Studio B dancers, taught by Brittany Blair, recently performed to a standing-room-only crowd of family and friends in the theatre at Southeast Community and Technical College followed by a performance a week plus later at the Black Bear Festival.
At the performance at Southeast at the prompting of my retired educator sister, a mother asked her daughter, “What benefits have you had from taking dance lessons?”
The little dancer replied, “I don’t know what benefits means.”
A 7-year-old girl might not know, but Lesa Kelly, whose granddaughter, Kaylee Kelly, 7, takes tap and ballet at Studio B, is quick to point out, “The classes help them with their coordination, social skills, and self esteem. They learn to follow directions. At the recital one of the children was missing from the group, and they all got stuck at one place in the number, but they pulled it together and went on.”
Those of us who have been watching Abby Lee Miller’s approach in “Dance Moms” to teaching dance cringe when a child runs off stage in the middle of a performance because we know that Abby Lee has a “take-no-prisoners” approach to teaching dance and that child is going to be the object of scathing comments.
On the other hand, Sabrina Brashears whose daughter Halie, 6, is a student at the studio in Cumberland, says that Brittany is positive with her critiques, “Nice try, now…” Sabrina indicates that “Abby Lee is sometimes hateful and that’s not the way to do it.”
Halie told me that when she told her friend, Lily, “Do the heel walk,” her friend was a bit embarrassed but quickly corrected the exercise. Halie says, “We get to do the hula hoop and our teacher lets us draw on little boxes and jump over the mats. It makes us feel happy and our teacher wants us to smile.”
Halie’s father, Chris Brashears, is the parent who normally takes Halie to dance lessons. He reports that he was laid off at Bledsoe Coal in December of 2013 and has been taking classes at Southeast. He expects to earn his associate degree in December of this year and a certificate in industrial maintenance. With these credentials and his eight years of mining experience, he then plans get a job at the Honda plant in Georgetown.
Of the dancing he says, “She likes it real good — likes playing with other kids. She has a blast most of the time although she doesn’t like all the effort it takes her to get in those tights. Once she’s there, however, she’s fine.
”When I see her on the stage, I’m so proud of her. She looks so beautiful up there dancing.”
When I asked Haile about the hip-hop classes scheduled for this summer, I said, “So you’re going to be doing hip-hop. Are you going to learn to spin on your head?”
For a minute she was baffled and then she said of the dancing she anticipates learning, “Crazy, crazy.”