By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
I first interviewed Kelly Nave, founder of Kelly’s Studio of Dance, almost seven years ago to the day, and I remember how impressed I was with the fact that she was about way more than teaching precise dance technique to her students. She wanted to “grow more than dancers,” and that desire has only increased over the years. We had a rare chance to chat at length as her “kiddos” were participating in the 2018 KSD Dance Camp. When Kelly was growing up in the local dance community, they had dance camps, but she looked at me with a smile and said, “They were nothing like this. We told our parents that their kids would tell them that this is the best week of the summer!” Every year the summer camps have a theme, and this year’s was based on the award-winning film, The Greatest Showman. Kelly called it The Greatest Camp. Every day they changed the focus slightly, and when we did our interview, the little ones were getting a chance to take supervised horseback rides in their tutus. They also did crafts, had lunch, danced, did tumbling, and played games; it has been so popular that this year they have run two camps.
Because it has always been Miss Kelly’s vision to teach her girls to live life well, she has a bible study group for her 8 to 11-year-olds, as well as the older girls. She calls the group “Godly Girls,” and for the third year, Kelly’s Studio of Dance (KSD) was involved in the recent Serve Day, held on July 14. Serve Day is a global, once-a-year opportunity for churches and individuals to get involved in various community service “give-back” projects. The KSD girls and participating adults went to the Haven, a community service center that focuses on tutoring and is located in North Athens. “They cleaned, set up for Vacation Bible School, and played games with the kids in the neighborhood. We served food, and just hung with the kids and their parents. It was a great day,” Kelly said.
So, let’s talk about the “dance” in Kelly’s Studio of Dance. KSD is a multiple award-winning studio, and earlier this year during competition season, they took an award for jazz choreography and contemporary choreography. They were also named the Top Dance Studio in the area competition held in Birmingham. Kelly knows that her job is “to make your kids look the best they can.” That means a lot of practice, and having experienced teachers who are passionate about what they do, and committed to their girls and the school. “We invest in, mold, and nurture young people,” Kelly said, “and we always see the beauty in each dancer.”
From July 21 through the 25, Kelly Studio of Dance will have what they call their Summer Intensive. Instructors from New York and Los Angeles are being brought in to level up the abilities and experience of the KSD crew, and because Kelly is able to make great contacts at dance “trade shows,” these are choreographers who have worked with names like Paula Abdul, Prince, Liza Minnelli and the Joffrey Ballet. Every year Kelly brings in experts to help her dancers shine and grow.
Another new feature this year is the launch of an interactive, internet-based dance class that will occur several times throughout the season. Kelly purchased a projector that will make it possible for the students to see their instructor in Los Angeles, and the instructor will be able to see the dancers here in Athens. The instructor is none other than Nick Lazzarini, who was the winner of the first season of So You Think You Can Dance. This would not be possible if KSD weren’t doing so well. “We are growing, and we want to grow for the right reasons,” she said. That has been, and always will be to “grow girls,” and guys, too; help them become a team; and then a family.
Some of the students and their parents had the chance this year to go to New York, visit Radio City Music Hall, see the Statue of Liberty, eat amazing New York food, and dance. This year Kelly will take some families on a 4-day cruise to the Bahamas, and the girls will be part of the entertainment team for Royal Caribbean. Kelly did that when she was younger, and she knows it will be a great experience for everyone that goes. One of the things she always tells her girls is that wherever they go, they are representing KSD and Athens, AL. As a young girl and dancer, Kelly was taught, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice,” and she expects all her students (as well as parents) to behave accordingly. No “dance moms” allowed! To me, that emphasis on character and teaching them how to live well while dancing well is proof once again that “it has always been, and always will be about way more than dancing.” If this type of total dance experience is what you are looking for as you empower your child, KSD is starting back up for the 2018-2019 season soon! You can go online to www.ksd-athens.com to get more information and register. Hurry, though, classes will fill up quickly.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner