On June 14, dancers of Urbana Dance and their friends and family gathered in the Urbana High School auditorium for an annual recital. This year’s event marked the 10-year anniversary Urbana Dance.
Urbana Dance co-owner Sonja Davis was excited about the dance school’s anniversary, and reflective about its growth.
Before founding the program, Davis worked in sales and marketing during the day, and taught dance – her passion — in the evenings. “Once I started I could not stop,” she said. So, in 2004, when Davis had several girls who wanted her to teach them dance, she agreed. With numerous years of dance and regional and national awards already under her belt, she rented out space at the Landon House and started the first dance studio of Urbana.
Beginning with 15 to 20 dancers, Davis ended her first year with 60 students. With a dance program that was growing unexpectedly, Davis had many goals for the program, but mostly, she said, she wanted to “share my passion.” She also wanted have a studio that would be well rounded.
Urbana Dance has seen many changes over the years. After outgrowing Landon House, the studio moved to a shopping center off Route 355. With more space and an increasing number of dancers, more programs were added and more teachers were hired.
Many students study at Urbana Dance for years: Emily Yi has been there for the past nine years and is a part of the dance team. She takes all types of dance offered, including gymnastics, and has fun with each style. Nicole Navarro has danced for 12 years and has been with Urbana Dance since the beginning. She also trains in every style and is a part of the dance team. She especially loves the progress she makes. “There is always room for improvement,” said Navarro.
Throughout the past 35 weeks, dancers of Urbana Dance rehearsed numerous dances to showcase at the anniversary recital, including throw-back dances that use parts of past performances and previously used music. Performances were divided into two parts: a 10 a.m. recital with dancers ages 7 and younger, and a 3 p.m. show with dancers 8 years old and up. Dance team performances opened the show. Music included the popular song “Let it Go” by Selena Gomez.
Towards the end of both recitals, graduating senior Sarah Bluestein performed a solo; she dedicated the performance to her parents, who have been by her brother’s side as he battles leukemia. Bluestein’s solo and Davis’ words of encouragement left very few dry eyes in the auditorium.
A post-performance party wrapped up the celebration.
Davis hopes to see Urbana Dance continue to grow and develop in the upcoming years. She wants to further the big sister-little sister program she has created with the dancers. Also in the near future an all boys program, a hip hop crew and a ballet repertoire will be a part of Urbana Dance.
“I can’t believe where we are because of where we started off,” said Davis as she looked back at the 10 years of Urbana Dance.
Editor’s Note: Morgan McGrady is a rising senior at Urbana High School. McGrady lives in the Urbana Highlands, is involved at Mountain View Community Church as a student leader and is passionate about reporting on community topics.