Jaclyn Grabicki knew she wanted to start a dance school before she graduated college.
ADAMS, Mass. — After 20 years, Dancecapade School of Dance is still educating students from throughout North County.
"It's been an interesting road and I don't know if I ever imagined it would be this successful," school owner Jaclyn Grabicki said. "I love it and it is so rewarding to teach these kids something so important to me."
Bookended in the Midtown Plaza on Spring Street, Dancecapade School of Dance has taught thousands of students since its opening in 1997.
Grabicki said she started dancing at the age of 6 and soon after knew her future would somehow be tightly wound around the craft.
"I just started taking general classes and when I was little I started doing performances in my basement for my parents," she laughed. "My dad set up a curtain and I would do little recitals."
Grabicki said she honed her skills and worked as a teaching assistant at local dance schools and learned she had a knack for teaching.
Her mother, Joyce, said it was clear to her that Grabicki had a gift for teaching when one of her elementary school teachers pulled her aside and told her that her daughter was a natural.
"They had to do some kind of presentation and Jackie got up and pushed all of the desks to the side and gave the class a dance lesson," Joyce said. "The teacher told me if Jackie does not do something with teaching children she is really doing the world a disservice."
Grabicki's passion for dance coupled with her innate ability to teach inspired her to study fine and performing arts and business at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
But she couldn't stay away from dance and as a sophomore, before even graduating college, she decided to open up her own school.
"When I stopped dancing my first year of college I kind of felt like I lost something because I had so many classes," she said. "So I sat down with my parents and we talked about opening my own business."
She said she started in a one-room studio on Howland Avenue with 10 kids and quickly outgrew the space.
"As time went on, I kept generating more and more kids. I had to move to Park St. because I had 30 to 40 kids and was running out of room," she said. "I then moved here where I could have two studios side by side."
Grabicki said throughout the school's history she made sure to stay up to date with new dance styles and genres. She said she often attends classes in New York City so she can bring the newest methods and styles to Adams.
"It all changes and there are new forms that weren't around when I was starting like hip hop," Grabicki said. "I want to stay current and I've taken stuff from a lot of choreographers you see on TV and other professionals. I try to bring stuff to town that otherwise may have never made it here."
She feels this sets her apart from other schools that may focus on more classical styles such as ballet, while she tries to keep it more contemporary with hip-hop and jazz styles.
Another important part of her school is exposing her students to new experiences and glimpses into the world of professional dancing. Her competitive team attends workshops and just recently competed in Disney World.
Grabicki said dancing is certainly a sport that mixes athleticism, teamwork, rhythm and creativity.
"I think dancing is very intricate and you are using your feet, your hands, and your whole body sometimes," she said. "When you play soccer you just use your feet. In some forms of dance, you have to be aware of your body lines and you have to make sure you are in the exact right place."
She said beyond learning lessons that often come along with being on a sports team such as teamwork and good practice habits, dance often helps her students come into their own.
"A lot of times kids will come here and they will be shy and won't say much and then a couple of years go by and that same child is outgoing," she said. "Seeing that progression and being part of that is very rewarding."
"I've had some of these kids for 15 years and to see them grow into young adults and to be part of that makes me feel good."
She added that it is important to her to have a dance school with a safe environment that fosters creativity and allows students to truly explore dance and express themselves.
"I want them to be comfortable with themselves and be able to express themselves when they are here," she said. "This should be a place that if they are angry one day or sad they can let go."
Grabicki said she wants to continue to expand her school and keep on her current trajectory.
"I just want this to keep growing," she said.
Dancecapade School of Dance will soon open for fall registration. Parents can sign their kids up at the studio Aug. 14, 15 and 16 from 5 to 7 p.m.
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