Over thirty years ago, I took my first dance class in what was then called “Black Canyon Athletic Club,” now Raw Iron Gym, in Emmett, Idaho. I was nervous, shy, and completely unprepared. We used chairs as a barre, and I wondered why we didn’t dance on our toes the first class. Dance eventually left Emmett, and my mom began transporting me over the hill. It became my passion.
After a period of time, I started to dance at Ballet Idaho. I remember auditioning for the Nutcracker, I had outgrown my used ballet shoes, and we couldn’t afford a new pair. I wore socks to tryout. I felt inadequate and out of place, but nonetheless, I auditioned, and out of 80 dancers, I got the part. My mom went and bought me my first pair of “new” ballet shoes that very day.
I eventually began training under the late ballet master Eric Coffman. I was terrified of him at first. He seemed so disciplined and strict. However, a great respect and love grew for my instructor. At the age of 15, Eric won a Ford Foundation Scholarship to the San Francisco Ballet and began dancing with that company the following year. Eric gave me a scholarship to his studio when I couldn’t afford to keep dancing. I started teaching classes for him and helped him design his logo for his new studio which is now Backstage Dance Studio in Meridian. Eric passed away in 2008, and the studio remains his legacy to the Treasure Valley. I owe so much to this great man, and I dearly miss him.
When I was a junior in high school, I decided that Emmett really needed dance again. I knew that there were so many children that were missing out. I went to the Gem County Recreation Center and offered to teach classes. I called my program, “Dance Steps”. I installed the barres (they are still there), advertised with flyers and started teaching ballet and jazz. I had just over 15 students my first year. When I left for college, I knew I wanted to pursue teaching in some way. After college, getting married, and having a baby, I moved to Boise and started teaching dance in Emmett again. I named my studio, “Lake Dance Steps”. I taught up on the bench, sharing a studio with the Gem Cloggers. My first year I had 35 dancers. This year Lake Dance Steps is celebrating its 20th season in Gem County. Enrollment last year was 130 dancers.
In order to continue this service, I have decided to build a dance studio. It is currently under construction. We are excited to continue our program in this new state of the art facility. We teach all ages of children from beginner to advanced. We have a competitive dance team instructed by one of my former dancers, Marianne Corn. We have won national titles. We are a small-town dance studio, but we compete and take first place against the bigger dance studios. Having a dance studio in Emmett has been a huge benefit to hundreds of local youth.
I have personally witnessed how life changing it has been for children that need an extracurricular activity to build discipline, body physicality, self-esteem, and talent. We have provided and helped troubled youth who need a safe and positive space away from home. We perform at community events such as the Cherry Festival, Harvest Festival, church events, etc. My dance journey began in Emmett, and I’m grateful that it has continued. Everyone deserves the opportunity to dance. I take great pride in our program and for great mentors of the past like Eric Coffman. So, as we celebrate our 20th season, we say thank you to Gem County and to all of the dancers, past and present. For more info on classes/program: www.lakedancesteps.com.