually was invited to choreograph a few. I also started attending dance classes at Barnard – Modern, Ballet, Composition, Dance History, and Dance criticism – every class that was offered. In all my classes I realized I loved that moment when a teacher said something to me that really connected, that made everything make sense.
I headed to the University of Michigan to further my training and to earn my MFA in Dance and Performance. While there I discovered a new love of ballet because of Judy Rice, the best teacher I had ever come across. I began teaching non-major dance classes as part of my teaching assistantship and found I was able to make good connections with beginners.
Gay DeLanghe recommended me for a job teaching creative movement to pre-schoolers at the YMCA. This was by far the most challenging teaching gig I’d ever encountered. A big class of tired preschoolers who weren’t necessarily interested in dance, but nevertheless, there we were. I learned how to gauge the mood of the room in seconds, how to change quickly from one activity to the next, how to come prepared with 4 times as much material as I thought we could possibly get through and how to abandon any plan in favor of whatever would work.
From there I taught at Dance Gallery, at the Jewish Community Center and at the University of Michigan, Flint. I continued to refine my teaching style and methods in the trenches. I realized that I loved kids and loved teaching. I had married my husband, Scott, also a dancer, and we had two kids under 5 in the house, Lisa and James (Christopher was soon to follow in the Spring of 2002). We knew what kind of dance classes we wanted to expose them to and what kind of teachers we wanted them to have so we decided to open our own studio where we could guarantee the kind of atmosphere we were looking for.
With some friends and some savings we opened Arts in Motion. And ever since then we’ve continued to refine our approach to dance, our Mission, Vision and Values into what the studio stands for now: At Arts in Motion we hope to change the world one dancer at a time. By teaching with respect, cooperation, acceptance, confidence, curiosity and open communication we hope to instill these values in our students so that they can be the best human beings they can be.
Thanks for taking the time to learn a little about me and my journey to become the Director of Arts in Motion Dance Studio.