The dance bag is packed with brand new ballet shoes. My favorite “beginning of the year” teaching tools are primed, and my brain is spinning with fun, new music that has just been released. Y’all, I think I am ready, even if my alarm clock is not! 😉 Back to school we go!
I am from a small town called Americus in Southwest Georgia. Even though my older, twin sisters took dance until 5th grade, the performing arts were not paramount to my family because Courtney and Whitney were definitely softball girls. We like to joke that I was born and raised playing in Georgia red clay on a softball field. I naturally followed suit by playing in our local softball league for many years; however, when my coaches and parents had to begin disciplining me for performing cartwheels in right field and for constantly perfecting my pigtail braids in the dugout, we learned that this was not for me. (Hey, I thought I was pretty ingenious turning a cartwheel with one hand in a glove! The adults were not so easily impressed…) A solid mixture of my fear for that hurtling ball, my disdain for red dirt stains on beautiful white socks, the endless hours of direct sunlight, and the inevitable shift into fast-pitch was the eventual tipping point for me. A past ball coach has since said to me, “Lauren, aren’t you glad that whole dance and pageant thing worked out for you?” Yes sir. Yes I am!
At four years old, while ambling through the mall with my parents, I saw a pair of glorious, satin pointe shoes in a store window. My sweet folks humored me, and let me pop inside to get a closer look at those ethereal, other-worldly beauties. The store clerk, for some strange reason, allowed me to try on a pair. *Note. As a dance educator, I feel it is my job to insert here: do not try this at home, kids.* As my dad held me up in those pointe shoes, I fell in love. Not long after, I took my first dance class. There were a few years of overlap between several of my afterschool activities including ballet, softball, and piano. Alas, dance won out!
My elementary, middle school and high school years were all marked by countless hours at the studio, annual performances, summer workshops, talent shows, and school dance opportunities like cheerleading. I have always been known for my height, and I spent a ton of time as a child learning to harness these long limbs. Growing up, I felt huge and lanky compared to my petit friends at school, but my height was a plus in the dance world. There, I gained so much self-confidence and I eventually grew to embrace my tall body, stand up straighter, and drop the ever-present shoulder-hunch that I used to mask my insecurities. Dance became my language, and the stage became my home.
My parents were wonderful at providing as many diversified dance experiences to me as possible. Thanks to their sacrifices, I get to say that I danced with the Moscow Ballet of Russia for 2 seasons in a row in their production of The Nutcracker in Columbus, GA. I also danced in The Nutcracker with Dance Alive! of Gainseville, FL as a child. Exposure to the grueling world of auditioning set me up for success in the next phase of my performance background…
The directors of our local Miss America preliminary pageant asked me to compete when I was 15 years old. Since part of the draw towards dance was not having to speak, I was hesitant. I was never comfortable with a microphone. After much persuading on their part, I finally entered and won Teen Miss Historic Southern Plains, which went on to Teen Miss Georgia. Even though I did not win the state title that summer, I was hooked with jazz en pointe as my talent performance. The philanthropic aspect of Miss America requires that each contestant is involved with a personal platform that she agrees to champion for her year of service. At that time, my mother was a recent breast cancer survivor, so my choice of Breast Cancer Awareness was easy. I was exposed to learning interview skills, acquiring fundraising knowledge, studying marketing techniques, having new performance experiences, observing some of our country’s brightest young female role models up close, and gaining healthy lifestyle fitness habits. Thanks to my amazing supporters and coaches, my competition the next summer landed me in the position of Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen 2006. I went on to compete at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, the little sister to Miss America. After traveling the entire state and several parts of the country that year, I knew that I wanted to be Miss America one day. While that specific dream was never realized, I did spend the next 6 consecutive years of my life competing for the title of Miss Georgia. I am proud to have been named the first-runner up twice: in 2008 and 2013. In 2008, holding hands with Chasity Hardman while we waited to hear who would be Miss Georgia, I had no idea that I was standing with the next 1st runner-up to Miss America. Throughout the entire decade that I worked towards becoming Miss America, I slowly became my best self, especially as a dancer. Did I deliver stunning, “perfect 10” dances each and every time I competed? No way. However, I did learn to be a professional. I did learn how to work hard. I did learn how to retain difficult choreography quickly. I did learn how to adapt pieces to different stages. I did travel to New York twice to learn choreography. I did learn about theatre and production. I did learn about show business. I did learn about custom costuming. I did learn how to harness and control my fear and nerves. I did learn how to channel frustrations. I did learn how to accept constructive criticism. I did learn about artistic direction. And, I did learn a whole lot about Lauren.
