Local Studio Welcomes Dancers of all Levels

| November 19, 2012 | 0 Comments | Bristow Biz

The advanced pointe ballet class for 12-15 year olds at GDC in Bristow has students dancing to popular songs from Jason Mraz and Fun! (Photo Credit: Stacy Shaw)

Manager Karen Taylor doesn’t want age or lack of experience to keep anyone from walking through the doors of Gainesville Dance Center’s locations in Bristow and Haymarket.

“We aren’t just for the student who wants to compete,” Taylor said, explaining that GDC offers something for any student with the desire to dance, whether for one hour a week or 18. “Our recreational dance program is equal to our competitive one.”

Whether for fun or serious training, students who attend GDC have a wide array of classes from which to choose. Each week, approximately 50 classes are offered at each of the two GDC studios and more than 10 forms of dance are taught, including ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, lyrical, choreography, Boogie fever and pointe.

At the Haymarket studio, Adult tap and Zumba classes are also featured. Additionally, GDC has added an acrobatics class this season, a reflection of how athletically demanding dance has become.

“Between the two locations, we will find something for you,” said Taylor. “We offer a varied schedule, so we can accommodate the needs of the community.”

While the youngest students, aged three to six, start their dance experience at GDC with a combination class of tap and ballet, students over six have the opportunity to pursue whatever dance form interests them.

Dancers in advanced tap ages 14-18 produce a chorus girls style performance with a modern edge. (Stacy Shaw)

“We recommend ballet,” says Taylor, “but if they want to take a tap class instead that’s fine. We say see what you like, see what teacher you respond to.”

Students are grouped in classes by age and ability, and always have the option to move up or down a level until they find the right fit. All students participate in a recital in June.

Serious students interested in pursuing a future in dance can gain additional performing experience by earning a spot in the GDC Competition Dance Company or on one of the GDC Competition Pom Teams. The dance company has six different levels to accommodate different ages, and there are four levels of pom teams.

More than 100 students take part in a competitive program at GDC, and all have the opportunity to participate in conventions, competitions, shows and parades, including the holiday parades in Manassas and Nokesville.

“With our competitive dancers, we want to create an all-around dancer,” said Taylor. “We don’t want to create just a ballet dancer or just a jazz dancer. You compete in everything if you’re in one of our competition programs.”

It is this exposure to multiple dance forms and teachers which Taylor believes helps GDC students do well at competitions and conventions.

Many of the Bristow GDC tap dancers in the tap class also take tap, jazz or hip-hop, while others specialize in one area of dance. (Stacy Shaw)

The staff at GDC has been in the business of creating dancers for 12 years. Owner and Director Patricia Bray, Taylor’s sister, opened the Haymarket studio in 2001 after running a dance studio in Fairfax for many years.

The Bristow studio opened in 2004, in part to allow GDC to offer more recreational dance classes. Today Bray and Taylor oversee both studios, including 23 teachers and seven assistant teachers. They also receive the help of their mother, Miss Pat, who owned her own dance studio in Arlington for many years.

“We feel we have the best staff around,” says Taylor, who refers to GDC teachers as seasoned.

Many of them hold dance degrees and are accredited by associations such as Dance Masters of America, Dance Educators of America and the Professional Dance Teachers Association.

“We make sure we are putting teachers with the age groups they will mesh with the best,” adds Taylor. “We tell our teachers that all children have something to offer.”

With many graduates currently dancing in university programs across the country and several students who are part of the Kirov and Joffrey ballet programs, GDC has created its share of success stories. Still, its philosophy remains simple.

“We want to instill a love of dance in children. We want to help them with their self-esteem and confidence,” said Taylor. “We hope that all children who leave this studio feel good about themselves.”

The GDC also does what it can to instill a sense of community in students. In early November, the lobby of the Bristow studio was filled with bags of clothing and comforters, all student donations headed up north to areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

“We could fill this room with trophies,” says Taylor, “but that’s not what it’s about.”

Gainesville Dance Center is accepting new students through mid-January. All new students receive a free week of trial classes. To register, visit the Haymarket location at 6755 Leaberry Way or the Bristow location at 12853 Braemar Village Plaza.

Written by Jennifer Sullivan, Contributing Reporter 




© 2012, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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