Dancing to Make a Difference in our Community

Dancing to Make a Difference in our Community

by Susan Neuhalfen

It’s a Cinderella story.

As a little girl, all Elya Coleman wanted to do was dance. She saw her dreams realized in 1992 when, as a six year old, she first walked into A Time to Dance and met her teacher, Miss Pam. Not only did Pam McCurley shape her into the talented dancer she became, she helped her grow to be a responsible, dedicated young woman.

“Miss Pam always mentored me and I knew I could always go to her,” said Elya of her teacher. “That was huge for me and it made me love dance even more.”

After high school, Elya trained with several dance companies and performed all over the country, all the while, teaching and choreographing for studios, workshops and even after-school programs. She knew all along, though, that she wanted to come back home.

“It was always on my heart to come back to A Time to Dance,” she said of the studio and teacher she loved so much. “She impacted my life so much as a child.”

Elya came back to A Time to Dance and started teaching. She eventually worked in the office and became Pam’s right hand person. Elya and her husband Clint, who also grew up in a dance family, had always wanted to own a studio. The next step was fate.

Elya and her husband purchased A Time to Dance in 2015, carrying on the tradition that Miss Pam started. She, too, teaches much more than dance.

“The most important thing to us is to help the kids grow in character while still teaching great dance,” she said. “We choose to use these gifts in our community to impact the world around us.”

To Elya, as it was to Miss Pam, dance is much more than a class. It is important that all of the teachers build relationships with the students. Elya said she doesn’t ever want to hire a teacher that is just there to teach, he or she should be there to make an impact. A Time To Dance has a wide range of teachers, all specializing in many forms of dance, and all from different backgrounds. They even have some teachers that are college professors and work in the dance programs at TWU and UNT. Classes range from tap and ballet to hip/hop, modern, jazz and musical theater.

They are a part of an affiliation of dance studios across the nation called “More Than Just Great Dancing”, which is committed to teaching important life skills such as respect, confidence and giving back to the community.

Elya describes A Time to Dance as a Christian dance studio. They mentor, pray and talk to their students to help them build character. They teach them to make an impact through dance to help make the world a better place. Not only do they talk the talk, they dance the talk, so to speak.

Within A Time to Dance, there are several dance companies. Students audition and, in addition to regular classes, they practice during extra hours with their company. These companies then take their craft to the communities performing at nursing homes, schools and community events such as the Community Christmas Concert at the First Baptist Church in Corinth, benefitting the Lake Cities Spirit of Christmas. The students are taught to take their dance into the community and always look for opportunities to give back. They also have Bible studies and other character building activities for the students.

Now in its 27th season, A Time To Dance is still growing, however, the vision and foundation that was built by Miss Pam remains. Miss Pam is still there as well.

She is the director of the children’s program at the studio. The little ones, according to Elya, are her passion. She is apparently happiest with her “babies”.

The best part of this story, however, was saved for last.

When Elya wanted to take lessons her family wasn’t able to afford them. Miss Pam agreed to allow Elya’s family to clean the studio in exchange for lessons. Who could have foreseen that she was shaping that little six year old girl, to carry on the traditions of paying it forward in the community? What an amazing turn of events that some might call fate. To Elya Coleman, it was simply the perfect opportunity to marry her purpose and passion right here at home.

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