Professional dancer shares love of performance

A desire to see serious dancers prepared for a professional career at an affordable cost led Sky-Marie McDonald to form a nonprofit studio focusing on dance, visual arts, music, stage makeup and costume building in Southlake.

In 2012 the professionally trained dancer started Early Spring Arts Conservatory, which operates under the umbrella of the Enclave of the Arts, a larger, Christian organization dedicated to advancing the arts.

"My goal was to do something with dance that really made a difference—to cause people to look at something they didn't realize was there," McDonald said. "I want to be able to open the locked doors in people's hearts they might not realize even have a lock."

Students receive instruction at a fraction of the cost most for-profit dance studios charge. For those in need, the studio also offers scholarships—mostly funded by McDonald.

McDonald and a team of professional instructors, who are sometimes paid, or sometimes volunteer their time, lead the lessons. The studio has had as many as 90 students and is in a building phase after changing locations to the 280 Sports Complex at 280 Commerce St. in April.

Events such as the upcoming "The Wizard of Oz" performance and a gala ball are held as fundraisers to back the studio's operating costs, scholarships and equipment expenses. The studio is always looking for event sponsors, McDonald said.

Students, who are generally between the ages of 7 and 16, can choose from a number of dance styles to learn, including classical modern dance, classical ballet, hip-hop and Jazz. She said the studio's smaller classes of five to eight students enable teachers to focus on each dancer's form and proper technique.

McDonald is also beginning a free adaptive dance pilot program intended to help children with differing abilities to reach their artistic potential and push as far as they are able to go—whether that means performing in New York City for one student or being able to perform from a wheelchair for another. The studio is actively looking for participants.

Off to see the Wizard

About 30 dancers will take part in the studio's upcoming performance of "The Wizard of Oz."

June 20, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

$17 for adults, $12 for children 12 and under.

Palace Theater, 300 S Main St., Grapevine

Email [email protected] for information on how to purchase tickets or to sponsor the show.

Early Spring Arts Conservatory

280 Commerce St., Southlake, 817-823-0684,