HOMEWOOD, Ala. (CBS42 Community) — In 1975, the doors of The Dance Foundation opened our community to dance and music education.
“The Dance Foundation is a place to learn to dance, as well as learn through dance. It’s about discovering what you can do and who you are,” said Diane Litsey, Executive Director.
“There’s a lot of joy here and a lot of curiosity,” said Hilary, a mother we talked to. “I mean, even as a parent watching the classes, I can’t sit still.”
Along with teaching strong dance technique, the faculty and the culture at The Dance Foundation emphasize exploration and discovery.
“I think when you think about the art form as a means of exploration, from a teacher’s perspective, a means of creative problem solving and risk taking, we really think of it as a way to create an environment in their classroom and an atmosphere where it feels safe to take risks and to explore. You know, to do a triple pirouette and fall,” said Artistic Director Rachael Inman.
Both parents and students at The Dance Foundation agree that one of the biggest things this studio promotes a love of dance for anyone and everyone.
“Some days, if I didn’t have dance, I would go home and I would start homework immediately and just, like, do it all night. But I know I have to take a two-hour break and go to dance and it’s been really nice because it relieves stress and relieves the stress of school and college applications and standardized tests,” student Kate Ennis said.
“My girls love to come here. They like to put on the little outfit and the tutu and come out and twirl and spin. And the teachers are so encouraging. It’s okay if you don’t do things perfect. They come with a smile. I sit and I watch. I’m smiling. And you can just see the happiness that radiates through their little bodies,” said Cheryl, another mom.
That happiness is not reserved for the confines of the studio. The foundation’s outreach program gives schools and social service programs throughout the area the chance to participate in the joy of dance.
“The studio program and the outreach program are really two sides of the same coin. It’s the same approach, the same love, and the same environment that our teachers and musicians create,” Diane Litsey said. “We are going to pre-schools, elementary schools, social service agencies and using dance as a learning experience, not only to learn how to dance, learn how to move, but also learn what they need to learn. Whether it is building language skills in the kindergarten, first, or second grade class, or it is working on developmental goals with a child at the Bell Center who has developmental delays, it really is very inclusive and extensive what we do out in the community.”
For mom Hilary, inclusiveness meant her son could take part in classes from as early as two years old. “And he wants to continue to dance. So what has happened here in his development, even with him growing up and all his friends playing baseball and all those other things, he wants to be here. And we have a male teacher here, so he gets role models as well to see that you can express yourself in this way.”
If you would like to learn more, Rachael Inman suggests walking inside the Homewood studio.
“I would say that this is a magical place. And in one afternoon and evening, you may experience a professional dance company. And because we have the two way windows, your child can stand there and watch a professional dance company, and thirty minutes later go to their own class taught by a professional teaching artist and a live musician.”
“Any child, regardless of ability or capability is welcomed here and, is encouraged to join us and to experience the joy of music and the expression of dance,” mom Kara said.
Enrollment for the 2017-2018 season is taking place now.
Click here to select a class for you and your child: http://www.thedancefoundation.org/classes/