Moffat County students find consistent dance spot in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County students find consistent dance spot in Craig

After two years at Centennial Mall, Just Dance provides a creative home for hundreds of students

Michael Neary

Instructors Shaeli Hatten, front, and Alyssa Zimmerman lead a session in Creative Expression for very young dancers at Just Dance, in Craig.

— As Jeni Giedd grew up in Craig, she loved to dance — but to do so, she often had to travel to Steamboat Springs.

"There was a huge lack of dance opportunity … in Craig," she said. "It was sad that my mom and grandma had to sacrifice a ton for dance because that's what I love to do."

Giedd said good instruction existed in Craig but said there wasn't a firmly established spot where students could go.

Today, there is a place for dance: Just Dance, a two-studio facility in Centennial Mall. It's a business Giedd has owned for about nine years, and it's been in its current location for two. The studio introduces dancers, starting at age 3, to the craft, and offers classes for teens, as well. One class offers hip-hop dance in a section especially designed for boys.

Giedd said classes costs $40 per month, with scholarship money — generated from recitals — available for families who need it.

Giedd also has been running the studio long enough to see students she taught as toddlers take the helm as dance instructors.

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Moffat County High School junior Shaeli Hatten, once a student of Giedd, now teaches jazz and creative movement classes for the studio.

"I remember being this age in Jazz 1 class, and I just think it's cool that I'm teaching the class that I used to look forward to going to all the time," Hatten said.

On Monday, Hatten was teaching along with Moffat County High School students, Alyssa Zimmerman and KennaLee Rowley.

As a high school student herself, Hatten notices the way dance seeps into the other learning she does.

"It's the only thing that really got me through my French class," she said, noting that the French ballet terms helped to familiarize her with the language. She observed other learning connections, as well.

"A lot of the memorization in choreography helps me to memorize more stuff at school," she said. "And it's taught me how to respect others … to learn how to work with others."

As for teens who take classes at the studio, dance often takes on a form that leans firmly toward self-expression.

"They'll come to us and say, 'I want to do this song and this dance,'" Giedd said. "It usually has a meaning for them. It's their way of telling a story."

Giedd said about 200 students are enrolled in 22 classes, and noted students also are enrolled in private and duet lessons.

Melisa Pearcey decided to bring her daughter to the studio after watching the way she danced at home.

"Any time music came on, she was bumping to it," Pearcey said, as her 3-year-old daughter, Macie, headed into a creative movement class. "She's quite the little dancer."

Pearcey said her daughter has taken easily to dancing with other children after performing solo for a time at home.

Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.