A ballet barre and a wall full of mirrors has for many decades kept floor hockey players out of the United Church Hall on Third Avenue, but those features have certainly solidified the site as a home base for Hope’s young dancers.
Some 20 years ago, a young Ashley Kraszlany entered the hall’s doors for her first dance lessons. Now, she’s back as Ashley Limb — AKA Miss Ashley — the owner and instructor of Twinkle Toes Dance Studio.
Limb started the studio three years ago and around 20 of the students who started with her are still coming back, joined by forty others, from age three to 14.
“My numbers are very strong this year,” says Limb. “Every class is full. My jazz 7-9 and jazz 10-14 classes are my biggest numbers, with 13 students in each class.
“I’m up by 12 dancers from last year, and now have a wait list for some classes.”
Some of her students are in both dance and figure skating — as well as many other activities such as swimming, cheer, scouts, girls club and/or piano. This can make for a clash of schedules.
“I’ve found that Thursdays have the least amount of conflict with other activities that children are in,” says Limb.
So, it’s one night per week: Thursday.
“Thursdays are definitely my busy day,” she says. “I work a full day at the school board office and race over to the hall to begin my five classes of dance, back-to-back. It’s a long day, but it’s very rewarding.”
“My mom [Wendy Kraszlany] helps me with my Wee Steps class. The dancers think it’s pretty neat to have Miss Ashley’s mom in the class. She’s a big hit!”
Wee Steps is for ages three and four, then there’s ballet and beginner jazz for ages five to seven. There’s also a jazz/hip hop class for age seven to nine and one for the age 10-14 group.
“This year, I’ve incorporated a little hip hop into the older jazz classes,” says Limb. “This introduces new moves that are less structured into the dances and the dancers seem to love it.”
“I have two boys involved, both in jazz classes,” she adds.
Why consider dance for your kids?
“Dance is a highly physical activity,” says Limb. “It can improve flexibility, range of motion and balance in a child. In addition, it’s a highly social activity. In dance, students learn to work as a team, develop trust, cooperation and make new friends.
“I find that dance is a great activity for shy children.”
Limb’s lesson ideas come from a variety of sources.
“A lot of my inspirations come from drop-in classes I take part in down the valley, as well as general experience from music, shows or movies,” she says. “Sometimes in class we have an activity where the students find a partner and create their own dance to parts of songs. I watch their moves and try to incorporate parts of that into their dance routines.”
The people who had the foresight to install the wall of mirrors have left a legacy that continues to give.
“The mirrors are very important for instruction as the students can see themselves, as well as myself and others so it’s great for timing and positioning,” says Limb.
While the hall’s cozy confines aren’t conducive to having an audience for the weekly sessions, Limb tries to have open houses three times a year, so parents can see what the students have been working on. There’s also the annual recital in May.
“The dancers don’t like to have their parents watch, closer to the spring recital,” she says, “as they want to keep the majority of their routine private until they perform it for them.”
You can also get a look at some of the studio’s dancers next month.
“My jazz 5-7 group has been asked to do a reindeer dance along with the Hope Community Choir at their concert on Dec. 13 [at Grace Baptist Church]. We’ve been practicing the song and the moves that have been provided.”
The spring session begins on Jan.10, though classes are currently full. You can contact Limb at 604-869-1834 or email@example.com to have your child put on a wait list.