I think we would all agree that covering the Morgantown Dance Company for our multi-media project turned out to be more interesting than we thought. I work across the street at Dunham’s Sporting Goods, and I have spent my long and boring lunch hours at the Mountaineer Mall, walking laps or grabbing some lunch. I never noticed the dance studio until we started this project.
When I first found it, I entered from the outside. Some guy out in the parking lot told me to enter a cement side door with a sign that says “do not enter,” then follow a long, skinny hallway straight, then make a right down another hallway, then a left to the studio. I didn’t trust him, so I passed on his offer, but lo and behold, a more trustworthy-looking security guard gave me the same directions.
Once I found my way to the lobby and got to talking to people, we soon realized that mostly the entire studio is run by volunteers. Only the instructors are paid. It makes you think that there is a community of people here in Morgantown that are so passionate about
dancing that they sacrifice a lot of their time to bring this studio to life.
The company is actually a not-for-profit organization. I also noticed that it was much less strict than your typical studio. Back when I was a dancer, I used to be afraid of my teacher because everything was taken very seriously. But here, the studio is less demanding and more focused on actually enjoying dance.
Students who dance at this studio are mostly free of financial worries. When I danced, we paid for not only the class, but pictures, costumes and yearbooks. At Morgantown Dance Company, it was different to see that performance opportunities are offered without the financial pressures of a recital.
You can read our story about how vital the volunteers are to the dance studio here – Morgantown Dance Company.
Everything is hand-made by the volunteers for performances including costumes, props and art work. A lot of the costs to put on the performances are done through fundraising. If you really think about it, these tasks become time-consuming for the volunteers. Painting, sewing, measuring, fundraising and the list goes on.
Another interesting aspect of the studio is the Leap n’ Learn program. Designed by doctors Annie and Beverly Spell, the program specifically teaches children at the ages of 3-6 to dance. The program includes a course that teaches new dance instructors how to teach these children at their current level of mental, emotional, physical and cognitive developement.
Watch our video here.
One of the instructors for the Leap n’ Learn program described the challenges of teaching the young dancers. She said the hardest part was keeping their attention span. At the beginning of class, each dancer gets 13 seconds of “share time” where they get to say whatever they want, but the deal is, they have to be good the rest of the class.
I think that knowing the inside scoop on any business or organization is interesting in its own way. It’s great that we could shed some new light on the studio.
— Antonia Cekada