August 2012

On Pointe: The Passion to Teach

Author: Kitty Bartell

The legendary Lyudmila Sakharova, former artistic director of the Perm School of Dance in Russia, said, “A teacher must possess many qualities: firmness and softness, patience and perseverance and sturdiness. But above all is love for children, desire to train them up—all of them, both weak and strong. And, creativity in one’s approach to one’s task is also above all.” Sakharova could have been speaking directly about Dawn Rosa, owner, president, and artistic director of Bluffton School of Dance and Performing Arts.

Meeting Rosa, I would not have blamed her if she were wearing a tiara and held a scepter in her hand. Less than 48 hours earlier, she had been “crowned” Teacher of the Year, the evening of July 10, at the Tremaine Dance national convention finals gala in Orlando. This teacher is making a loud noise in the world of dance by winning this prestigious award at the young age of 31.

“I didn’t have a clue. Previous winners were so far along in their careers,” Rosa said. “It was almost like a lifetime achievement award, and I feel like I’m on the other side. We’re just really getting started.”

Rosa inherently speaks like a wise old sage, imparting insights and perspectives many twice her age could not. At Bluffton School of Dance, it all begins with the teachers. “Teaching with passion is contagious. The kids don’t even realize they’re learning. That is the only kind of teacher we hire here. It has to ooze. If the teacher is going into the class just as excited as the kids, you just can’t miss,” Rosa said.

“I’m one of those lucky people who got that inkling of something I was supposed to be doing and then was brave enough to follow it. I understand how rare that is and how lucky I am,” Rosa said of her roles as tough teacher, patient second mom, and strong businesswoman.

The school offers classes for students ages two through adult. “We’re very proud of our preschool program—getting them to use their gross motor skills and fostering the love of dance at such an early age,” Rosa said. Classes are available to meet the skill level and time requirements for almost any student. Options include ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, drama, acro, zumba, and company/competition programs.

The school’s company is a dedicated group of dancers who are nominated by their teachers to try out for the group as young as age five. Members represent the school at competitions and performances, locally and nationally. This year’s company earned three first and three second place finishes and one scholarship at the National Convention Finals. Rosa speaks proudly of former company members Katherine Stanas, who now dances with Carnival Cruise Line, and Ruthie Trask, who will attend Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles this fall to study dance. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of dance. There are so many options for these kids,” Rosa said.

Rosa is the embodiment of the creative, patient, and firm teacher that Sakharova described. As she stood to accept her Teacher of the Year Award and have her picture taken with the gala’s honorees, including dance and choreography greats, Debbie Allen, Kenny Ortega, and Dee Dee Wood, the kids at the school were foremost in her mind. “It will be an exciting year and I hope it rubs off on my kids,” she said. 

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Classes resume August 17. Visit during their Open House on August 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to register, meet the teachers, purchase dancewear, and enjoy refreshments.

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