We've all heard the adage: “Do what you love and success will follow.”
I don't know many people who've actually adhered to that saying. But the few who have prove it's true.
Case in point, Sabrina LeClair, owner of Steps 'N Motion Dance Studio. She moved to Charlotte when she was 4 (does that make her a native?) and already had a year of dance under her belt.
Growing up in Charlotte then, there weren't a lot of dance studios. The crème de la crème, she remembers, was Grose School of Dance. She enrolled and continued her love for dancing.
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Grose, and most dance studios at that time, did a lot of community entertainment. Whether dancing in Christmas shows or being a junior Kilgo Girl for “Kilgo's Canteen” (a local TV show similar to “American Bandstand”), LeClair was doing what she loved.
She smiles and says, “I'd love it if someone had some old footage of those ‘Kilgo's Canteen' shows so I could watch them again.”
It wasn't long before Harry “Bubba” Grose saw something special in LeClair. Once she was old enough, he offered her a job teaching classes. She jumped at the chance and has kept at it ever since.
Going off to college, LeClair majored in early childhood education and, of course, dance.
With college nearing the end, LeClair decided to go out on her own. She opened her first dance studio in an old barbershop. With sinks still lining the 600-square-foot space, she had 25 kids in her first year. That was 27 years ago. Now Steps 'N Motion has more than 6,000 square feet of space, 10 teachers, and enrollment ranging from 700 to 800 students.
Her clients range in age from 2 to adult. Her classes run the gamut from ballet to hip-hop. And, you guessed it, hip-hop is by far the most popular class offered, with more than half of her students taking some class in this style.
She reminds me that she sticks to the traditional values of dancing and that she wants her students to understand the basic principles before going on to interpret moves on their own. That's sort of like how an artist has to learn to draw realistically before beginning to draw in the abstract.
We talk about television shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing With the Stars.” LeClair is thrilled these shows are on TV and how they “bring dance into everyone's home.”
Because of shows like these, she explains, her students are exposed to many different styles of dancing and the music that goes along with them. She and her students find them inspirational.
Many of her students and groups compete on regional and national levels. In the latter, the competitions bring groups in from all over the country. She is amazed at how accomplished the California dancers are.
“They are so technically strong,” she says of the West Coast dancers. “They are edgier, more modern. Many people think the dance trends come from New York, when they actually come from California.
“New York dancers are more along the lines of Broadway productions. They bring a lot of musical theater to the scene,” says LeClair.
And the South? “Well,” she says, “we are a real mixture of it all.”
As she thinks about all her dancers and all she has done over the past 27 years, “it was never about being a big dance studio,” she says. “I'm just doing what I enjoy, and I'm very proud of the charitable contributions we make to the area.”
Perhaps of most interest is Camp C.A.R.E. (Cancer Ain't Really the End) at Lake Lure. Here, she takes a group of her students to the summer camp to teach and perform for a group of children coping with various stages and types of cancer.
LeClair says, “Everything has come with time. This whole thing has been a journey and quite pleasurable experience.”
Keep on dancin'.