Twist and Shout Dance and Cheer studio continues building character, providing fun

Madison Ade joined Twist and Shout Dance and Cheer's studio shortly after it opened, and now, 10 years later, she's not looking back.

The 13-year-old is enrolled in a Jazz 3 class and also enjoys dancing along to hip-hop music as well as performing musical theater.

"I really just enjoy dancing in general," Ade said. "It's relaxing and fun."

The hardest part?

"Getting it right," she said. "You have to think about every step as it goes along, and if you mess up a little bit, you can't show it."

In each rundown, Ade works on her facial expressions in preparation to win the hearts of the crowd.

"If you have a bland face, people are going to get bored," she said.

If there's one thing she's learned throughout her time at the Mahomet dance studio, it's that "you can't fake it" and that you have to keep your feet moving.

"It's never a dull moment," she said. "You can't just attempt it. You have to actually learn how to do it. You can't take shortcuts."

Nine-year-old Aubrey Watson said she's been dancing since she was 5.

"My sister was doing it since she was really little, and then I thought I'd try it, and I really liked it," Watson said.

Watson's in the Jazz 1 class, where she enjoys learning new moves each week.

"I like them all," she said.

Fellow classmate Isabelle Bohn, 10, also enjoys learning the different maneuvers.

"I like doing the moves and practicing them and trying to remember them," she said.

"I've been doing tumbling since I was like 4 because my mother really wanted to learn to cartwheel and to round off because she could never do it," she added. "Then I started ballet because I really wanted to do it and then I started tap and lyrical and now I'm in jazz."

Many of the performers work on different dances each week that will prepare them for their recital each June at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign.

"When you get on stage, it's kind of scary, but then you get used to it," Riley Walters, 12, said.

Ten-year-old Addy Reigart has been performing with the studio for the last six years, and each time she takes the stage, she's comforted by how much she and the other performers have put into their routine.

"Just how we work hard," she said. "That made me lose my stage fright."

And after the recital?

"It's sweaty, hot, tiring and fun," Madelyn Brian joked.

All kidding aside, the 11-year-old finds the annual recital rewarding and just plain fun.

Her favorite memory?

"Accomplishing my splits," she added.

For Lacie Bushman, she keeps coming back week after week purely based on the friends she's made at the studio and the positive efforts of her coaches.

"I just like being with my friends and performing," she said.

The 11-year-old said she began at the studio when she was 1, and she just kept coming back.

Her advice for anyone sitting on the fence about dance is just to give it a try.

"Even if you don't like it at first, just keep doing it," she said. "I didn't really like it at first, and I kept doing it, and now I really like it."

Kylie Schutte of Mahomet teaches the Pre-Tumbling (ages 3-5) and Tumbling Turtles (18 months to 3 years old) classes and even assists with all-stars cheer. The 2013 Mahomet-Seymour grad has been helping out at the studio since she was a teen.

"It's a very small-town community thing. I think that's what makes it so special," she said. "Everyone is like family here."

Each year, Schutte continues to see her classes and the studio grow.

"I think it's really cool," she said. "Kids I met in Turtles who are now in tumbling 3-4, I'm seeing them all grown up and it's really cool."

Jazz 1 instructor Margaret Miller is also familiar with the full-circle experience at the studio. Miller has been with Twist and Shout Dance and Cheer since its inception. She got her start while studying at Parkland College and eventually the University of Illinois. Miller became a third-grade teacher at Lincoln Trail Elementary School and is the former dance coach for Mahomet-Seymour High School. But now she's returned to her roots.

"It's really cool to see it (Twist and Shout Dance and Cheer) progress and watch it grow," she said. "It's amazing."

Over the years, Miller has experienced having students who she taught dance be in her classroom or even on her former high school dance team. Now she even teaches the Jazz 1 class with former student Malea Misenheimer, who is a sophomore at Parkland.

"I've had a lot of full-circle experiences and all of them have been wonderful," she said. "This is my happy place."

Fellow instructor Jessi Wattles of Seymour is in her fifth year at the studio. Wattles began dancing at the age of 5 and always enjoyed being on the stage. As she got older, she became self-motivated and really began to push herself. But more than anything, Wattles hopes to instill a solid learning environment at the 305 W. Oak St. studio.

"I want them to never be afraid of being themselves," she said.

The biggest thing Wattles teaches her girls is confidence.

"Even if it's just in their face," she said. "We don't want kids looking at the ground. We want them feeling comfortable."

This was a large problem for many of the dancers when Wattles started.

"They'd look around on stage," she said. "You can be the best dancer in the world, but if you don't look at the audience, no one is going to pay attention to you."

If the performers take away anything from their brief time with Wattles, she hopes it's confidence in themselves.

Ten years ago, owner Stephanie Denby had a rather large ambition to create a dance studio for her daughters, Chandler and Parker Denby, and the community. A decade later, she services more than 400 performers each year.

"We started in a one-room studio space our first year thinking we'd have fewer than 100 kids, and we had 150 sign up for classes," she said. "We went from that rented space to the old grocery out on Prairieview Road, where we were in one big room holding multiple classes, which was a hot mess," she joked. "You couldn't keep the attention of little ones. While we were there, we were planning and building our current facility."

The Oak Street studio has three studio spaces and one large gym. Classes are available from 18 months to 18 years old, and the studio has even offered a few adult classes every now and again.

Her favorite part?

"Seeing the kids' smiles," she said.

That and watching the annual recital come together.

As for the future, Denby hopes to continue growing the program and maintaining a steady flow of participants.

"I hope that they would know that I always make it a family-type atmosphere," she said. "It's a gathering place for a lot of kids and it keeps them busy."

Comments

The Mahomet Citizen embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. we reserve the right to remove any comment at its discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments