CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The community has spoken, and On Stage Dance Studio has been recognized as the very best in dance education that southwest Utah has to offer – again.
On Stage was first awarded the gold medal in the 2019 Best of Southern Utah competition – an honor that local voters once again bestowed on the studio in this year’s competition – and On Stage also received the top prize in the inaugural 2020 Best of Iron County contest.
“It’s always nice to get recognition, but it’s more for our staff and our dancers for all the hard work that they put in,” owner and artistic director Heather Sprouse Madison said. “We are trying to shape our future with how we teach these kids. It’s more than just dance.”
On Stage offers tap, jazz, modern, ballet, contemporary, hip-hop and acro-tumbling for students ages 2 and up.
Madison said her mission is to provide students with a quality dance education, inspiring them to explore their passion for dance while striving to grow into outstanding people in their communities. She has more than 40 years of training in various dance styles and continues to further her education in choreography and instruction.
“The studio is much more than teaching dance; it’s much more than teaching steps,” she said. “My staff and I are really focused on being the best learners we can be. Because if we aren’t the best learners, we’re not going to be the best teachers.”
After 26 years as a studio owner, Madison has become a familiar face within Utah’s dance community. Young dancers at On Stage have the opportunity to learn from master educators across all styles of dance to prepare them for larger stages, scholarships and auditions to join professional dance companies.
“We’re constantly going out and learning so we can give these kids more opportunities, and expose them to a variety of instructors and diversity in the dance world,” she said. “Then when I have somebody that goes to New York, I know people who work in New York and dance in New York, and sometimes who you know makes a big difference.”
One of her Cedar City students is currently training at Steps on Broadway, a dance school in New York City. Another worked in Los Angeles as a professional dancer for several years, and On Stage students have received dance scholarships to Brigham Young University and danced for Disney and the Utah Jazz.
Madison started On Stage in Cedar City in 1994 as a way to put herself through college. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she ran the studio and danced competitively for Southern Utah University. She opened the St. George location in 2004 and now employs over 20 instructors between both studios.
“I don’t think people understand how much time and effort dance studio owners put into making our businesses successful,” she said, adding that everyone involved at the studio – from dancers and parents to the staff – are “really great people.”
“That’s what keeps me doing it.”
Many dancers continue to study at On Stage for a decade or more, Madison said, adding that the studio often feels like one big extended family. Former students whom she taught as young girls are now mothers who have enrolled their own daughters.
Long after the music stops, routines are forgotten and recitals become distant memories, Madison fondly recalls watching each generation of dancers grow up and the role she has been able to play in their development. She remains committed to motivating her students to find success and fulfillment in whatever they decide to do.
“That’s more what it’s about: the life lessons we put forth in the studio that give them the tools they need to go out and be a successful person, not necessarily just a dancer,” she said. “The fact that my dancers are amazing too? Well, that’s kind of the icing on the cake for me.”
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
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