When Kelly Nave, owner of Kelly’s Studio of Dance talks about “her girls,” her eyes, voice and heart spill over. She clearly loves her students, and is dedicated to drawing forth the best in them, as dancers, as involved members of the community, and as young women of faith. In a word, she wants to prepare her students to “dance well with life.”
Kelly is 34, a wife and mother, and has been continually involved in the world of dance for the past 30 years. She began her training and career as a multi-platinum and gold medal winning dancer at the ripe old age of 4. Kelly has had the opportunity to dance nationally and internationally in competitions and foreign student exchange programs, is a partner in a studio in Huntsville, and owns Kelly’s Studio of Dance, located at 809 US Highway 72 W Ste H, in Athens, right next door to One Love Hearing Concepts.
The day we met for coffee, Kelly had just come off of two intensives, which are like day camps where you work very hard. One was for students of hip hop, the other, classical ballet. She had hired two master teachers from outside the area for each intensive. The “hip-hopster” is named Hannah Wintrode, who has been part of “Monsters of Hip-Hop,” and is currently dancing on the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert tour. Judy Rice headed up the ballet intensive. Judy is a graduate of the National Ballet School of Canada, and has danced with the Joffrey Ballet. Judy has a specific proven system of teaching that she has developed over the years, and travels extensively in order to help dancers improve dramatically in a short period of time.
I asked Kelly what she thought were some of the best results from having the two experts work with her girls. “Hannah shot a short video, which was a thrill for them.” She also said that there were girls in both categories whose confidence just soared. “Their body placement improved so much,” Kelly said. I learned that “body placement” refers to the way you carry yourself and move in order express a particular dance style or genre, such as when people are imitating robots as part of their performance.
Kelly was like a proud mama as she told of the girls giving 100%, being focused, and heeding the advice of the experts. The work of the masters as well as the pupils definitely paid off.
Speaking of “positioning,” Kelly makes sure her students “place” themselves in the community for various volunteer endeavors. This year they are planning on being involved in a back to school drive, and have adopted Athens Elementary as their “target” for donating school supplies. They will also sponsor kids for Christmas who are students at Julian Newman Elementary, and will ride in the annual Athens Christmas parade. They have danced in Grease Festival in the past, and hope to again this year.
Kelly’s Studio of Dance always has their recital in June, and this summer, in addition to their own performances, they helped facilitate Francita Mieux’s “Just For Me” Dance School students’ performance as part of the program. “Just For Me” is for students with various disabilities, and gives kids who would never get a chance to learn the art and discipline of dance an opportunity to do so. “I really want to promote what Miss Fran does,” said Kelly, and added, “I hope this year some of my dancers will volunteer at ‘Just For Me.’”
Something I appreciate about Kelly is that she is interested in far more than training dancers; she wants to bless the community by strengthening her students spiritually. This summer KSD has had a bible study for girls who are a part of the school, as well as their friends, whether or not the friends are dancers. It is called “Godly Girls,” and has been one of the best parts of the summer.
Kelly’s Studio of Dance has classes for children as young as 2 years old on up to 18. Registration is now open for fall classes, which will be starting on August 11th. If you are looking for a place for your daughter, son, or grandchild to learn to dance well, live well, and grow into a whole young person, then Kelly’s is for you.
Kelly’s Studio of Dance
809 US Hwy 72 W, Ste H, Athens, AL 35611
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By: Ali Elizabeth Turner