I started dancing at Debra Collier’s School of Dance when I was three years old. I was so excited to wear a dance outfit, with the leotard, tights, and ballet shoes. When my mom and I arrived at the studio, it was aflutter with smiles and laughter. Kids of all ages waiting for their class to start. Some my age with the same ballet shoes, others with tap shoes, and then the big kids with the shoes that I saw in all the storybooks my mom read to me, the pointe shoes. Immediately I looked up to them, they were so tall and grown-up. Three-year-old me was mesmerized by the fact that they could even tie their own shoes! When it was finally time to go to class, I started to have some butterflies in my stomach, but my teacher called us all in and had this great big warm smile and welcomed us with excitement and open arms. We even had a class demonstrator who was a big kid, and she was so sweet to us all! We sat down and went through class rules, and learned how to stretch, and then played a game where we acted like statues! When class was over, I ran into my mom’s arms and told her how much fun it was, and how I couldn’t wait to go back! Every week I looked forward to dance class, and when the annual recital came around, I was so ecstatic that I got to dance on stage. My teacher told us how proud she was of us and not to forget to smile big! My class and I were led on stage and we did our dance and the audience clapped and cheered for us. It was the best feeling a three-year-old could have! It was clear that I was going to keep dancing at Debra Collier’s School of Dance!
As the years went on, I took many different styles of dance that were offered and had many different teachers. Altogether I’ve taken ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, modern, and art of praise. With every style, class, and teacher I’ve learned something new. I took ballet on and off throughout my entire time at the studio. I have had many different teachers for the style as well. Through ballet, I have learned how to keep my body under control and have discipline when it comes to technique. Whether that be keeping my feet turned out or keeping my posture in check. Ballet has taught me about trusting a process of progress and working towards a goal. Each and every one of my teachers for the class gave me a new perspective on ballet, but all in all, they stressed how important it is to take ballet, as it is the foundation of all dance. I am so grateful to have been able to learn from the fabulous teachers about how to better my technique and all-around dance skills.
My personal favorite style of dance is jazz. I love the different characters I get to play. Whether it’s a flapper in the 1920s or a strong independent woman in our modern-day world. You get to style your movement to the music and story you are trying to tell. You have your quick, hard-hitting movement, and your slower and stylized choreography as well. One of the biggest things I have learned from my jazz classes, and from the dance school as a whole, is to not get mad at yourself for messing up. It is so easy to get frustrated at yourself for not nailing new choreography the first time. I am very guilty of this and so are many of my fellow dancers. My teachers at Deb Collier’s though, always encourage us and make sure they get it into our heads that making mistakes is a part of the learning process. With every misstep, you are growing as a dancer and figuring out how to get better.
Overall, I wouldn’t trade my experience at Deb Collier’s for the world. I have made so many friends who I have been able to dance with for many years. I have amazing teachers who support me and help me grow not just in dance, but in life as well. I have always viewed the studio as an escape from whatever is going on in my life. Every hard day can always be made better by going to dance class. You get to be surrounded by people who cheer you on and genuinely want you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. The phenomenal staff at Deb Collier’s is what makes this place so special. They push you just as far as you need to be pushed. They work with you, answer your questions, and care about you not just as a dancer, but as a person too. Through the good times and hard times, I know that the second I walk into the studio that I can leave whatever is happening in the real world behind me and focus on just dancing. Through my time at Deb Collier’s, I have learned to dance with my heart and to have a drive to be better today than I was yesterday. I can’t imagine dancing for 14 years at any other place.
Written By: Hannah Hutton