What makes a dance studio great? What compels one to vote and say it is the best in the
city, perhaps one of the best in the country? I would easily say the definition is one where
Thus it is with that in mind I have to say Diamond Dance Academy in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee fits the bill. Anyone who has followed the circuit of dance studios knows the focus is winning, putting on stage the best costumes, the best routines and highlighting the studio. This is the hallmark of a successful Dance Studio and Dance team.
All of these matter very much at Diamond Academy. I am an out-of-town grandmother to one child on the dance team. I watched a little girl happy to put on a tutu and stand center stage several years ago. She needed prompting from a teacher off-stage. Now, when I attend, I see the same girl on a competitive dance team, sometimes front and center, beaming, dancing her heart out and, at times, unrecognizable, in dance and in many other ways. Diamond Academy has given her maturity, confidence and room to explore her identity.
I have had a close up of the dance studio’s philosophy from a co-owner Justin Jenkins, married to the founder Tracy. Justin has painstakingly worked with me on two large scale functions helping raise awareness and donations for Breast Cancer for Nashville’s largest walk in October for the past two years. Several of the mothers of the studio’s dance team have given of time, money and sacrifice towards this as well asking nothing in return. The reward for the Cancer Walk was huge as the added attention they brought, I am certain, increased sizeable donations.
What I have learned has shown me the focus of not only Diamond Academy but of Justin, a leader in the Studio’s mission. To give you an example, when he asked his wife’s hand in marriage, of all places, he chose the end of the year dance recital, at the final act during a dance number he choreographed to Bruno Mars, I Want to Marry You. His reasoning, he and his wife care passionately about the children they teach as people, as family and are teaching these children supporting each other in life is what matters most. It is not about just what goes on while on a stage, infact that is secondary. Love truly does make the world shine, like their love for each other.
As I watch him work with children, I see smiles, embraces, happy reinforcements. These children and even the mothers socialize together, not just dance together. With all the practices, you would think they would be sick of seeing the same faces but no, they lift each other up, in all ways. When one is hurt, they feel it and encourage their teammate to take a break and heal and the hurt team mate still shows up to cheer everyone else on! They come together as one, as their coaches and instructors mandate no matter who is on that stage, no matter who wins, who loses, or what class is being taught, everyone matters and is treated as such by everyone that walks through the doors. And it is recognized they have a life outside of dance that matters very much too!
Justin Jenkins was supposed to be interviewed locally by a radio station and a TV station during Making Strides against Breast Cancer. Time slipped away but I am hopeful in the future it will happen because his story is quite interesting. Justin use to dance professionally and toured with a group Southern Movement, hip hop and is extremely talented at both dance, choreography and as an instructor. Growing up in Memphis, TN I am sure he has plenty of interesting stories too! Getting to know Justin has been an honor and a personal blessing. What he adds to these dancers’ lives is priceless. His wife and all of the teachers embrace each individual right where they are at and tap into their unlimited potential as a human being trying to bring it all out to the surface so they can have confidence in reaching inside in the future.