Victoria Armstrong and Michelle Hurd have both spent the majority of their lives dancing and teaching others how to.
They’ve brought their enthusiasm and knowledge of dance to their own Elite Dance Center at the corner of Legion and Black and Decker Roads in Hope Mills.
Hurd, 45, was a dancer and teacher first, training her daughter Armstrong, 27, and transferring her love for dance to her daughter.
At Elite Dance, the teaching subjects are all children, no adults, ranging in age from 2 to 18. Armstrong said the dance center’s first goal is to give the youngsters a love for dance because often it’s the idea of a parent to enroll children in dance as an activity.
“Our first priority is to teach them to love the art form,’’ Armstrong said. “We have to pique their interest, and we’re going to try and do some learning along the way.’’
There’s a major difference in teaching children about something like dance versus sharing the fundamentals and rules of other youth activities like soccer, football or baseball, Armstrong said. Yes, there are disciplines to be learned in dance, she said, but the children also need to be taught to explore what dance is all about.
“There are rules to sports,’’ she said. “This is a little more creative. We have to open their eyes to feel comfortable to do things like that.’’
Armstrong said it’s not her mission to dismiss other sports and try to convince parents and children that dance is better. At the same time, she said, dance has a lot of things to offer.
“It is a physical activity and it’s something I feel anybody can do,’’ she said. “We have children with special needs, physical and mental limitations, and dance is for them.’’
Armstrong also made the point that dance transcends race, age, physical or mental ability along with being easily accessible. “On different levels, it can be taught to anyone,’’ she said. “It’s important from a positivity aspect. It’s learning to embrace and use your body for different things, artistic purposes.’’
It’s also an important learning experience for the younger dancers, ages 2 and 3, who may not have experienced time away from their parents in a social situation with other children. “They come here and be away from mom a little,’’ Armstrong said. “It’s a great time to meet children of their own age and develop their own social skills. I can’t say enough about it.’’
Armstrong is convinced her dance experience as a child helped her develop a great sense of community and team building. “I did recreational dance but I also did competitive dance,’’ Armstrong said. “I was able to learn those valuable team lessons.’’
Dancers at Elite learn a variety of styles, including ballet, tap, jazz, tumbling and hip hop, to name a few.
They also participate in two different styles of presentation: competition and performance.
In competition dancing, teams pay an entry fee to compete in contests against other studios where they are judged and prizes are awarded.
“We bring home trophies just like you would with any sport,’’ Armstrong said.
There is also a performance aspect of the training. This comes at end-of-year dance recitals. A select group of studio dancers makes public appearances. Elite dancers served as the official Heart of Christmas Show dancers, performing publicly while patrons paid to see them dance.
From a cost perspective, Armstrong said, dance is cheaper than some activities. The base price at Elite is $48 a month for four to five classes. There is a discount for boys who sign up because they are not frequent participants in dance for youngsters. Armstrong said if someone has a child they’d like to sign up, she prefers they come to the studio for a visit. “I like human interaction, especially when discussing what’s best for your child,’’ she said. “I kind of get a feel for them and help them look over our schedule.’’
The classes for dance are broken down both by age group and dance styles, Armstrong said.
Armstrong said they are pleased with the location because they get a lot of what she called “curb visibility” from passing vehicles. She said many people who wait in line at the drive-thru of a neighboring fast food restaurant call after seeing the studio’s number on the wall of the building.
“We’re going into our sixth year and it feels like the right place to be,’’ she said.
You can find Elite on Facebook by searching Elite Dance Center or on the web at www.elitedancecenternc.com. The phone number is 910-425-3524.