Help Us Build Dreams Through Dance!

Sabrina Schmitt
Expressions Dance Studio
Hawkeye, IA
Expressions Dance Studio teaches kids from preschool to high school studio dance techniques. We specialize in Creative Movement, Ballet,Pointe, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Acro, Musical Theatre and Stretching/Flexibility. We have several locations in Iowa: Cresco, Decorah, West Union and Fredericksburg.
Expressions Dance Studio is in session with regular classes from August to May. In each class, dancers learn technique from August to December. From January until May dancers are practicing choreography that is solely written by Expressions Dance Studio teachers. Throughout the year, including the entire summer, students are given the opportunity to compete in and showcase their dance abilities in events both statewide and nationwide.
Expressions bills parents for students' dance lessons every nine weeks. Students do not pay during the summer months when they are competing. Currently all summer prepwork (choreography and time spent teaching) are free of charge. Each time payment is due during the regular studio year, parents are allowed into the studio to see their student's progress and what they have been learning. Discounts are offered to families with more than one student, and also for dancers taking multiple classes.
Expressions Dance Studio is unique to the area we live in because the Fine Arts are rare here. School arts programs are struggling with cutbacks, so we offer a creative outlet for many young people. Every class is taught original choreography, written by Expressions Dance Studio teachers, to be performed at a recital in May of each year. Our more advanced pointe dancers are also sometimes offered opportunities to perform excerpts from classical ballets, such as Swan Lake, during the recitals. Expressions is a full-fledged studio like no other in the area. In addition to the regular dance instructors students learn from on a weekly basis, we bring in other dance professionals throughout the year to teach the kids new skills. We have collaborated with Rivers Ballet in the Twin Cities, Desmond Walker, owner of DW Choreography, a dance studio and production company, Valery Lantrotov, a former principal dancer with the Moscow Stanislavsky and Kremlin Ballets, as well as a guest dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, and Candace Michelle Franklin of the Joffrey Ballet. Working with Ms. Franklin even led to one of our dancers auditioning for and being accepted into the Joffrey's Summer Intensive Program.
In the last few years, we have started taking dancers to the Jump! Dance Convention in the Twin Cities. This is a nationwide program offering classes, competition and scholarships to other dance events. Since we have started participating in Jump! we have had two students rewarded with scholarships to the Dancerpalooza dance convention in Long Beach, California.
In addition to being rewarded with scholarships, our students are rewarded with the experience of meeting dancers from all over the country--this includes dance professionals and other dance students.
As you can probably imagine, teachers, students and their families spend a lot of time and money to participate in these competitions. There are often registration fees for these events, followed by costume costs, buying dance shoes, and travelling to the events. For some dance families, these competitions are simply out of reach budget wise. This past December, Expressions Dance Studio teachers sponsored a student's participation in Jump! when she otherwise wouldn't have been able to go. Unfortunately, her father is suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer and the family has many medical expenses. The teachers all agreed that she deserved the opportunity to attend and for both of her parents to see her participate in the event.
From this experience, we have realized our next goal for the future: A not-for-profit extension of Expressions for competition opportunities. With the money from Dream Big Grow Here, we can start a fund for students to be able to compete and go to dance events that they otherwise might not be able to attend.
For many dancers, this will be a way to have them achieve their dreams and jump-start a career in dance. Not only are these competitions and events an amazing opportunity for them now, they can be a huge stepping stone for their future.

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