The Beat balances rigor & joy in its dance training

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Colleen Murphy’s mother enrolled her in dance classes in Toledo when she was 3. “I don’t remember not dancing.” Now as the owner of The Beat dance studio she’s the one helping to shape the moving memories of hundreds of young girls, and a handful of boys. The Beat Dance Company just completed its 10th year in business, and its first full year in its new studio space at 1330 Brim Road in Bowling Green. Like the parents of many of her students, her mother wanted to give her an early start. Murphy said she has mothers of children as young as 18 months inquiring about signing them up for dance lessons. The little ones have to wait a year before they can start in the studio’s Mini Movers program. From there they can continue through high school, and beyond. College students who studied at The Beat will return in the summer for classes, Murphy said. She said she can often spot the young students who will stick with dance. “It’s how eager they are to be here. They get here early and don’t want to leave at the end.” The demand for dance, driven by such pop culture phenomenon as “Dancing with the Stars,” remains strong. Despite a number of other studios locally and in the area, The Beat has 250 students. Some dancers take recreational classes in a few styles while others are more serious and audition for the studio’s competitive team. Recent auditions attracted 100 dancers. “Dance is a nice balance between physical activity and the fun of putting on a show and wearing the costumes,” Murphy said. For the youngest they learn basic coordination and “how to take direction from someone other than mom or dad.” She stresses a balance of good technique while having fun, exploring movement working together with their peers, and technique specific to a style. The older dancers work on artistry and, as their schedules get busier, learn to manage their time and see a commitment through. Some dancers participate in their high schools’ dance teams or in theater. “It’s fun, too,” Murphy said. “We’re always having fun in class.” And “for some it becomes their second home, they get really close to their fellow dancers and their teachers,” Murphy said, Her business partner and assistant director Elise Hanson said she likes that they are able to approach teaching dance with a sense of fun, and yet stress technique and discipline. The dancers need to know, she said, that “when you’re…

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