Our studio was once called Jill Johnson’s Dance Studio. The first owner started her small business in a small, underserved town, 35 years ago. She started with just one room and eventually grew her business into an integral part of the community that would welcome many generations of families. Over the past 35 years, she shaped the lives of many young aspiring dancers in a town that had no other place for them to follow their dreams. One of those families was mine. I took my three daughters to this studio not knowing just how much it would mean to my girls or knowing how it would influence our lives. Because of this studio, my daughters had a place to make friends, a place to learn responsibility, and a place to express their emotions. Little did I know that I would become the owners right hand woman and eventually continue her legacy. The first owner retired less than two years ago, and I am honored to share her love for influencing the young dancers to be the women that they all grow up to be.
As a female run business in a small town, we feel the responsibility to give the children of our community a safe space to show their emotions and make lifelong friends all while preserving the art of dance. Dance is a beautiful thing. It is hard to put into words just how much it can impact someone’s life. One might think it is just a talent someone can develop but it is more than that. Some of our students rely on us to be their constant in a crazy world, some rely on us to be their therapy as they navigate the stresses of life, and all of them rely on us to help them achieve their dream.
When the first owner retired, we were fully prepared and excited to be continuing the hard work that she had put into the dance studio. The first year and a half was a whirlwind full of successes. My daughters and I felt so loved by our dance community as we stepped into the new role of dance studio owners. Our parents and students mean the world to us. But like every mountain, the highs are high, and lows are low. As we climbed the mountain, our students flourished, and our hearts did too. Then the Coronavirus hit the world. We were immediately shut down. With the rest of the world, we were distraught but hopeful that this would only last two weeks. As time went on, we knew our students were relying on us and we began classes on zoom, hoping that we would still be able to have our annual June recital. Our young students were completely crushed to hear the news of our recital being cancelled. When times get tough, dancers keep on going, and boy did it get tough.
As if COVID-19 hadn’t been hard on us already, we were distraught when we found out that our building had been sold and the new landlord didn’t want us to stay. We had just finished updating the entire studio, new floors, new paint, new everything. It hadn’t even been two years since owning the studio, we just upgraded the rooms, and we are not only facing an unprecedented pandemic but now we are having to relocate and find a new home. How were we going to tell our students and families that the place they’ve grown up at is no longer our home? The journey began to find a new one. After all, home is where the heart is, and we sure do have a lot of heart in our community. The resilience is astounding.
Fast forward to today, we have found our new forever home in the heart of our small town. However, we are continuing to face challenges. Just as we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, another rock gets thrown in our way. We told our families the good news of finding our new home and yet, there’s more we have to navigate through to guarantee that our dancers have a home. Studios don’t just appear. They need specific equipment like mirrors, bars, and dance floors. If moving was our only challenge, that would be one thing but now we are having to move with minimal funds due to our extremely low enrollment rate. COVID-19 has forced many children to quit. Unfortunately, our studio is taking a toll. While we try to persevere and stay optimistic, the stresses of not knowing how we will be able to afford this new dance studio makes us wonder if we can. This is why we need your help. It is not only my daughters and I that need your help. Our dance community needs a safe place to continue making friends, to continue expressing themselves, and continue following their dreams. This will not be possible without the generous donations from those that can. I know everyone says it, but when I say every penny counts, I truly mean it with every ounce of my being. This isn’t a business that serves adults who can cope with the loss that this year has brought. I don’t even like to call it a business. This is a home. A home to children who count on us and are now counting on you to help them. Please consider donating any amount to help the only dance studio in our town survive. The only place that many of these children can come and escape the world.
Thank you for taking your time to read this. I appreciate every second that you spend helping us continue our journey. If you can’t donate, please think about sharing our story with others. Our children depend on it. Thank you, again!
The cost to build a dance studio:
Mirrors for two dance rooms - $5,000
Dance floors for two dance rooms - $10,000
Ballet barres for two rooms - $2,000
Miscellaneous (bathroom, paintings, etc.) - $3,000
- Shannon Castro
- Anita Meagher
- Morgan McGeehan
- Vanessa Luna
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