Chelsea Speer dances to her beat at Turning Pointe Dance.
His new studio opened last month on US 93, where Speer offers dance lessons unlike most others in the Flathead Valley.
“My motto is to make dance accessible to everyone,” said Speer, a special education teacher for 15 years.
She recently retired from her teaching position at Edgerton Elementary School to focus on teaching dance full time.
Speer’s unique background makes her well equipped to introduce all kinds of dancers to the activity she enjoys.
Classes at Turning Pointe Dance Studio are open to participants of all skill levels and a wide range of ages.
Dancers can start as young as 18 months old alongside a parent. Speer is also starting adult classes this year.
For Speer, who has been dancing since she was little, it’s important to give everyone the chance to experience the many benefits of dancing, from physical exercise and memorization skills to increased esteem. self.
“I believe in inclusion,” she said.
In fact, she started offering lessons for dancers with special needs after working with two local children who couldn’t find an activity suited to their particular abilities.
Their parents told Speer, “They want to move, but when we take them to a class, they say they have to fit into a class, not the other way around.”
It was an eye-opening experience for Speer. Compared to his native Arizona, Speer found that the Flathead Valley lacked many inclusive activity options.
“I watched and there aren’t many,” she said. “There is a lot of therapy but not something that is just for fun.”
She looked for specific training in order to be able to give dance lessons to students of all levels. Speer combined this training with her extensive previous experience as a college dance major and instructor for over 25 years.
SPEER’S APPROACH uses different teaching modalities, such as visual cues in addition to oral instructions.
Speer also makes a point of tailoring its courses to the individual needs of its students. People with sensory issues, for example, might prefer quieter music. Others do better when they don’t look at themselves in the mirror. And many dancers appreciate having the choice of performing at the end of the class or keeping their movements strictly inside the studio.
Turning Pointe Dance is a venue for the practice of ballet, jazz, lyrical tap dancing, hip-hop, Broadway and contemporary dance.
Speer offers summer camps in August and the official course semester begins August 30.
Classes are held twice a week until May, when students have the option of participating in a live or studio show. Speer also offers the option to enroll on a monthly basis, as many of its students are only in the valley part of the year or participate in other activities besides dancing.
Class sizes typically range from four to 10 students, as Speer said she is passionate about giving each student individual attention.
Registrations for fall courses are now open on turn-pointe-dance.com. The studio is located at 3525 Autumn Court in Kalispell, near the Northwest Montana Humane Society on US 93.
Journalist Bret Anne Serbin can be reached at 406-758-4459 or [email protected]