By Avra Sullivan
“Dance your hearts out.” That is the instruction Jessica Gallew gives to her students as they walk in the door of her studio. Jessica is the owner and director of Step 1 Dance 2 Academy in Chester, where she has been teaching kids through adults the art and technique of dance since moving the studio a year ago from Kansas where she was located for almost 3 years. Dancing since the age of 3, Jessica says she always knew dance would be her career. “If I hear music, I have to move. There was never anything else I could see myself doing.” Determined to make that happen, she attended the Philadelphia School of Creative and Performing Arts for high school. She then auditioned and was accepted into Point Park University where she graduated in 2005 with a BA in Jazz and Modern Dance. While she may have extensive professional credits to her name, and has trained with some of the best in the industry, she really wants dance for her students to be about fun. “I want them to enjoy their time here”, she says.
“I love every one of my students and I love being able to get to know them.” Jessica and her staff, who together encompass a wide variety of dance backgrounds and expertise, strive to give all students a well-rounded experience in a nurturing and positive environment. While they are sure to learn the technical skills involved with dance, she also encourages her students to find their own expression. “We have a circle time after warm ups where we just free-style. I let the kids’ move around and try out new things that feel right to them.” Often from those sessions, inspiration and choreography emerges. “I learn from them,” she says. Always wanting to challenge both herself and her students, she has created a studio where they can explore all different styles of dance, from ballet, to jazz, modern, tap and even hip hop. A yearly Showcase allows them to show off the skills they have learned, under the lime lights. Jessica also tries to expose them to the world of dance outside her own studio. She will be taking several of her students on a field trip to New York to the Broadway Dance Center where they can see what is up and coming in the world of dance.
Step 1 Dance 2 is not a studio just for kids, either. Jessica offers Zumba, Strength and Conditioning, and Adult Hip Hop classes, and welcomes and encourages adults wanting to explore dance as a fun fitness option, or pick up where they may have left off as kids. The emphasis is still the same, you will learn, but in a fun, no -pressure atmosphere.
You can find out more about Step 1 Dance 2 on their website at www.step1dance2.com or by calling the studio at 410-758-3249. They are located at 1810 Main Street in Chester. You can also visit them on Facebook.