Co-owner/director, Motion N’ Dance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
NOMINATED BY: Jessica Gibson, co-owner and daughter: “My mother and I have been working together for seven years. She was given the chance to buy an existing studio whose owner had only 57 dancers left. My mother made the decision to rebuild and open Motion N’ Dance. We built the studio around the belief that there is more to dance than competitions, trophies, and medals. We provide students with proper dance education and performance opportunities that will help them grow as dancers. My mother has added more than 300 students to the number enrolled when we took over the school.”
YEARS TEACHING: 19
AGES TAUGHT: 3 to 18
GENRES TAUGHT: Ballet, lyrical, and jazz
WHY SHE CHOSE TEACHING DANCE AS A CAREER: It allows me to educate and mentor my students as well as provide a second home to them. I have danced my entire life—it is who I am. Growing up with a learning disability, I found that dance provided me with a purpose. It was the one thing I could do that made me feel confident and secure. I wanted to share my passion for the art, so I chose to teach.
HER GREATEST INSPIRATIONS: My inspiration comes from watching my students grow as dancers and individuals. My husband and family believe in me and allow me to follow my dream. My mother was also an inspiration; she was able to see me realize my dream before she passed away. However, my greatest inspiration is my daughter—with whom I am now able to share my dance life—as I watch her grow into the business.
TEACHING PHILOSOPHY: My philosophy stems from a quote I learned in childhood: “There is no such word as ‘cannot.’ ” I push my students to strive and reach for their own dreams and to understand that if they believe in their dreams, they will come true. Hard work and dedication do pay off!
WHAT MAKES HER A GOOD TEACHER: I constantly educate myself. One is never too old to take a class, read a book, or attend a seminar. More important, I know my students. I know how to fix their weaknesses and use their strengths. Furthermore, I understand that some may need a high five while others may need a hug at the end of class.
FONDEST TEACHING MEMORY: The Christmas performance for the patients of Sacred Heart Home, for cancer patients. I love watching the dancers interact with the patients, as well as the patients trying to dance along. Seeing the smiles on their faces is moving and rewarding. The dancers and I enjoy spending Christmas Eve at the home every year.
ADVICE TO DANCERS AND TEACHERS: To dancers: believe in yourself. To teachers: believe in your dancers.
IF SHE COULDN’T BE A DANCE TEACHER: I would open a home for children and take the time to mentor them.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Dance saved me—it changed my life. I am thankful and blessed for all that I have. Because of dance, I have fight in me to push myself to want more and make things happen. I know to never give up. You will get knocked down, but if you believe in yourself no one can make you feel that you cannot accomplish your dreams.
DO YOU KNOW A DANCE TEACHER WHO DESERVES TO BE IN THE SPOTLIGHT? Email your nominations to Arisa@rheegold.com or mail them to Arisa White, Dance Studio Life, P.O. Box 2150, Norton, MA 02766. Please include why you think this teacher should be featured, along with his or her contact information.