Many small steps

Dance Warehouse provides classes for youngsters

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Creating The Dance Warehouse of Sealy six years ago was a way for Erika Burttschell to continue doing what she was so passionate about in high school.
“I was on the drill team in high school and I’ve been dancing since I was three years old,” she said.
Now she teaches children to not only follow in her footsteps but to pursue their own dreams through dance. From tumbling toddlers to the graceful and snappy ballet and tap dancers, Burttschell and her staff offer a wide range of dance options for children of all ages.
Tumbling teacher Brandy Green followed a similar path to the The Dance Warehouse. The former cheerleader and lifelong dancer joined the studio last year and teaches four classes – one for 3- to 5-year-olds and three for older children. She teaches the little ones everything from cartwheels and handstands to flexibility and strength conditioning.
Green had been working at a competition cheerleading school in Brenham when she learned about an opening at Burttschell’s studio.
“I jumped right on it,” she said. “I missed it so much!”
Marsha Merrell has been teaching ballet and tap-dancing lessons for about 40 years. She joined The Dance Warehouse about four years ago after her husband, Lloyd Merrell, was hired as Sealy’s city manager and they moved here from The Woodlands.
“I love teaching the kids, especially the special needs kids,” she said.
For all three women, operating the studio is all about caring for the children.
“A dance teacher isn’t just a dance teacher, we’re moms, therapists, baby sitters … whatever we need to be,” Burttschell said.
Quite often they have to help children escape the struggles of reality and enter a happy place for a while.
“You might be it for them that day or that week,” Merrell said.
As dance instructors, the women said they enjoy watching the children blossom as the master new skills and grow in confidence and ability.
“It makes you feel good to see them grow and learn new things,” Green said.
“I love seeing them learn,” Burttschell said. “Everything we teach them we get to watch them do.”
“I give them what I didn’t have when I was learning – what I wish I knew,” said Merrell, who is known by her young learners as Miss Marshmallow.
“It’s my name, Marsha Merrell, it sounds like marshmallow,” she said. “I throw marshmallows at the kids when they leave.”
Even though the studio is only six years old, Burttschell has been teaching longer than that.
“The captain of the high school drill team, I’ve had her dancing with me now 10 years, since she was in the third grade,” she said.
At The Dance Warehouse, students can learn everything from tumbling to hip-hop, tap, ballet, lyrical, and drill team prep. There is also the Chance to Dance class for special needs students. Burttschell said she is willing to offer additional classes if the demand is there.
“I’m always willing to try new things,” she said.
Burttschell said her dance studio has been growing each year and she someday wants to expand it.
“I hope to be around for another 20 years or so,” she said. “We’d love to keep growing. Every year we’ve increased by about 20 to 25 kids.”
Although juggling summer schedules is tough for families, Burttschell wants to expand summertime offerings at The Dance Warehouse.
“I don’t want a kid sitting home bored when they could be here,” she said.
Another avenue of growth she hopes to tap is the male market. Right now her clientele is mostly female, but she does have two male high school students who are serving as role models for young boys. She hopes that will catch on.
Merrell noted that a lot of professional athletes take ballet to help them with balance, coordination, conditioning and to improve their leaping ability.
For more information about The Dance Warehouse, visit http://dancewarehousesealy.com.

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