September 2013

A Dancer for Life

Author: Michael Paskevich

Dawn Rosa Miller has reason to be dancing for joy. Enrollment at her Bluffton School of Dance now tops more than 300 toddlers-to-teens for the first time, as today’s youngsters grow increasing excited about the essential art of movement thanks to mass media exposure. Whether her young charges are learning cool new moves as part-time recreation or with an eye toward a professional future, Miller says they’re getting benefits that will last a lifetime.

“You can always spot a dancer when they walk in the room,” Miller said. “They have such great posture—that’s an issue today, because girls are growing taller and spending so much time hunched over a computer. But it’s also about an air of confidence and self-respect,” she added, “and dancing helps instill responsibility at an early age. We even expect our (pre-school) twinklers to remember what we tell them and pass it along to their parents.”

It’s also healthy fun, of course, and owner Miller and fellow instructors guide students through disciplines ranging from ballet and jazz to modern, tap and “acro,” a popular new format that blends tumbling with dance. The school offers specialized after-school classes for boys and girls ages 2-18 with a majority enjoying their sessions at the recreation level.

“These are the kids that come anywhere from one- to four-times a week depending on their commitment,” she said, “and they don’t travel or do local shows. Usually these are kids involved with other sports plus school, so they only have so much time.”

A new and growing performance level provides what Miller calls “a stepping stone” for more promising dancers who don the dance school’s lime-and-black outfits and show off their skills in performances at parades and other community events. There’s also a top-level company category that includes about 40 youngsters who travel to regional performances and national competitions. “That requires a commitment from the entire family,” Miller said. “It’s just like having a kid who plays on a travel ball team.”

Miller credits media for a recent student surge at the studio she’s run for more than a decade. “Dance is everywhere thanks to TV shows like Dancing with the Stars, more dance in movies and even books like the Angelina Ballerina series,” she said. “It’s much more in your face and seems more attainable today. When I was growing up you either went to college or went into dance. Now you can have it all, maybe take a break and go dance on a cruise ship before you go back to school.”

New Jersey native Miller grew up watching great dance companies on trips to New York City and earned a Clemson degree before settling in Bluffton to share her love of dance and the benefits it brings. “My favorite thing is that you learn to take criticism without it hurting inside,” she said. “You have to stand there, make eye contact and take corrections so you’ll keep training and be better the next time. That’s the point of dance, and once it’s in your blood it’s hard to escape.”

Bluffton School of Dance is located at 59D Sheridan Park Circle (Sheridan Business Park off Highway 278), with classes Monday-Thursday (3-8:30 p.m.) and Saturday mornings. For more information, call (843) 815-2619 or visit online at

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