INDIAN TRAIL – After years of taking dance lessons, dancing in big cities and teaching at various studios, Lesli Todd was ready to settle down. So, she did, and the Harmony Dance Center was born.
The Wingate resident will celebrate the opening of her first studio this weekend with a two-part grand opening extravaganza.
Future students, parents and community members are invited to attend the celebration on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24 and 25. Events last from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday and 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and take place at the studio, located at 5520 Cannon Drive, suite 102, in Indian Trail.
Originally from Mobile, Ala., Todd started dancing at the age of 2 – her mother was a dance teacher – and since then, she’s pretty much done it all. She’s danced professionally in New York City and Chicago and helped run her mother’s dance studio. She took a break from dance for about five years to play on a professional touring disc golf team. And after her last tour was over, she moved to the Charlotte area and decided to get back into dancing, this time as a teacher.
Todd started her teaching career in the area working in various local dance studios, but she always had the dream of starting her own studio. About two and a half years ago, she decided the time had come and approached Southbrook Church, located near the Weddington-Wesley Chapel line, about using their facility for dance classes.
“You realize that when you teach for so long and so many people (take your classes) it’s a good decision to go into the studio business,” Todd said. “It takes a while to build up your clientele, to save, invest and open a business. I always had the focus of having (my own) studio; it just took me many, many years to get there.”
After spending the last couple of years teaching at Southbrook, the time had come for Todd to get her own facility. “When I approached Southbrook Church to start it out, it was a small program. We have grown so much there at Southbrook that we’ve kind of outgrown the space,” she said. “It’s always been my intention, and the timing was just perfect to move into Indian Trail.”
The new studio has a little more than 2,100 square feet of space with an upstairs area and a large dance room of about 860 square feet. The location – right off Sardis Church Road behind the new QwikTrip convenience store – is something Todd’s excited about.
“Indian Trail, and that area, is very central located, so I found out it was the best fit for our facility,” she said.
The Harmony Dance Center will offer many different styles of dance: ballet, point, jazz, tap and modern dance, all of which Todd will teach. The studio also recently hired another teacher to hold hip-hop dance classes, as well.
But the studio doesn’t just concentrate on dance. The Harmony Dance Center will hold a “tumbletots” class, which teaches the very basic gymnastic moves (i.e. tumbling) to small children. The studio also will offer fitness classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays for adults, taught by a personal trainer.
“I’m pretty exited to have a class for parents, too,” Todd said. “They can put it into their schedule to take fitness while waiting for kids to take dance.” Because their schedules can be hectic and sporadic, adults taking the fitness course can pay per class rather than committing to a long-term program, she added.
This weekend, students will have the opportunity to check out the studio, register for classes and take part in painting a large canvas to be displayed in the studio. Also, there will be a free hip-hop dance lesson for anyone, and adults can take part in a ballroom dance session. “I thought it would be a fun thing for adults to get a chance to experience the studio and learn a couple moves,” Todd said, adding that if the public interest is significant, she may consider offering ballroom lessons in the future.
For Todd, the goal for the studio is to reach out to students of all types. “We have programs that are tailored more to pre-professional students, those who are taking it more seriously to a higher level,” she said. “I have many students who have gone on to professional careers, and several students have danced on Broadway. We’re capable of training a student to be a professional dancer, but we also understand that’s not for everyone. There’s so many that just want to have fun and hang out with their friends, and we try to facilitate those students as well.”
In the coming weeks and months, Todd hopes to spread the word throughout the community so children and youth will discover the Harmony Dance Center and all it has to offer. “There’s a lot of different benefits from dance,” she said. “Fitness is a big thing. It’s very important for students to learn healthy lifestyles at a young age. There’s self-discipline, you learn how to be a team player, work with others. It’s very great for basic coordination, posture, grace. It’s about having fun and learning to grow a passion for something and learn that dedication that it takes to be successful.”