Joy Thomas has been lucky in life to turn her childhood hobby into a career. Starting at the age of 11, her love for dance continued to blossom during her youth, eventually taking her down the road to leading her very own classes of mini-ballerinas.
“I started in the fourth grade because my best friend at the time was in dance,” Thomas recalled. “I danced at Parker Dance under Kim Kinnear and she really took me under her wing. A few years later, when I was 15, she gave me my own class of 3-year-olds and I loved it.”
Ten years passed and Thomas went on to get married, start a family and settle in Castle Rock. A few years later, the timing seemed right to look into starting her own dance studio. “It was 2005 when we opened Kids Dance off Founders Parkway. We mostly catered to the little, little ones in the beginning, so it was nice that I could bring my own kids to work with me.”
But as Thomas taught her little dancers, over time, she began to watch them grow, along with the size of her classes. “We were there for five years and when we started to outgrow our space, we started looking at different locations with more room,” she said. That’s when the perfect space popped up.
“We have been in this location, near the library, since 2010 and love it,” smiled Thomas. “We have more space and now have some really great teachers working with us.” With more room to ‘grow,’ the two large studios can readily welcome dancers in their teens. “We have a real range of ages at the studio, young kids who look cute and are just beginning to learn as well as older kids who can really dance,” noted Thomas.
While Thomas wants the focus of Kids Dance to be on technique, form and training – in order to set up a good foundation – she doesn’t involve her students in dance competitions, to give the training a lighter feel. “I don’t want the students that go here to feel pressure,” Thomas said. “Instead of having them compete, we give them the chance to dance in two recitals on a stage in front of an audience.”
Though the end of the year recital in June is mandatory, students have the choice to dance in the upcoming production next month. They need only pay for one costume for the end of the year performance – but for The Nutcracker in December, students will get to save the expense and choose to wear a costume from the school’s inventory.
“This is the first year we have taken on The Nutcracker ballet because we now have the older kids for big parts,” she said. “It’s so cool that the younger students finally have big kids (who are dancers) to look up to.”
And as the date of December 19 gets closer, along with instructors, Noel Hayden and Stephanie Reese, Thomas feels her excitement building each Saturday she steps out from behind the desk and assists with rehearsals. “I love coming out to help to the little ones when they need me to and feel blessed to have a business like this that keeps me in touch with the great community here.”
*Kids Dance accepts all skill levels and has classes for different ages. Click on the business name below for more information and to purchase tickets for their upcoming holiday performance of The Nutcracker (scroll to the bottom of the page).*