Generations of dancers have swept in and out of Burns Dance Studio over the last 31 years. But one of them stuck around.
Corey Burns, the son of studio owner Rhoda Burns and a teacher with the studio for 25 years, soon will be stepping up to a higher position.
“I will officially start (as the studio director) on July 1,” he said.
But before they get there, Rhoda and Corey have a few things to work out.
The initial decision was not an easy one. The idea came up in August. Since then, Corey had to discuss it with his wife and children, and Rhoda had to prepare to let her position – one she’s held since day one – go.
But, in the end, it is one all decided was the right choice.
“It’s carrying on the Burns name, and he’s a Burns,” Rhoda said. “I always said to people ... if I can find someone who can carry on this business as good, if not better, then, yeah, I would step aside, but I never thought it would be him.”
Corey has already come up with new ideas for the studio.
“We are going to expand to have a boys-only classes, to have more adult classes,” Corey said. “I would like to see a program for special needs classes, just because I really enjoyed it (when) I had a chance to work with some of those kids.”
Rhoda also mentioned a more-fitness based program in the works called Fit For Kids that she would like to see launched at least by next summer.
They would like to add more interior windows. That way, interested parents can come and see the classes, and parents who might feel a little odd having Corey be a teacher can watch, too.
Rhoda will not be leaving. She will be there at least four times a week, still with the preschool program and to help guide Corey with the studio as he settles in.
“Pretty much (the information) she has is in her head,” Corey said. “So I’m steadily trying to talk to her about, ‘OK, how did we do this?’ or ‘Who is the vendor for that?’”
Corey will also be able to bring in his own experiences. He has worked within the Aiken County school system for well over a decade, before becoming the principal of Saluda Primary in 2008. He started the USC Aiken dance team in 1995 and still works with them today. He has taught and performed at conventions, as well as choreographed for high school teams, pageants, plays, weddings and banquets. He has also contributed to past “Dancing with the Aiken Stars” shows and Aiken Women’s Heart Board benefits.
“I’ve been dancing since I was 12,” he said.
“He’s been actually been dancing since he was 4,” Rhoda said, smiling a bit.
“There’s a lot of a parallels of running a school and running a dance studio,” Corey said. “(There’s) making sure systems are up and running, classes are covered, dealing with the dynamics of different faculty members. ... Another aspect of running a school is being in budget; you have to have some financial sense.”
When Corey gets out of school in June, he and Rhoda will sit down and plan out the new schedule. They will advertise them in time for fall registration, which starts on Aug. 6. Fall classes will start back on Aug. 26.
The summer session begins on June 15; Corey will start his new role in the middle of that session.
“She opened the business while I was in the fourth grade, and now, my son is in the fourth grade,” he said. “I was brought up here, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Rhoda has taught mothers and, later, their daughters. She teaches children as young as 3. Some of them even go on to be dance teachers themselves.
The girls at her studio learn anything from tap, jazz, ballet to hip-hop and contemporary dance. The performing company goes to dance conventions every year and has been pretty successful; just walk in the studio for a peek at the amount of awards.
“You build a studio, and you never think you are going to be able to leave it to your children,” Rhoda said, tearing up a bit at the thought. “All of a sudden things just kind of change.”
Rhoda acknowledges her “fabulous staff,” a couple of whom she has taught.
“We are just going to keep dancing, so to speak,” Rhoda said, about the changes.
Burns Dance Studio is at 831 Neilson Road.
For more information on its staff or programs, visit www.burnsdancestudio.com or call 803-648-7659 or 803-270-1438.
Aiken Standard file photo Since 1995, dance teacher Corey Burns has assisted USC Aiken dance team coach Angie Osbon in training team members. Burns will be taking over the running of Burns Dance Studio from his mother, Rhoda Burns, on July 1.×