The voices of children will continue to be heard in an iconic downtown Elkin location known for 40 years for its rhythm and moves, despite the long-time studio gaining a new name, a new owner and a new location in the area.
Rhythm on Main owner Will Shover announced this week that the studio that his parents, Nanette Bennett and Jim Shover, opened in 1977 as Dance Upstairs will be changing hands as he leaves the ownership role to focus on Dance Machine Productions, a second business he operates with Don Hudson.
Kristy Woodruff Neely, who was trained under Shover and his parents and has served as director of the dance studio for the last two years, is taking over the studio under the new name, Kristy’s Dance Academy, after Rhythm’s annual recital at Elkin High School on June 2. Its new location will be at 238 N. Bridge St. in Jonesville.
“I am so excited for Kristy in this endeavor and know she will do great things,” Shover said. “She is ready for this opportunity. She is an awesome dance teacher and director, that’s why she was voted Best Dance Teacher by the readers of The Tribune.”
He and his parents expressed thanks to residents in the Yadkin Valley for their years of support.
Dance Machine Productions, which was founded in 2001, is an event production company that operates three brands of dance competitions and conventions on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Shover said the company is where his attention and energy needs to be directed.
The changes for the dance studio have opened up an expanded relocation site for the Yadkin Valley Community School, which has seen continuous growth since it opened in 2014 and will be adding middle-school grades to its program in the fall, explained Kimberly Seipel-Parks, president of the YVCS Board. The school will relocate to the Rhythm on Main building at 246 E. Main St.
“I love that the building will still be a place where young minds are learning and expanding, and it’s a chance to be a part of the expansion of the community school by repurposing the building to provide the community with yet another great opportunity for children,” Shover said. “It gives me a warm heart at the conclusion of this chapter of my life.”
“This is a very exciting step for us,” said Seipel-Parks. “The new building will allow for multiple classrooms, a MakerSpace, a library/computer lab, STEAM (science technology engineering arts mathematics) activities and much more.
“We will also have a great student-designed outdoor classroom. Designing the outdoor classroom will be a lot of fun for the children and will give them ownership of the new space. And just as they did for our current location, they kids will be asked to do a lot problem-solving and to roll up their sleeves to do the planting and building,” she said.
YVCS was founded on the principles of Montessori education and the belief that children are naturally eager and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared environment, explained school officials in a news release. The school’s “approach values development of the whole child — physical, social, emotional, cognitive.”
Since opening four years ago, the school has more than doubled in size. “In order to serve the number of children applying for the upcoming year, it became clear that we would need more space to accommodate our growing classrooms and programming,” said Stacey Libbert, YVCS board member.
In addition to increasing classroom space, the new move will create room for the addition of a middle-school program for seventh and eighth grades. “Several of our parents, including myself, have been so happy with the experiences their children have had, they wanted us to continue through middle school,” Libbert said.
School officials said the move “into a lower and upper school is a natural next step for a school based on multi-age groupings.”
“The students will still have time that they can all be together, upper and lower grades, and it will still include group lessons, field trips, circle time and recess,” Libbert said. “One of the things we are most proud of is the way our younger children learn from the older children, and our older children reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered. This mirrors the real world because adults work and socialize with people of all ages and personalities all the time.”
The rising middle-schoolers will have lessons designed specifically for them as well to aid in the transition between elementary and high school. Those lessons and activities will include special field trips, community service projects, collaborative learning and research-based projects, new electives and challenging, integrative lessons that are relevant and encourage deep exploration and curiosity, school officials said.
Recently, seven of this year’s fifth- and sixth-graders traveled to Wake Forest University for the regional middle school Science Olympiad competition, which hosted 16 high school and 15 middle school teams from the region.
“I always think it’s interesting to look at real-world results — this year the YVCS middle school kids went up against over 300 other students from 15 other pretty highly regarded private, charter and public schools,” said Rob Libbert, YVCS parent and Science Olympiad coach. “Every one of our students placed either first, second or third in events they competed in. While that’s pretty impressive, it’s even more impressive when you realize all of our students are sixth-graders — the youngest in the competition.”
School officials also are excited to be able to remain in the downtown Elkin community, where students can be found walking to the local yoga studio, library, trails and arts council. “The staff believes in the importance of teaching community awareness and meeting and interacting with people of all ages,” the news release stated.
That has aided in the school’s success. “The community has been very supportive, and I feel confident that they will continue to be as we move into our new building on Main Street,” said Seipel-Parks. “This space is going to be amazing, and we look forward to continuing and expanding our partnership with friends and neighbors.”
The Yadkin Valley Community School has partnered with Rhythm on Main since the school opened. The dance studio has provided free dance classes for the students for three years.
“We have always enjoyed being in that space for dance,” said Seipel-Parks. “It is the perfect spot for our school, and Will Shover is glad the kids will continue to be in the building.”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.