The floor-to-ceiling mirrors are being hung, the hardwood floor has already been laid and the pink and beige dance studio called Greenbrier Dance Academy is getting ready for its grand opening Aug. 2. First classes begin Aug. 26.
Owner Sheila Beene is a certified Dance Master and has been dancing since she was just 4 years old. She owns a successful dance studio in Searcy that opened in 2001 and now has more than 100 dancers and four certified Dance Master assistants to help her teach there four days a week.
Sheila and her husband, Mark, will celebrate 25 years of marriage in March and have raised five children. They now have five grandchildren, three of whom are ages 5, 4 and 3 and want to dance — but not just any old way — they want to learn with “Mamaw.” This has been the motivation for Sheila to open another dance studio in Greenbrier, actually where she started with her first dance studio when she was just 16 years old.
Mt. Vernon is her home, and she had sites planned for either Vilonia or Greenbrier, which were equal distances for her to travel. Sheila said, “My decision was made for me when the Vilonia site blew away! I took that as a sign I was meant to return to my roots here in Greenbrier.”
Sheila studied with the Little Rock School of Dance until age 13 when the family moved to Greenbrier. She opened Dance Arts Studio north of Shady Grove when just 16 and had three different locations over the next 18 years. She went to UCA for two years before deciding to start her family; but she said, “I was just not meant to be a stay-at-home mom. I tried and found I needed to dance.”
She toured for a year with Arkansas Dance Connection, has filled in, choreographed and produced “The Nutcracker” and even danced back-up hip-hop for Brothers in Christ coalition in the 90’s. She is quick to tell you that even though she has performed most of her life, teaching is her passion. She is secretary of Southern Association of Dance Masters, a non-profit group throughout the South dedicated to the betterment of dance.
Her favorite dance is tap, but she also teaches ballet, jazz, lyrical and tumbling for the small-fry. “Ballet is necessary for all forms of dance,” said Sheila. The little tots learn ballet, tap and tumbling, but cooperation, music and rhythm are “what they learn but they don’t know they’re learning,” she said.
She also offers classes for seniors. They were a hit at her last Searcy show when they appeared on stage in bath robes and walkers, only to throw those aside to reveal their costumes and skill at tap dancing. She also has had some positive comments from judges when her all teen boys’ hip-hop class in Searcy appeared in competition.
The judges’ comments were, “Those boys dance like ‘dudes’ and the girls really dance like girls.” Sheila prides herself on choreography that matches the skill of the dancers and shows them to their best advantage.
Two of her students won a competition of Kids’ Artistic Review for most entertaining theatrical performance in 2011 for a free trip to New York. They had backstage passes to “Wicked” and “Spider-Man 2” and even got to dance with the Rockettes. The next dance competition will be in Olive Branch, Miss., Oct. 18 and 19, and some of Sheila’s students are already planning to be there.
Call 501-679-0740 for information about enrollment for Tuesday classes in Greenbrier.
The studio is at 17 Business Park Drive, Suite 14. It is an easy location to find in the small Professional Center on the drive just north of the City Event Center. Beginner classes start are $48 and up, depending on the skill level.