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Shawnee dance company sees success after opening new studio

July 8, 2019

SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — For the last 20 years, business owner and lover of dance, Aonisty Parks, has taught the craft to students of all ages at DreamCatchers Dance and Tumbling Company and will continue teaching in her new studio.

According to Parks, in April she found her new building and it’s nearly twice as large compared to her older studio and has many new features including free wifi.

“We have 6,600 square feet right now. We were at about 2,000 square feet in the old place and how I’ve designed this is so that it can function as a convention type facility and then we also have two studios in the back. We’ve got more bathrooms now and then we have a full kitchen and coffee bar for our parents,” Parks told The Shawnee News-Star.

The Director of DreamCatchers explained she has had an appreciation for dance her whole life and she always felt she was meant to teach others.

“So the company itself was basically just born out of my passion. I feel like God created me to have a dance company, gave me a lot of patience and a lot of motivation and made me a very driven person and every morning I pray that I can be whatever I need to be to our dance families,” Parks said.

DreamCatchers offers a variety of dance classes for dancers ages 18 months all the way up to adults.

“We teach everything from ballet, tap, lyrical, jazz, contemporary, (and) hip hop,” Fly Girls Director Brooke Leatherwood said.

In addition, DreamCatchers has a competition program and an elite program for dancers who want to pursue the craft professionally.

“So basically we want to be whatever people need us to be. We want something for everybody including special needs dancers (or) dancers with disabilities. We kind of welcome anyone that has a passion for dance,” Parks said.

Parks explained a few weeks ago DreamCatchers went to the StageOne National Dance Competition in Branson, Missouri. Parks said the Line team won their division as well as 14-year-old soloist Teegan Franklin and there were multiple runners up. The company entered a total of 32 dance numbers.

For Franklin, were it not for her teachers at DreamCatchers, she never would have won her national title.

“I love how passionate the teachers are about dancing and how much they love on us,” Franklin said.

Parks explained she enjoys seeing her students succeed and perform their dances.

“I love watching it and seeing art come to life,” Parks said.

Other teachers at DreamCatchers share Parks appreciation for the craft and have also been dancing most of their lives.

Leatherwood explained she was a professional dancer and now is fond of seeing her students pursue the same path.

“I’ve come full circle from growing up in it, training super hard, being a professional dancer and now getting to instruct and seeing everything from the passion and the process and the hard work and then getting to perform on stage and knowing what those girls are feeling. It’s just this sense of pride. I just love it and I can feel them just radiating that same love that I’ve always had,” Leatherwood said.

Recreational Director Cami Sayre said it’s amazing to watch children take their first class and grow into talented artists.

“I love seeing babies walk in for the first time and seeing their eyes light up whenever they do their first turn or kick and then after you see them work hard for years at one trick and all of a sudden they do this big leap across the floor and you can just see the lightbulb come on. It gives you goose bumps every time,” Sayre said.

Administrative Director Teri Shipley said dance is a way for students to be expressive and grow in confidence.

“I love getting to see the kids get to be themselves and do something that they grow to love,” Shipley said.

Parks said people have responded very well to the new studio and enrollment in summer dance camps has increased drastically.

“I have to say the community response has been overwhelming. I’m a small town girl and I have really big dreams. I love the fact that we were unloading furniture outside and every car that (went) by (honked) at us. Just so much love and so much support,” Parks said.

It was Parks’ mother who came up the name of the company and the studio, Parks said because she was following her dream of opening her own company.

The dance teacher said she is happy that DreamCatchers is able to provide a better place for dancers and their parents.

“We’re a family. We’re very close to our dancers and so for (parents) to just be able to come in and be comfortable and become great friends that’s this huge blessing I’ve seen,” Parks said.

Parks said Phase One of her three phase plan is complete and as time goes on she hopes to complete Phase Two, which is building a cheer gym and Phase Three which is making the studio a wedding venue.

The fall dance season starts August 19.

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Information from: The Shawnee News-Star, http://www.news-star.com