Fifteen years ago, Jennifer Turner Long opened a small dance school in Marysville called The Studio.
It didn’t stay small for long.
After just a year, it had to locate to larger space down the road at the Summerdale Plaza, where it remains today, even as enrollment has grown from that first class of 24 students to 450.
“I have a staff of 15 now, but I still teach,” said Long. “It’s still fun. I love being with the kids.”
Despite such growth, Long said that she strives to maintain an atmosphere of closeness and caring.
“Every year, we grow, and managing that is the challenge,” she said. “It’s so important not to feel like a big place. We know our families here. This is our community.”
Simply put, Long wants The Studio to feel like one big family, an effort not lost on Dave Crozier. With four children, ages 8 to 14, all pursuing dance, Crozier, of Enola, spends “a lot of time” there.
“I view The Studio as more than a dance school,” he said. “They teach grace, manners and humility and maintain a family atmosphere.”
Conveying values like work ethic and kindness are also high on the agenda, Long explained.
“We cultivate our students’ best selves,” she said.
When The Studio first opened as a small facility in Marysville, Long went door to door to recruit clients.
Within a year, the business had grown enough to move, but it didn’t expand all at once. Instead, it opened with just one studio in the plaza’s lower level, gradually expanding to four.
“We bootstrapped it,” said Long, who runs the business with husband Kevin, who serves as house photographer and videographer. “We used what we earned and didn’t borrow to build any of this.”
About 30 months into the venture, Long felt confident enough to quit her full-time job in the IT field and devote all of her time to The Studio. In effect, the school served as a daycare for daughter Olivia, now 12, whom the Longs adopted from China.
”I could never get away from dance,” Long said. “It was my calling. It spoke to me.”
One for Us
Dancers at The Studio choose their own path, whether it’s a budding career or just fun.
Recreational dancers are offered combination classes and two significant performance opportunities, while dancers with greater ambitions can pursue specialty paths that include community performance groups, competition teams and professionally staged ballets. Recent public shows include “The Beauty and the Beast” and “Frosty.”
The Studio’s combination classes teach ballet and tap, with jazz beginning at age 7. Specialty genres include ballet technique, pointe, modern and contemporary, jazz intensives and hip-hop. Students’ ages range from 2 years to senior citizens.
Crozier’s daughter Abigail, 12, considers herself an aspiring dancer, while son Shane, 8, has fun doing hip-hop. Amelia, 14, and Olivia, 10, also enjoy studying dance at the school.
Danielle Erdley’s daughter, Elena, 12, takes “pretty much everything,” her mother said, pursuing a full roster that includes ballet, pointe, jazz, tap and contemporary team dance.
“We weren’t there for five minutes when we knew The Studio was the one for us,” recalled Erdley of Mechanicsburg. “Elena connected to Jennifer right away.”
Small wonder that Elena’s little sister, Kathryn, 5, is following suit with ballet and tap lessons.
Ryleigh Prinz, 12, of Perdix, started at The Studio at the tender age of 2 with “Mommy and Me” sessions with mother Desiree. Today, sister Braelyn, 10, joins Ryleigh in a variety of dance activities.
“The Studio is great because it’s flexible,” Desiree said. “My daughters can take as much as they like. Whatever you need, Jen takes care of it.”
Love the Culture
Long believes it’s important to take care of others outside of The Studio. That’s why community service is a vital component of the school’s curriculum.
For example, the school’s Raising the Barre group initiated a costume collection and donation drive last year for Traveling Tutus, an organization that sends costumes to needy children abroad. The group also hosted a “Dancing Through the Storm” party benefiting One America Appeal, a nonprofit that supports natural disaster victims.
In 2015, The Studio joined 1% For Humanity, a worldwide organization fighting extreme poverty and injustice across the globe. Participants pledge to donate at least 1 percent of their income to the cause.
The school also participates each year in the Pennsboro Pumpkin Fest and helps out other worthy causes, including performing at local senior citizens facilities.
“We all really love the culture at The Studio,” Danielle Erdley said. “The kids are all very supportive of each other. It’s just a wonderful community of people.”
The Studio is located at 427 N. Enola Road, Suite A, Enola. For more information, visit www.summerdaledance.com or call 717-614-1942.