Owner/director, Smooth Steps Dance & Gymnastics, Swartz Creek, MI
NOMINATED BY: Amé Sands, student’s parent: “Alison is all about the students. She takes the time to develop her students’ strengths and push them to work on their weaknesses. Alison has not met a student that she cannot teach. Students thrive under her direction and look to her for guidance. Alison took over the family business and has grown the program into a well-respected and sought-after studio. Although a businesswoman, she has never lost sight of why she started teaching.”
AGES TAUGHT: 3 to adult.
GENRES TAUGHT: Tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, pointe, lyrical, clogging, acro/gymnastics, poms.
TEACHING DANCE FOR: 26 years.
WHY SHE TEACHES: I was pretty much born into it. My mother opened the dance studio when she was 14 and her mother was the seamstress. I have been in the dance studio since the day I was born. I remember teaching myself how to tie my shoes at the age of 3 so I could put my own tap shoes on.
GREATEST INSPIRATION: My parents inspire me. I grew up watching them run the studio. It has been family owned for 52 years. I would watch them come together and put on these extravagant spring recitals. It has always been important to my mother to showcase the students and make them feel like they had just performed in a Broadway show. It’s an ambition she has passed on to me. It is also very inspirational to me to see my mother still teaching and how much love she still has for it. It amazes me that she can still tap like she probably did at 14.
PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING: If you give 110 percent to each and every student, that’s pure satisfaction from knowing you have done everything in your heart to help your students realize their fullest potential.
WHAT MAKES HER A GOOD TEACHER: I never like to see a student without a challenge, and I love seeing how proud they are when they realize they are capable of going that next step further. I never hold students back from entering into a more advanced class, regardless of their age.
FONDEST TEACHING MEMORY: It was probably the 50th-anniversary show, “Best of the Best.” I was amazed and proud to see all the generations of dancers that have gone through our doors. The most memorable dance we have done is “The Riverdance.” We make a huge production with it, including advanced tap, lyrical, and gymnastics students. It was so successful the first time we did it that we now revive it every three or four years. It was exciting to do it at the 50th-anniversary show, with so many of our former “Riverdance” performers and teachers in it.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR STUDENTS AND/OR TEACHERS: I feel that giving 110 percent is all the satisfaction you need to succeed, along with continuing your dance education and keeping up with the latest moves through workshops, conventions, and research.
WHAT SHE WOULD DO IF SHE COULDN’T TEACH DANCE: I love photography. I think that would be challenging.
MORE THOUGHTS ON DANCE AND TEACHING: I would like to thank everyone who allows me the privilege of passing my knowledge of dance on to them and allowing me to bring out their best. Thank you to all my teachers, students, staff members, and parents for believing in me. Also, thanks and love go out to my husband and two sons for their continued support.
DO YOU KNOW A DANCE TEACHER WHO DESERVES TO BE IN THE SPOTLIGHT? Email your nominations to David@rheegold.com or mail them to David Favrot, Dance Studio Life, 10 South Washington St., Norton, MA 02766. Please include why you think this teacher should be featured, along with his or her contact information.