Dance studio celebrates 20th
Friday, May 19, 2006 3:13 PM CDT
Special to the E-E
What do you get when you combine traditional dance technique with innovative ideas? You get the dynamic recipe that’s made Art of Motion a two decade dance success.
Their 20th anniversary celebration will begin at 7 p.m. May 27 at the Bartlesville Community Center. “Art of Motion Celebrates Sweet Success!” includes ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical pieces choreographed by some of the dance industries leaders.
Founded in 1986, Art of Motion Dance is committed to providing a well-rounded dance education rooted in proper technique and terminology, according to Shelly Beech, owner/artistic director.
Originally, classes were held at the YWCA under the direction of Kaye Boone Baehr, who later moved the business into a vacated studio on Nowata Road. In 1991 Baehr hired Beech to manage and instruct at what was then Kaye’s School of Dance. The transition of ownership was so smooth, few realized it had happened until the 1994 production announced, “Art of Motion, A Picture Paints a Thousand Words.” Since then, the studio has continued to grow and prosper.
“In 1998 we outgrew our Nowata Road location. While searching for another suitable ‘home,’ it occurred to us that being Bartlesville’s leading dance educator, we needed to build,” says Beech. “Our students deserve a space designed specifically with their safety and comfort in mind. The contractors and designers were called and we are now the proud owners of a state of the art dance facility.
“We have two studios with sprung floors and professional dance surfaces. Full length mirrors across the front of classrooms allow dancers to check placement, additional mirrors above the ballet barres lets students ‘see’ behind them,” she says. “Observation windows are our parents favorite way to monitor dancer’s progress. The studio’s location is convenient to Hoover, Ranch Heights, Wayside, Madison and the Mid-High.”
Born in Enid, and raised in the Midwest, Beech’s training benefited from studying with many extraordinary dance instructors. At three, her first teacher was, Texie Jane Waterman who choreographed for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders in Dallas, Texas. When her family moved back to Enid, Beech studied with her mother’s dance teacher, Elizabeth Shelley Williams. It proved to be five of her most impressionable years. Williams nurtured a love of dance and imprinted a successful style of teaching that Beech still uses today.
“I am the sum of many parts,” Beech says. “I studied with Bessie Caldwell, Della Riggs-Warren, Judy Mason-Henninger and Valentina Stein. Each teacher had her own strengths, be it music theatre, modern, even the classical training of Checetti. I took the best each had to give – never realizing someday I’d be passing it on to my own students.”
Beech was awarded dance scholarships to attend Oklahoma City University and the University of Oklahoma but chose to attend OU so she could also accept an art scholarship and pursue a double major in ballet and art. As fate would have it, Beech transferred to Oklahoma State University her sophomore year and graduated with her BFA in 1998.
After graduation she interned and later became the first female printer employed by Universal Limited Art Editions in New York City. While working on Manhattan’s art scene, Beech taught tap classes at Positions Dance Studio on Long Island with former Radio City Rockette Angela Mezzacappa.
“I’ve always loved the visual and performing arts. The name of my business reflects my love of both,” says Beech. “What is dance? It’s the ‘art of motion.’ Anyone entering the studio will immediately feel like they’ve entered a gallery. Oil paintings, collectable prints, New York dance posters decorate the walls along with photos of current and past students. My college diploma has a place of honor outside the office where all my students can see it. Numerous awards and certificates of merit are also displayed with pride.”
Beech says dancers learn young that with perseverance you succeed.
“Preschoolers learn their first day at the studio ‘can’t’ is not a word anyone is allowed to use,” she says. “‘I’ll try’ is the phrase of the day.”
Older students repeatedly hear that college degrees are worth the effort.
“We don’t talk about ‘if’ they go to college but ‘when’ they go to college,” says Beech. “Women can own their own business, have successful careers and raise a family. It’s all in the balance. Knowledge is power.”
In 1996 the studio worked with the Bartlesville Jaycees to produce a city-wide ballet workshop with the profits donated to Women and Children in Crisis.
Later that same year Art of Motion Dancers performed in the Downtown Kiwanis Club Entertainment Extravaganza to help the club raise money.
Art of Motion students and parents are frequently given literature from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This is Beech’s grassroots effort to educate and protect Bartlesville’s youth.
Most recently, the studio gathered dance supplies and sent them to a Biloxi, Miss., studio after Hurricane Katrina.
“In a world where good role models are hard to come by, I was lucky enough to work with outstanding women – impeccable ladies I wanted to pattern myself after. They shared much more than a love of dance. I learned life lessons that reached further than the four walls of a dance studio. I learned about strength, commitment and how a lady should always carry herself with pride and dignity,” she says. “My instructors’ professional and personal conduct influenced my own life choices. I want to make the same positive impact on my students. Teaching by example, I hope to influence generations of Bartlesville’s dancers.”
This year’s celebratory performance is sprinkled with sweet messages. From Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams” performed by the studio’s assistants to George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” the concert highlights the dynamic mixture of dance styles Art of Motion is known for. The audience will enjoy traditional and contemporary choreography performed to a wide variety of musical choices. A pointe number, “Nothing Says Success Like a Right Hand Ring” features Beech’s innovative choreography and, of course, the dancers wearing the appropriate “right hand ring.”
There is only one solo, which will be performed by Dewey High School senior, Kirby Woodward. This will also be Bartlesville High School senior Lauren Smith’s finale performance with Art of Motion.
“We want to congratulate our graduating seniors and wish them the best as they pursue their collegiate careers,” says Beech.
The grand finale promises to be the cherry on top of an evening of sweet deserts: A combined production number highlighting Lyn Cramer’s original choreography from Texas Association Teachers of Dance 2005 Gala Performance, “Raise the Roof and Celebrate 20 Years of Success!”
The community is invited to come see this milestone performance. Tickets are available at the Bartlesville Community Center Box Office or by calling 336-2787. For more information about the 20th anniversary or programs offered at Art of Motion Dance call 333-3412.