The founder, Mary Ann taught in her studio for 50 years. Although currently retired, Mary Ann reflects on her dance career, Mary Ann told us that Dancing is more than a way of life for her - it's a happiness, a rhythmic spirit that she imparts to all her students and staff. Besides the technique and mastery she commands as a teacher, her intent and purpose is to share her love of dancing. and have all her students experience the joy of moving to music.
Mary Ann is a graduate of Dance Educators of America, Dance Masters of America, a charter member of Professional Dance Teachers Association, and the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists She danced with the Hal Sands Manhattan Rockettes and performed with the Springfield Accordion Orchestra in California (performing in Disneyland), in Hawaii (performing for the Governor), and in New Zealand (performing for the Prime Minister) among other places.
In 1956, Mary Ann opened the Mary Ann Studio of Dance and has been sharing her love of dance through the instruction of generations of dancers and the creation of original dance routines for recitals and shows ever since.
Mary Ann has been teaching dance for a long time. She first opened her Mary Ann Studio of Dance 64 years ago, and now, in some instances, our instructors teach the children of her former students.
Barbara, Courtney, Carrie and Sarah all started learning dance from Mary Ann when they themselves were children. Thirty years later they currently make up her teaching staff.
It's quite obvious that Mary Ann created a philosophy that keeps these kids with her, especially since there are any number of dance schools in the area. She founded two schools, One on Boston Road in Springfield, one on Main Street in Agawam. Both studios teach all forms of dance, from ballet and toe dance to tap and jazz to tumbling and acrobatics to MTV style gyrations. Mary Ann’s is very different from all other facilities. But still has so many of her students taking classes with her after years of a lifelong love of dance. Mary Ann always knew, from the time she was very young, that she wanted to dance. Her own teacher cultivated her talent, and when she was old enough, she started her career in New York, even doing a short-lived stint with the Rockettes. Her plans, however, soon changed.
“Being a professional dancer wasn't my thing”, she declares. Besides having realized how much she would have to give up, such as a family, she adds, I really liked teaching children. That was my main concern.
Mary Ann in 1956 became certified as a teacher, graduating from the Dance Educators of America and then the Dance Masters of America. She subsequently belonged to various organizations for dance teachers before coming to the Springfield area and opening her first studio. Nine years after that, she moved her school to Boston Road and after that opened in Agawam.
She teaches both adults and young children. The teachers at the Mary Ann Studio of Dance are billed as pre-school specialists. Adults catch on more quickly, says Mary Ann. Pre-schoolers have very short attention spans, so class has to be interesting and fun while the kids are still learning Every time I have a new idea, I present it to my students...I guess the classes work, because they enjoy it. To that end, she instituted her trial-and-error program, one that other schools have often imitated.
There are many reasons, she says, that her students start. Some take dance because they enjoy moving to the music, or they think of it as a form of expression. Some of the adults learn in order to keep their bodies in a more fluid condition. And some just think it's fun.
Yet it seems that these people have a common reason for staying with Mary Ann. She and her staff expend a great amount of time and energy in cultivating the talent of their pupils. Her philosophy is still being applied in our studio today.She explains that, I was always concerned about my students. I took the utmost interest in their development and their creative progress. I was dedicated. Mary Ann goes on to say, so are the other teachers in her school. They're really in tune with the students. They have a great rapport with the kids.
As in Mary Ann’s experience, this interest in their development has turned many to professional dancing. Some former students are now performing in New York, Las Vegas and Orlando. Others are part of the theatrical performances on luxury liners. For others, their secondary educations have been paid for through dance scholarships.And there are even those who have their own studios. Mary Ann hopes her students learning keeps being passed down through the generations.
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