GLENMONT — Inspirational Movement Dance owner Shannon McConnell said her favorite thing she has witnessed since her dance studio first opened last October have been the giant smiles on her students’ faces when they come through the door.
“I have danced since I was a young child and it’s always been a special place for me and this studio is a place I can turn to for a creative outlet and provide a family-friendly environment and it’s like my second home,” McConnell said. “I want to provide that for my own students and it’s been tremendous so far.”
Inspirational Movement Dance, located on 398 Feura Bush Road in Glenmont, had its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Aug. 19, attended by local well-wishers, families, Bethlehem Town Supervisor David VanLuven and the Chamber of Commerce’s President Maureen McGuinness. The studio provides dance classes to children for jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop and more; there are classes for adults too for ballet, modern dance and barre. Each dance genre and corresponding age group are offered mostly between $30 to $60 per month.
McConnell, also the studio’s director and primary instructor, has danced for over three decades and obtained a degree in Dance and Performance Studies from Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. She is an award-winning choreographer too and is joined by at least three faculty members at the studio who all have extensive years of experience in dance too.
McConnell said dance classes generally follow Bethlehem Central School District’s calendar in terms of how long classes run, as well as when they are off for holidays. She added that the 2019-2020 year for the dance studio commences on Monday, Sept. 9. For more information on classes, selections and prices, visit www.inspirationalmovementdance.com/classes.
When asked why the ribbon-cutting ceremony occurred last week while the studio itself originally opened on Oct. 21, 2018, she explained that she wanted to gather a community of students, parents and supportive locals first for such a ceremony and she did not think that she would have that much support when it first opened its doors.
“Things happen for a reason and I think I’ve made great decisions andone parent once told me when I was worried that I know what I’m doing and I can now showcase what I’m doing with this studio,” she said. “I thought that’s right and I thanked them for helping me realize that. I do offer more today than I did in October.”
Regarding that last point, she said the studio has 50 enrolled children for the fall now which “was double my number from last year. We have, on average, probably 10 to 15 adults too.” She added the studio benefits from its convenient location at Glenmont Plaza. “It’s right there in the community. I love Glenmont and the families I’ve attracted are really wonderful people,” she said. “I also draw in families from Selkirk and Ravena which I did on purpose because I don’t think they have much there to offer for kids. So, the parents are thrilled and while their kids are dancing, the parents may get groceries nearby here or even take classes themselves.”
She recalled discovering the studio’s space back in late August 2018 and she immediately pushed to have the lease set up in order to start construction and have it open by October. She admitted that setting up the studio’s website and social media pages were quite challenging. Her somewhat carpe diem-like disposition stemmed from how she said she did not dance as much prior to the studio’s opening and when she had just become a mother and a local part-time mathematics teacher.
“But after my second child, I realized I needed dance to be a major part of my life again. I thought the best way to make that happen is this dance studio,” she said, perceiving it as an ideal combination of her love for dance and teaching. “Our teaching method is gentle and we teach our students how to use their bodies correctly so there’s no injuries but we also want them to enjoy dance as an art form to express themselves.”
When asked what skills people can benefit from dancing, McConnell said, “Dance teaches us far more than the physical activity of dance. Dance provides kids and adults with confidence, the ability to speak for yourself and to mean it and be honest about it. I want the students to find that joy whenever they have a rough day too.”
Adding that the studio’s first year has been positive and successful, she hinted at looking into expanding into a second space one day. However, there are no more details regarding that for now. “We’re still building a community and a beautiful dance family. … Dance has provided so much for me since childhood and it’s really exciting to provide that same idea and tools to all these wonderful people coming through my doors,” she concluded.