Situated on Hughes Road near the intersection of Madison Boulevard lies The Dance Company, a gray building with a modest sign, manicured landscaping, and a typical parade of cars that are coming and going. Though thousands of people drive past their location every day, very few know the rich history of The Dance Company and its deep roots in Madison as one of the oldest and most accomplished local businesses in our city.
The Dance Company in Madison, Alabama
Co-owners Julie George and Beth Cannon have an entrepreneur story that most never tire of hearing; It’s a story of true friendship, dreams achieved, unwavering loyalty, and a lot of really hard work.
George and Cannon grew up together in Madison and sweetly describe themselves as lifelong friends. As George was finishing up her freshman year at UAH and Cannon was preparing to graduate from Bob Jones High School, an opportunity presented itself for the two women to launch their very own dance studio.
With crucial guidance and support from their parents, the two young women jumped into owning their very own studio, and not for one moment have they ever looked back.
They first swung open their doors on June 1st, 1990, and have successfully navigated nearly 33 years as owners of The Dance Company.
Cannon laughs and says that they never thought that they would fail; Despite every challenge thrown their way over the last three decades, they’ve continued to lock arms with each other and push through while offering the community and surrounding areas one of the finest dance experiences in the southeast.
Over the years, The Dance Company has taught more than 10,000 students. When asked how the two business owners were able to grow and maintain their number of students, they both agree that their staff and the dancers’ families have been instrumental in their steady growth.
“We didn’t name this place the ‘Beth and Julie School of Dance’ for a reason. It’s all about ‘we’ here, and God has blessed us immensely with people who we consider family.”
Cannon says that creating a family-friendly atmosphere at the studio has been of utmost priority from day one.
“What we teach and how we teach has always been very conservative, and Madison has always been so highly supportive of us over the years.”
George agrees and continues to share that she “really believes it’s about our core values and how we function as a family unit. Our teachers support our students, and we see over and over how they pour into the students not only through dance but through the life lessons they teach.”
“Our long-timers support our newcomers and so on,” says Cannon. “I can’t even begin to count how many second-generation dancers we have here who have a parent that danced at The Dance Company.”
George says that ultimately, The Dance Company is all about a quality product.
What is The Dance Company?
The Dance Company is a studio that offers a large variety of classes to children as young as two years old all the way up through adult instruction. It offers not only instructional classes year-round, but they also have a competition group as well as an annual production of The Nutcracker, and a year-end weekend-long recital.
Instructional classes include ballet, jazz, pointe, contemporary, acrobatics, hip hop, musical theater, and baton.
Competition options are available for dancers who “desire to be more serious about dance.” There are hundreds of dancers enrolled at The Dance Company each year, though the competition element is typically only made up of about 10-15% of the total number of students.
The Dance Company also offers a “happy medium” of sorts with plenty of options for dancers that desire to be more serious about their dance studies and participation but do not want to compete.
When asked what makes The Dance Company unique, Cannon says that two things quickly come to mind.
“We are very in tune with the needs of each dancer, whether he or she is a company (competition) dancer or not.”
She continued to share that they strive to ensure each dancer is in classes that are not only appropriate for his or her age and ability level but are also of high interest to that student too. For parents who feel a bit lost about which classes are best to sign up for or how to have the best experience for their son or daughter, Cannon and George are available by phone or email year-round to discuss an array of placement opportunities that will meet each dancer’s interests and goals.
George says that the other element that makes The Dance Company unique is its credibility as a stand-out studio at competitions year after year.
“We win nationally a lot,” they both giggle and say with an air of humility but pride. “We are very competitive.”
Cannon says that while some dance studios don’t strive to be at a high level of performance, The Dance Company absolutely does, and their lengthy list of alumni that have continued on to dance collegiately and even professionally tells an accurate story of how their high-level training pays off.
Another key contributor to the high-level program The Dance Company offers is its roster of skilled teachers.
“We can’t say enough good things about our staff,” says George. “It’s an all-adult staff most importantly. We don’t put high school girls with the toddlers; Even the little ones have trained adults teaching them who are continually taking dance education classes themselves.”
Cannon explains that they are “very thorough” with their hiring process and ensure the highest quality teachers possible that will give an A+ experience to parents and dancers alike.
Though The Dance Company is known for its strong reputation of offering a high-level and well-rounded dance experience, George and Cannon are both adamant about having their arms wide open to those who feel completely in the dark about what dance is all about. They explain that interested students and parents shouldn’t feel intimidated about giving the studio a call or coming in to discuss options for the upcoming school year.
“Often when students are registering for the first time, we invite them to take a summer class that is short and sweet, just to see if they like it.”
Cannon says that the best part of trying out the studio during the summer is that students are invited to just wear tennis shoes and comfortable clothing without having to invest in tights, leotards, dance shoes, etc.
“If you enjoy it, we’ll get you all signed up for the school year!”
Preschool options for first-time dancers include a Stage Arts program for toddlers/preschoolers and a 5-6-year-old combination class (ballet and tap). These classes are all one hour each.
The Dance Company may also be implementing a new “Mommy & Me” class this fall too!
Though the school year does conclude with a May recital, there is no obligation to continue dancing throughout the year and students are welcome to drop at any time.
“About 99% of our students complete the entire school year though,” shares Cannon.
For elementary, middle, and high school students who have never danced before, The Dance Company offers a variety of beginners classes with other students of the same age and ability level.
“When you sign up for the first time, you’ll set up a customer portal with information, or if you’d like, we can do all of that over the phone.”
Another suggestion for newcomers that George and Cannon both agree is a great idea is to attend the end-of-year recital in May at the VBC in Huntsville.
“Our recital isn’t ticketed, so anybody can come to watch! This is a fun way to see what we do and gauge your child’s interest.”
When asked why George and Cannon are continually so passionate about pouring into others via dance, they both agreed that dance is “all about empowering young people to be their very best selves.”
“Dance gives students confidence for job interviews and all the things they’ll do later on down the road. They’ll be empowered to stand up in front of others, and we instill in them their self-worth.”
George and Cannon shared that running The Dance Company during the pandemic was a challenging experience but that they knew that their youth needed a safe outlet.
“This place has become more than just somewhere to dance. Some of these kids had nowhere else to go besides their homes, and we could offer them an activity.”
When asked what the two women really love at the end of the day about continually running their business, Cannon shares that “after 33 years, you have a much bigger view in that rearview mirror that helps you move forward. And also, the relationships are priceless to me.”
George echoes Cannon and adds that “our recital theme this year is FRIENDS, but we could have also called it ‘family’. Being a part of these young people’s lives and hopefully getting to impact them in some ways is really special.”
For registration information for the upcoming school year, click here.
Quick Links for The Dance Company in Madison, Alabama
19 Hughes Road
Madison, AL 35758
Studio photography by Whitney Briscoe Photography for All Things Madison and The Dance Company