SALISBURY — A global pandemic isn’t usually when people decide to start a business, but don’t tell Spencer Ann Brown and Kristie Thomas.
After floating around the idea of opening a dance studio for several years, the two primary school teachers got the push they needed to open Salisbury Dance Academy when COVID-19 created free time in their schedule.
“If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, we really wouldn’t have had time to do this and be teachers at the same time,” Brown said.
Once they decided it was time to turn their idea into reality, Brown and Thomas worked to locate the space that would house their new studio. As soon as they entered the vacant building at 204 South Main St. in Salisbury, they knew they had found it.
“We looked at two or three places, but honestly it’s like a home – when you know, you know,” Thomas said. “We walked in and we knew.”
Wallace Realty remodeled the space before putting it on the market, but Brown and Thomas still had work to do to turn it into their ideal dance studio. The couple, along with their families and friends, spent countless hours perfecting the studio over the summer. In addition to painting the walls, they built a brand new wall at the front of the building to separate the studio from the lobby.
“We really got here in April and were here almost every day once we started for eight to 10 hours a day and didn’t finish until early June,” Brown said.
When they started offering a summer dance camp in early June, there was no shortage of clients. Brown and Thomas have been part of Rowan County’s dance community for decades. Before deciding to open the Salisbury Dance Academy, they worked as dance teachers at the Steppin’ Out Dance Company. Many of the same dancers they taught at Steppin’ Out followed them into their new venture. Having an already strong customer base was key to their early success.
Health guidelines prevented Brown and Thomas from accepting as many students as they would like. They had to limit the size of each class to ensure that social distancing could be practiced during dance lessons. Brown and Thomas also split students into multiple classes to keep overall class sizes low. The couple hope to hire more students when conditions allow.
“Of course we want to grow, but I would much rather wait until phase three and until people are more comfortable,” Thomas said. “A lot of our people that we know are coming back are really looking forward to that and that’s fine with us.”
The Salisbury Dance Academy offers a variety of classes including tap, ballet and hip hop to different age groups. They have three instructors on staff, including Sierra Thomas, who specializes in tap dancing, Devin Leech, who teaches hip hop, and Tara Wood, who specializes in tumbling and gymnastics.
Since Brown and Thomas teach in the Rowan Salisbury school system, they teach at the studio after school ends. They even teach dance to some of the same students they teach in school.
“We both have such a passion for teaching kids in general,” Brown said. “We really like learning how to teach and then coming and being around the kids here too.”
For more information about Salisbury Dance Academy, visit salisburydanceacademync.com or email [email protected]