The door on Bessie Waddill’s dance studio is hot pink. It’s a visitor’s first clue about the fun and energetic vibe inside. Open that door, and you’ll see little girls dancing in front of mirrors and orange and green walls paired with sparkly vinyl tile and a purple floor.
Waddill, a Woodrow Wilson High School graduate, has degrees in both child psychology and human and organizational development from Nashville’s Vanderbilt University, so this could be why she has taken on the task of opening her studio to children as young as 2, which is not necessarily common in the world of dance.
“A lot of dance studios don’t teach 2-year-olds because they can’t really do anything,” Waddill says. “My 2-year-olds, we just go slow, and there is a lot of motor development. I just wanted the kids to get in there and get used to me, and I am their first teacher because they have not even gone to preschool yet.”
Waddill herself has been singing and dancing since she was 3 years old and stayed with it for 15 years. From the very beginning, she began taking classes at the well-known Cherrilane School of Dance, a studio founded in 1983 by Cherri Lane. Lane remembers Waddill well and says she’s more than capable.
“She is effervescent and bubbly and definitely a cheerleader personality. She likes people and she loves kids,” Lane says.
When Waddill decided to open Studio B, she immediately went to her old dance teacher for advice.
“I encouraged her to go for it,” Lane says, “but to make sure she really was doing it for the proper reason, which was to teach the kids the love of dance and not just trying to make a fast buck.”
During the summer, the two talked a lot about Waddill’s idea, and a studio was born. Currently, Studio B has 17 classes and lessons ranging from dancing and musical arts to ballet, tap and jazz.
From the beginning, Waddill had no doubts where she would open her studio — it had to be here, she says. In return, she has received more than she expected in support.
“The neighborhood is great,” she says, “I have 130 students in my classes, and all but one live in Lakewood.”
Kari Hernandez, the mother of a 3-year-old boy taking Waddill’s music and movement class, says she couldn’t be happier about Studio B.
“Bessie is loving and caring, and parents feel safe leaving their children with her,” Hernandez says. “People like the studio so much, really because it is Bessie.”
Part of Waddill’s love for musical art also stems from the fact that, during her high school years, she was very involved in Woodrow Wilson’s musicals. She still is, most recently helping the musical choreographer during auditions and giving pointers in regard to the show choir choreography.
Perhaps Waddill’s greatest dream is to someday see her own students dancing and singing on stage the way she did in high school. Her students currently range from two to 10 years old, but she plans to expand the studio as they grow up. As that happens, Lane says, she hopes to join her former dance student’s endeavors.
“I would love to be teaching for Bessie someday,” she says. “I would rather be teaching for her than anybody else.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact Studio B at 2108 Kidwell, 214-826-3800.
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