INDIAN TRAIL – After moving to Indian Trail 10 years ago, Sarah Parisi saw many dance studios in the area but none like the one she wanted to open. So she decided to take a chance and create the Imagine Academy of Dance.
Many studios in the area focus on competitions, much like Parisi did as a child when she began dancing. But after receiving her degree in dance performance from Townson State in Maryland and experiencing more than the competition lifestyle, she wanted to give that experience to others.
“I saw that Indian Trail has been growing tremendously since I’ve been here and I felt like there wasn’t a dance studio in the area – the type of dance studio that I wanted to open up,” she said.
Although the economy was not strong at the time, she decided to open Imagine Academy anyway. Parisi said it gave her an advantage because she was a mother as well, who wanted to find affordable alternatives for her children. With her studio not having the costs of competition Parisi says she gives parents a cheaper alternative for their children who want to take dance lessons.
“Just with the way the economy has been I can relate to the parents who want to put their child in an activity at an affordable cost,” Parisi said.
She also says many children who attend her studio come from competition studios and enjoy the change in atmosphere. Without the constant pressure and judging, children are able to have fun and enjoy dance, she said.
“A lot of the parents who do inquire about my studio like the fact that I am not a competition studio,” Parisi said. “I consider my studio to be professional, and I’ve had parents come from other places and are pleased that their kids learned so much in the course of a week.”
Not to mention, removing dance competitions from the expenses makes her studio much more affordable.
“My prices are very reasonable, very competitive,” Parisi said. “I think (parents) like the fact that they are not spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on costumes and classes and all of that kind of
Parisi wants every student to leave her studio with a new found confidence and persistence to work hard in every aspect of their lives. She says the time they spend in the studio helps all of her students, but mostly those in their teenage years who are struggling to fit in and be comfortable with themselves.
“I want them to walk about with the confidence that they can be anything they want to be; they can achieve anything they want to achieve with hard work and discipline,” she said.
Whatever her method is, Parisi’s studio has been a success starting with 50 students her first year, something she hadn’t planned. And due to the quick growth Parisi had to hire a second teacher her first year. Now, three years later, Imagine Academy of Dance has about 100 students.
“I’m really happy with the way the studio has increased,” she said. “I feel like I’m reaching my goal to where I want my studio to go.”
While her students don’t participate in competitions, Imagine Academy does have three performance groups who take part in events like A Taste of Charlotte, movie night in Indian Trail and more. They perform at no cost and take every chance they can to show off their dances.
The Imagine Academy of Dance performance group will perform this Friday, Feb. 22, for the Sun Valley Elementary School Global Festival at 7 p.m. The students learned dances from many different cultures for the event, something Parisi said they enjoyed even though they only had a few days to prepare. The event will be at the school, 5200 Rogers Road, in Monroe.
“It’s a dream come true,” Parisi said. “It’s something I have always wanted to do. I am very excited and proud of my studio. I feel like I have a great group of clientele that walks through this door. I can’t even imagine doing anything else.”