By Meredith Knight | Photo by Scott Peek Photography
It seems impossible to Julie Dickens that she’s celebrating her 10th anniversary of JDM School of Dance. But it also feels like the studio and its dancers have always been a part of her life. For Julie, dance has been a constant since age two. “It was something my mom and I shared,” she said. “I can remember her taking me to dance when I was little and always seeing her face in the crowd when I performed.”
Competitive dance was always an emotional and physical outlet for Julie, but never more than when her family relocated from Iowa to Pennsylvania in her sixth-grade year. When she made the local competitive dance team, she had an instant group of friends who soon became like family. In fact, those girls are still some of her best friends today.
Julie worked as a dance instructor throughout high school then went on to minor in dance in college and dance on the university dance team. “I was a biology and chemistry major, and dance gave me an outlet and a way to balance my life,” she said. “It also offered me another group of friends I could connect with over a common interest.”
Even after she landed a job within her field, Julie continued to dance and teach dance. Then, in 2003 she moved to Texas and began a nursing career. “I wasn’t happy and couldn’t figure out why,” Julie said. “Then, I realized at age 27 it was the first time in my life I wasn’t dancing.” Finding a dance class brought balance back into her life, but that brief time without it had helped her realize just how much dance added to her life balance and well-being.
When Julie’s daughter was born, she couldn’t wait to carry on the dance tradition with her. “She was on a competitive team by five, but she wasn’t enjoying it,” Julie said. “I’d danced at enough studios to know what I wanted for her and decided if she wasn’t getting it elsewhere, I would provide it for her.”
Julie opened JDM School of Dance in 2013, offering girls an environment where dance is taken seriously but emphasis was also placed on fun, creativity, and building community. She welcomed the dance moms and gave them opportunities to meet and form friendships. “I love that my staff and I have the opportunity to change lives,” Julie said. “Young dancers learn teamwork, the importance of moving their bodies, of waiting their turn. They learn discipline and goal setting, poise,
Classes start with Twinkle Babies and continue with hip hop, ballet, jazz, tap, acro-dance, lyrical, and cheer while JDM’s performance company fosters teamwork, growth in skills, and an outlet to serve in the community. “It really warms my heart to be able to pass those lessons on to the next generation,” Julie said.
Find out more at JDMSchoolofDance.com.