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Pandemic inspired creation of Salisbury Dance Academy

SALISBURY — A global pandemic typically isn’t the time when people decide to open a business, but don’t tell that to Spencer Ann Brown and Kristie Thomas.

After floating around the idea of opening a dance studio for several years, the two elementary school teachers got the push they needed to open Salisbury Dance Academy when COVID-19 created some free time in their schedules.

“If it wasn’t for the pandemic, we really wouldn’t have had the time we ended up having to do this and be teachers at the same,” Brown said.

Once they decided it was time to transform their idea into reality, Brown and Thomas worked to locate the space that would house their new studio. As soon as they walked into the vacant building at 204 South Main St. in Salisbury, they knew they’d found it.

“We looked at two or three places, but honestly it’s like a house — when you know, you know,” Thomas said. “We walked in and we knew.”

Spencer Ann Brown and Kristie Thomas pose in the new dance studio that they’ve dreamed of opening for several years.

Wallace Realty renovated the space before putting it on the market, but Brown and Thomas still had work to do to transform it into their ideal dance studio. The pair, along with their families and friends, spent countless hours perfecting the studio during the summer. Along with painting the walls, they constructed an entirely new wall at the front of the building to separate the studio from the lobby.

“We really got in here in April and we were in here almost every day once we got started for like eight to 10 hours a day and we didn’t finish until the beginning of June,” Brown said.

When they began offering a summer dance camp in early June, there was no shortage of customers. Both Brown and Thomas have been fixtures of the Rowan County dance community for decades. Before deciding to open Salisbury Dance Academy, they worked as dance instructors at Steppin’ Out Dance Company. Many of the same dancers who they taught at Steppin’ Out have followed them to their new venture. Having an already strong customer base has been critical to their early success.

Health guidelines have prevented Brown and Thomas from taking on as many students as they’d like to. They’ve had to limit each class size to ensure that social distancing can be practiced during dance lessons. Brown and Thomas have also spread out students over several classes to keep overall class sizes low. The pair hopes to take on more students when conditions allow.

“Of course we want to grow, but I would much rather wait until phase three and until people are more comfortable,” Thomas said. “A lot of ours that we know are coming back are really waiting for that and that’s fine with us.”

The Salisbury Dance Academy offers a variety of classes, including hip hop, ballet and tap.

The Salisbury Dance Academy offers a variety of classes, including tap, ballet and hip hop to a range of age groups. They have three instructors on staff, including Sierra Thomas, who specializes in tap, Devin Leech, who teaches hip hop, and Tara Wood, who specializes in tumbling and gymnastics.

Since Brown and Thomas teach in the Rowan Salisbury School System, they teach at the studio after school lets out. They even teach dance to some of the same students that they teach at school.

“We both have such a passion for teaching kids in general,” Brown said. “We really like getting to teach and then coming and getting to be around the kids here too.”

For more information about Salisbury Dance Academy, visit salisburydanceacademync.com or email salisburydanceacademy@yahoo.com.

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