April Coghill, a professional social worker and the dance program director at The Cypress Dance Project, found her passion for dance when she was 3 years old.

“My mom was a single mom, and she couldn’t afford dance classes. I would tap in my little church shoes, just loving it, and she asked the studio next door if she could clean for me to dance,” Coghill said.

About 13 years ago, Coghill worked at a school as a social work counselor for at-risk youth and would pick up her daughter from day care after work to take her to dance classes. After dealing with the struggles of social work, she would see other children in traditional dance studios live with privileged circumstances and became determined to start a dance organization that made dance more accessible.

“I just couldn’t deal with the dichotomy of the lifestyle of children seeing how some have so little and some have so much,” Coghill said.

Coghill said she envisioned a studio where kids were instructed in proper technique with active parents and a community-oriented environment.

In 2011, she said she shared her vision with seven other parents who invested in one year of dance training. With the help of these families, she said she leased the space for the dance studio and started the nonprofit dance organization in 2012.

Classes at The Cypress Dance Project today include ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, contemporary and pointe.

Coghill said she continues with her social work profession while expanding The Cypress Dance Project as the director, an instructor and a dance mom. She also distributes two scholarships every year, which cover tuition for the recipients.

“It’s a project, so I would say that it’s getting very close to what I dreamed of when it started,” Coghill said. “But now that it’s there, it’s taking on a whole other life, and there’s so many big things to come in the future.”

Dance classes offered

The Cypress Dance Project offers a range of dance education opportunities, including:
  • POINTE: A ballet dancer supports all body weight on the tips of fully extended feet within pointe shoes.
  • JAZZ: High-energy instruction on jazz methods features big leaps, expressive footwork and quick turns.
  • TECHNIQUE: Dancers learn how to hold their bodies, point their toes, and position their feet and arms appropriately.
  • BALLET: Dancers develop coordination, flexibility, balance, discipline, proper posture and grace.
  • TAP: Tap combines ballet and jazz motions with tap shoes clattering on the floor as a form of percussion.
  • HIP-HOP: This course teaches the fundamentals of breaking, popping, boogaloo and locking.
  • COMBO: This class introduces younger students to ballet techniques in a fun, creative environment.
  • CONTEMPORARY: Expressive dance combines elements of genres, such as modern, jazz, lyrical and classical ballet.

12358 Jones Road, Houston. 281-469-4882. www.cypressdanceproject.com

Hours: Mon.-Thu. 5:30-8 p.m., closed Fri.-Sun.