For some reason, lately, almost every day, I have been telling the story of how, my dance studio, Abby Bella Dance came to me. It may have something to do with just passing our 5 year anniversary or the fact that I have been working at the desk more often, spending time talking to dancers while they wait for their classes to begin. When people find out that I don’t have any formal dance background, and that I was a CPA in a former life, they ask, “How did you decide to open a dance studio,”
Let me give a little history. When I was around 9 or 10, my friend’s mother had a dance studio so all the girls in the neighborhood took ballet, tap, and jazz. I loved the classes, the recitals, the costumes and everything that had to do with dance. With 3 other kids in my family and prices for dance classes going up, my dance lessons ended. To fill the gap, the kids in my neighborhood, both boys and girls, danced when we got together to hang out and play.
We learned dances from American Bandstand, Soul Train and anytime we saw Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five on TV. We practiced our moves and then took our moves to the best dances in town, the Catholic school dances. When I was old enough to sneak into dance clubs, I started going and dancing. I went NAU for college and took ballet again for a few semesters. And when I was not at the library studying (haha, who am I kidding) I went out dancing almost every night of the week to the few disco clubs in Flagstaff. When given the choice to study or dance, dancing usually won. Before I finished my degree, I got married and soon after I graduated, had two children and dancing stopped.
One night, I was with my family at a drive-in movie theater. I don’t remember which family movie we were watching, but I looked over at another screen and saw Patrick Swayze practically jumping off the screen. I couldn’t take my eyes off that screen and the next day, with my two year old daughter on my lap, found Dirty Dancing at the Valley Art Theater on Mill Avenue. I fell in love right there in the dark theater, imagining that I was up there dancing with all the kids at Kellerman’s. When I was recovering from a breast biopsy a few years later, my friend, Teresa brought me the Dirty Dancing video and I watched it so often that I wore it out. I also still watch it every time it is on TV, I just couldn’t get enough of the dancing in that movie. I watch almost every dance movie that comes out, but nothing has ever compared to my favorite. In 2000, I discovered marathons.
I started racewalking marathons to Latin, old school R&B and disco music. I also had the Dirty Dancing soundtrack that I listened to during training and the races. I had found my dance substitute, but it was still just a substitute. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I longed to dance. In August 2007, I had a hysterectomy. My surgery was scheduled late in the day and I couldn’t eat, drink coffee, or take my medication all day. By the time I got into pre-op I was so cranky and on edge, I put in my earphones and watched (you guessed it)
Dirty Dancing on my iPod. The next thing I knew, I was waking up and in severe pain. I asked for pain meds and something to sleep. After the morphine and the sleep meds, (which had the opposite effect, so I was drugged and wide awake) this idea just popped into my head: I was going to open a dance studio! The studio would have ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop – the classes taught in children’s studios, but mine would be only for adults. I could see it as clear as day, I knew this is what I had to do. Oprah Winfrey’s voice was also in my head saying that there are ideas out there and if you don’t take them, someone else will, so I ran with it. Less than a year later, Abby Bella Dance Studio was born.