Dance studio

Tazewell welcomes the city’s first dance studio | Lifestyles

TAZEWELL, Va. — From the moment she walked into a dance studio at just six years old, Emily Hinkle knew she had found her passion.

“I think when I was younger I really loved learning about the different ways to move around,” Hinkle said. “As I grew up and learned more and more, I found that it was a good way to express myself because when I was younger I had a really hard time expressing myself verbally. Dance m really helped express myself.

Today, Hinkle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Radford University and in 2019 she won a 2019/2020 Young Adult Miss Ultimate Stars National Dance title. Her reign as Young Adult Miss Ultimate Stars has been extended to 2020/2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I started college at Southwest Virginia Community College and earned my associate’s degree in general education from there,” Hinkle said. “When I went to Radford the only classes I had to take were Spanish lessons and dance lessons. I took four years of dance classes in just four semesters at Radford. Looking back, I don’t think I would have chosen to do otherwise because I could do what I loved while I was there.

After finishing school, Hinkle knew it was time to pursue another lifelong dream: bringing a dance studio to Tazewell.

“It’s super exciting because for years everybody, if they wanted to take dance lessons, they either had to go to Lebanon or Bluefield or Princeton, and for some people it’s just not not possible,” Hinkle said. “I’m really grateful to have been able to bring something here for the children. We have programs where they can play baseball, football or cheerleading, but for me at that age I wasn’t interested in any of that, I just wanted to dance. I’m sure there are other kids like that.

The lack of a dance studio in Tazewell prompted Hinkle, of Cedar Bluff, to open the Tazewell Dance Center LLC in the Four-Way Shopping Center in North Tazewell. The dance center recently received a $9,000 matching grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA).

From classical ballet, jazz and hip-hop to tap, modern, lyrical and contemporary, pointe, improvisation, pom and tumbling, the studio has something to offer students of all ages – children and adults. Classes are also offered in yoga and UltraBarre.

“I actually opened in August 2019. From there I applied for the grant and worked with the South West Program to put my business plan in place so we could get through it all. This grant has definitely helped tremendously,” Hinkle said. “Now I’ve opened a third storefront, here in the mall, and I’m opening a dancewear store.”

“Helping entrepreneurs create jobs in the region is a primary goal of VCEDA’s Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund,” said Jonathan Belcher, Executive Director/General Counsel of VCEDA. “Often the assistance provided through seed funding can make a real difference in starting and starting a business. The Tazewell Dance Center LLC projects one full-time and one part-time employee.

Hinkle said the response from her community has been overwhelming. She has set a goal of enrolling 25 students by the end of her freshman year. She ended up with 125 students at the end of the year.

“I’m the only instructor, but we’re working on a part-time hire. I also work at a college during the day, I’m a development assistant at Tazewell Middle School,” Hinkle said. “I wish I could do this full time. Maybe even have classes during the day for the younger ones. I know parents who have younger kids, I’m sure they would love to have an activity to do with them. the younger ones, maybe while their older ones are in school, so they can still be home with the older ones when they come home.We would integrate the parent into those classes as well.

Hinkle said her experience and upbringing in the school system helped her learn how to manage a classroom and help students learn in their own way.

“It taught me how to handle different situations in a classroom setting, which of course would fall into a dance class setting,” Hinkle said. “It gave me some ideas of how different kids learn in different ways and different ways I could help them learn. We have a few kids here who don’t have severe social needs, but they do have ADHD or autism, so they definitely learn differently than some other kids, so working in college has also helped a lot in being able to adjust the way I teach to help my students learn better.

While expansion and growth are always high on a new business owner’s priority list, Hinkle’s favorite part of her business is the smiles on her students’ faces.

“I love seeing them having fun because you can definitely tell if they’re enjoying it and it shows through their dancing and you can also see it on their faces while they’re here,” Hinkle said.

While COVID-19 has caused some changes to how the studio operates, Hinkle said, it has remained open. Disinfection is complete between classes; student temperatures are taken and every possible precaution is taken.

In addition to teaching classes, Hinkle has also opened a retail store in her storefront, which sells dancewear including leotards, tights, and dance shoes, but with the seed capital funds, she said she hopes to expand the items offered in the store even further. .

“We plan to use the funding to purchase inventory for the boutique and more equipment for our dance and tumbling classes,” Hinkle said. “Accessories, rugs, wearable flooring and more, we will use the funds. It really helped.

Hinkle worked with the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College on the development of Tazewell Dance Center LLC’s business plan and application to VCEDA. The Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority wrote a letter of support for the project.

— Contact Emily Rice at [email protected]