MONROE – Ever since she was a little girl, Natalie Fritz knew she wanted to have her own dance studio, but she wanted it to be different. Now, at 19 years old, the Sun Valley grad from Stallings has made her dream come true.
Fritz opened Tenth Talent in Monroe in June after months of renovations and a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. She serves as the choreographer and studio owner, while her mom, Linda, handles the advertising and marketing. She also helped Fritz start the company and secure the space.
Tenth Talent offers a variety of dance classes for ages 2 to 18 years old, including acro (tumbling and aerial work), ballet, baton, cheer, combination, contemporary, hip-hop, improv, skills, jazz, lyrical, tap and heels — a high energy dance class done in high heels. Fritz said heels classes help improve ankle strength and stability, which is a must for dancers.
Registration is open and Fritz said she’s taking coronavirus precautions seriously. Class sizes are small and there is tape on the floor to ensure social distancing. She is also wiping down high-touch surfaces, offering hand sanitizer and taking temperature checks.
In addition, the studio offers summer camps, professional photography services and a Virtual Learning Day Camp for K-12 students doing remote schooling this fall.
Tenth Talent was supposed to open in the spring, but COVID-19 threw a wrench in those plans. Fritz had to pause renovations and then she lost her job at B.Good in Ballantyne, which had been helping fund her lifelong dream. Despite every reason to give up, she kept pushing forward.
“I didn’t want to allow myself to be so excited about something for so long and then let something out of my control ruin that excitement for me,” Fritz said.
Fritz was a tomboy when she was younger. She was into basketball and said dance never even crossed her mind until she learned about the competitions. At 7 years old, she was drawn in by the idea of winning trophies and began taking hip-hop classes.
Since then, Fritz has won awards for her dancing and choreography, which she’s been teaching since eighth grade. She even trained at Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles. Their exclusive certification program attracts dancers from around the world.
Fritz said she knew early on she wanted to own a studio and has been learning the business ever since. Some of her teachers and studio owners even gave her advice and showed her the ins and outs.
“Had I not had those opportunities, there’s no way I’d feel comfortable running my own business,” Fritz said.
But she also noticed the faults of the studios where she grew up dancing and made note of what she would do differently. With Tenth Talent, she said her main goal is to show dancers there is another way to learn and the environment can be different than what they’re used to.
One of the key differences at Tenth Talent is affordability. Class prices are among some of the lowest in the area and that’s for a reason.
Fritz said dancing was not only an outlet for her growing up. It also taught her self-confidence, poise and how to speak clearly, carry herself and be a team player.
“I don’t want any child who could potentially have so much talent and passion to not be able to dance because money is an issue,” she said. “Dance can open up an entire door that they had no idea was even an option of them.”
Tenth Talent is also big on student choreography and improv, or the body’s natural reactions to music. Dancers are encouraged to find their own style and create original routines, which in turn fosters confidence, self-expression and creativity. The studio performs two showcases a year – one choreographed by Fritz and the other choreographed by the students.
“I always tell them, ‘Don’t show me what you’ve learned in class. I want you to make new shapes and try something new,’” Fritz said.
Another key difference is the emphasis on students’ social-emotional health. On the first Monday of every month, Fritz gathers her students to talk about an important topic, such as the importance of positive friend groups and surrounding yourself with good people.
Fritz said she wants to be a mentor, role model and someone her students feel comfortable talking to. She also wants them to view Tenth Talent as a safe space where they’re listened to.
“It helps them in so many ways other than dance,” Fritz said. “I don’t care if you’re not the best dancer in the world, but I want you to feel welcome and appreciated every time you come in here.”
Want to learn more?
Tenth Talent is located at 3016 Old Charlotte Hwy., Monroe. Visit www.tenthtalentdance.com for information about dance classes, photography services and virtual learning day camps. Stay connected by following @tenthtalent on Instagram.