I owe many performance experiences to my years with the Miss America Organization. I have performed with Joey Fatone of N’SYNC and Dancing with the Stars, along with Miss America 2006 Jennifer Berry. I danced and sang for the US Army in a USO-styled show called A Salute to Our Troops. I have entertained on the Miss Georgia stage countless times, and on many other stages across the country too. I have even enjoyed modeling for Sherri Hill, Heather French Henry Miss America 2000, and Mac Duggal in New York, Atlanta and Chicago. I have been a spokesperson for various businesses and charities including the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, The American Cancer Society, and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. It truly has been a wild ride. Y’all. I come from a farm, way off the interstate in Smalltown, USA. It is my mentors, teachers, parents, family, friends, bosses and yes, even my critics that have gotten me here- to the best job on the planet!
What role do the performing arts play in my life now? Well, for starters I am a dance teacher, but you know that already! I teach on-site in many different schools for Studio Go all around Atlanta. In addition to instructing for Studio Go, I am the Artistic Director, which means I am responsible for constantly creating dance content, ensuring that our dancers are receiving the most top-notch dance education that we can provide, and coordinating our teachers all over the Southeast. I also teach ballet at several dance studios as well. I am a Production Consultant for various events. I love judging both dance competitions and Miss America local preliminary pageants in several states. I was an emcee at the Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen Finals this past summer, and I do hope to continue emceeing for Miss Georgia in the future!
We’re so excited to be back at it! Welcome to Studio Go, and welcome back for our existing dancers. Summer has come and gone, and we’re ready to get in full swing.
A few reminders from our office:
-Totes will not be distributed until September
Please note that you can buy dancewear directly from our website. All orders are placed through Curtain Call for Class. They are a very professional company, have reasonable prices, and they ship the items directly to you (generally in 2-3 business days).
Our staff had our annual Fall Meeting and Teacher’s Retreat at Lake Lanier last week. We got a lot accomplished and our teachers are well-equipped to have our best year yet. We are refreshed and ready for a brand new year!
If you have any questions, always reach out to our office. We’re here to help in any way that we can.
It’s summertime, and with that comes later nights, less responsibility, and overall, a more laidback vibe. We certainly love summer around here, but we’re already back at it and it’s one of our busier times of the year.
We’re currently working on scheduling classes, open houses, etc. Registratoins are coming in. We’re ordering supplies for the new school year, and once again, we’re revamping our syllabi. We’re constantly trying to improve. After all, learning is a lifelong endeavor.
New music is being added, teachers are being given new tools for classes, our Quality Assurance procedures are being revamped, and our private YouTube channel is being updated with new dances, warmups, activities, and more. It sure is busy over here!
We’re also welcoming 4 new staff members this year. Each one of them has an impressive background and we’re so lucky to have them on board! Ms. Aqeela, Ms. Ashley, Ms. Jill, and Ms. Kisha are sure to make little fans throughout the Metro Atlanta area.
Our Managing Director’s are working together and have exciting improvements for our markets in Charleston, Chattanooga, and Athens.
Overall, we’re pumped for the 2017-2018 school year. It’s going to be our best year yet!
Just like that: another year in the books! What a year it has been.
It’s hard to believe that we are finishing up another school year and recital season. Our “Sweets and Treats” recital theme was certainly one of the best yet! The boys and girls did such an awesome job. One major change we made this year was to hold a Studio Go Picture Day instead of having on-site photographers. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Now that recitals are complete, we can certainly say that the shows ran much smoother.
Another new addition was our Studio Go Photo Booth. We hope that you were able to snap some pictures with our fun props and capture this special moment in your child’s life. Please tag and share with us. We love to see your photos!
At the end of each year I like to reflect and celebrate. We are truly fortunate to do something that we love, all while making an impact in the lives of little ones. We take it very seriously that you entrust your children with us each week. Our staff is constantly evaluating how we can improve, and we always welcome your feedback. Please let us know how we’re doing, or if you have any suggestions.
The 2016-2017 school year was a pretty big one: We expanded to Chattanooga, TN and Athens, GA. We introduced our Studio Go totes for class, Studio Go Picture Day, Studio Go Photo Booth, our Bitty the Ballerina Doll and launched an updated syllabus.
From the bottom of my heart, and all of us at Studio Go, thank you for another great school year.