Dance Avenue draws a regular civic center crowd


Hugh McMillan

Dance Avenue owner Julie Miller leads a beginning ballet class during a Tuesday session at the Key Peninsula Civic Center. Photo by Hugh McMillan, KP News

A collection of moms and dads were at the Key Peninsula Civic Center cheering on their daughters as they twirled and pranced on the dance floor.

Something exciting has been happening on Tuesdays. Dance Avenue as been drawing inspiring dancers to the area hot spot for more than a year.

Dance Avenue owner, Julie Miller who has lived on the Key for more than eight years has three children of her own and decided to take a leap of faith in her own backyard.

“Knowing how adorable it is to have your little girl twirl around and dance,” Miller said she first started looking into area dance studios a couple years ago.

She found a spot and her daughter had a great time, but with the long commute to the studio, she couldn't commit to going, she said.

“Having a professional dance background, I knew we needed something here on the Key,” Miller said.

In January 2011, a friend's parents offered their studio apartment to start a small class.

“We did ballet and jazz and had a blast,” said Miller.

Wanting more space for more kids, she started Dance Avenue at the civic center in January 2012. By March, 48 kids were enrolled and she even had a waiting list.

“Some students performed at KP Liveable Community Fair, the Krazy Key Parade, and at the Keyfest talent show earned a first place,” she said.

By the smiles filling the room during a recent Tuesday session, it appears Dance Avenue is a hit for the parents as well as the dancers.

“My daughter Maris Johnson is in Julie Miller's ballet/tap class, and she absolutely loves it,” said Amanda Walston. “She likes the class better than any dance class ever. I'm thrilled to have a teacher who genuinely cares about the kids she teaches as well as the art of dance.”

Zoe Stitt, 5, said she likes dancing and likes to roar like a lion and to make a train. Her sister Mia Stitt, 7, said she loves, “learning new dance routines and moves. It's fun to warm up and do our jazz walks.”

The center was abuzz with motion and great comments about the class.

“We've really enjoyed having such a great class so close to home,” said Melissa Hansen. “Julie is amazing with the kids.”

Classes are held on Tuesdays in the center’s Whitmore Room and vary from introductory dance for preschoolers to ballet, tap and jazz/hip hop for older students.

“We are having a dance recital on June 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Key Peninsula Civic Center with real costumes this year. The kids are so excited. If anyone is interested they could come and watch,” Miller said.

For information, call (253) 606-3763.