Dream Makers Dance named ‘Most Inspirational Studio’

COLUMBIANA – Dream Makers Dance, based out of Columbiana, was recently named “Most Inspirational Studio” at the 2017 Inspire National Dance Competition from June 26 through July 2, in Savannah, Georgia. Director Jenny Lespi said the studio was selected out of about 300 studios that competed.

Dancer Shae Brown said she believes Dream Makers won “Most Inspirational Studio” due to their positivity on and off the stage, sportsmanship and support for fellow dancers.

“We work really hard around here to build up a certain reputation. People know the hearts and compassions that our dancers have,” Brown said. “For our dancers, it doesn’t matter what studio you’re from. We all have the same passion.”

Parents and dancers said Dream Makers dance is a small studio, and its branch in Columbiana regularly holds its practices at Elvin Hill Elementary School.

“We come from a small place, but we went all the way over there,” dancer Hannah Patterson said.

“It means a lot that this is a small studio. They dance in a gym. There’s not a barre and there’s not a mirror,” parent Angie Driskell said. “They come here every week and they leave their hearts on this gym floor. People see their hearts when they dance.”

Several of the dancers who participated remarked that winning felt good, but that was not the main focus for them.

“We don’t just try win an award on purpose,” Gracie Driskell said. “We try to just be who we are and it inspires people.”

“Being honored as inspirational helps us realize that we make an impact wherever we go,” Brown said.

For Lespi, the goal of Dream Makers is to provide her dancers with a haven where they can comfortably express themselves through dance.

“You never know someone else’s heart and stories, and this group has a lot of stories,” Lespi said. “This is a place where they can come and pour them out on the dance floor.”

Many dancers credited Lespi and other teachers for their constant guidance and encouragement during every practice.

“We have amazing teachers. It’s always exciting to come here after school,” Kaili Williams said.

“We came here when we were younger, and we didn’t always know what to do,” Victoria Farish said. “[Lespi] has always believed in us and she’s gotten us this far.”

All of the 17 Dream Makers dancers who competed performed solos, duets or group dances. In addition to being named “Most Inspirational Studio,” six dancers were also a part of a larger group that performed before the competition’s awards ceremony. Brown and Gracie Driskell both won the people’s choice award and best precision for their dance and Lespi was recognized as the most inspirational dance teacher.