Students at the Ashburn Academy of Dance got a special treat this week.
Kayla Rowser, a ballerina with the Nashville Ballet Company, came to the Ashburn school to teach classes May 9 and 10. In addition to the classes, Rowser also shared her experience with dancers during a meet and greet.
Rowser said what most surprised the students was the time commitment of dancing professionally. Rowser said she dances from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and also teaches dance classes a few days a week after she’s finished with her own practice.
Although dancing is a demanding schedule, Rowser said she connected with the ability to communicate through movement without speaking. Originally from Georgia, Rowser joined a professional company just after high school. She’s been with Nashville Ballet 10 years and has loved dancing with what she describes as a tight-knit group.
Rowser said she’s been teaching classes for eight years and loves sharing her passion for dance with students. She said the Ashburn students impressed her with their positivity and eagerness to learn.
“That’s not something you always find,” Rowser said.
One of the Ashburn Academy of Dance students, Ginamarie James, was no stranger to Rowser. James danced in Nashville Ballet’s Summer Intensive, where Rowser participated in some of James’ classes. James was invited to stay with Nashville Ballet, but decided she wanted to finish her last year of high school and then dance in college. She will be studying dance at the University of Arizona, Ashburn Academy of Dance co-owner Katie Beliveau said.
Ashburn Academy of Dance is part of a group of studios that looks to provide a higher standard of training, while keeping costumes, choreography and music age-appropriate, Beliveau said. The academy brings guest artists like Rowser, who have danced with studios in the group.
“They’re getting a great culture and education,” co-owner Anne Marie Kimmell said.
Kimmell said she’d heard of parents who had pulled their children out of dance because they felt costumes were too inappropriate. She and Beliveau wanted to provide an experience where parents wouldn’t have those worries. Kimmell said they have parents who come from as far as Lovettsville to bring their children to the academy.
“We say we’re not just making great dancers, but great people,” Beliveau said.
Although not all of the students will go on to dance professionally, Kimmell and Beliveau said the discipline and confidence students gain from dance are transferable to any career. Rowser echoed this in advice to students. She encouraged students to take as many classes in different styles of dance and with as many different teachers as possible.
“That exposure to different styles and people helps you become adaptable, and that’s a common thread you can take to your schoolwork, jobs or anything in life,” Rowser said. “Ever single person has something to offer you.”