Garrett – They call themselves “The Board”.
Two dancing moms who want the best for their kids develop a vision for a long-running Garrett School of Dance.
Lacy Seibel purchased the Ellie Paige Dance Academy in November with roots stretching back over 50 years to the Patricia Krus School of Dance.
Shannon Bell, who serves as administrative assistant, describes Seibel as “a dance mom who loved her daughter so much she bought a studio.
“I feel like as a mother, we want to give our kids our best,” Bell said. “I feel like unfortunately we had to change studios for various reasons in the past and we didn’t want them to move again.
“But it was more than that. When we all arrived at EPDA, we felt like home. We love our instructors, including Ellie (Elizabeth), we love the other dance students, the community and the families that come here. It was too much to walk away from,” she said.
“Yeah, it’s fair to say I bought the studio for my daughter’s future,” Seibel said. “If she wishes, she will eventually take over as owner.”
Seibel’s daughter Jamelynn, 11, has a rare genetic condition similar to a small stroke in her eye four years ago, causing damage to her retina. At the time, she was active in gymnastics classes at another school.
Jamelynn underwent surgery to correct the condition, but came away with optic nerve damage resulting in depth perception issues that will require lifelong treatment.
“So it’s really amazing to be able to dance at the level that she does, she’s a natural dancer,” Seibel said. “Dancing is one of the best things she does.”
Seibel and Bell want to return to the school’s competitive dance teams after falling out of the competition ring for more than three years for COVID and personal issues.
Last weekend, the school won three first place trophies and four NexStar Dance Competition Top 10 finishes in their return to competition and Jamelynn was presented with the ‘Diva Award’ by the judges.
“She’s this dance diva,” her mother said of Jamelynn.
Also part of the eight-member competition team are Bell’s children, Lucas and Ashlynn, Anna Zolman, Katie Blessinger, Sophia Wilson, Tori Hug and Autumn Saum.
Bell and Seibel consider the discipline of dance to be important for a successful future. It’s the fact of keeping trying if you don’t succeed the first time – it’s this persistence, it’s this will to continue to be better.
“As far back as I can remember, Jamelynn knows she wants to be a large animal vet, like in a zoo,” Seibel said. “I want her to enjoy her dancing career for as long as it lasts,” she added.
Bell’s daughter also wants to be a veterinarian one day and her son an engineer.
“Learning to dance from within” is their common mantra.
In a world of iPhones and iPads, Seibel and Bell want to open “The Board” to parents.
“We want to make this a family thing again, we want this to be a solid place for families to come,” Seibel said, and growing up in the Garrett community.
The school will change its name next season to Dance with Joy. There are plans to introduce acrobatic silks and cheer dancing, as well as traditional tap, ballet, jazz and hip-hop classes,
A larger studio will be required to accommodate the silk class which implements silk ropes from a ceiling which must be at least 12 feet high and double in square feet. Their current second-floor studio at 121 N. Randolph Street is 1,800 square feet. Also on the drawing board are a dance program for daytime homeschoolers, a mommy/friend and me dance class, ongoing classes for those students after high school, and classes for adults. They would also like to offer a class for children in special education.
Seibel, who lives in Garrett, enjoyed theater and musicals as a student at New Haven High School, but admits she’s not an instructor.
But one of the main goals is to stay in the Garrett community and they are looking for a bigger facility.
“This is where I call home,” Seibel said.
“We want to make it a family thing,” Bell added.
Up next are two dance competitions in April and the annual dance recital on Saturday, June 11 at the Garrett High School Performing Arts Center. They will also perform at Eastside Park during Heritage Days on July 4.
“We’re really proud of the work all of our dancers have done this year, I know it’s been a lot of confusion moving from the EPDA and making sure everyone is on the same page,” said said Bell.
Current staff includes Verity Evans, Akeisha Heiman, former owner Elizabeth Graybeal and Amelia Hartkopf, with new staff joining in the fall.
The school is currently holding a fundraiser for fruit turnovers in eight flavors with a deadline Friday. For more school and fundraising information, people can go to the school’s Facebook page, Ellie Paige Dance.