In Step Dance & Performing Arts Center

Ballet classes are a popular option at the studio, with students taking an exam to move up each ballet level.

Ballet classes are a popular option at the studio, with students taking an exam to move up each ballet level.

In Step Dance & Performing Arts Center offers a large selection of arts under its roof, from ballet and Chinese traditional dance classes to piano and voice classes.


Owner Dana Loving-Sparks said the 22-year-old studio on Sawdust Road in The Woodlands area has been a long-standing arts school for past and present generations due to the amount of classes the center offers.


“The most unique thing about us is that we have so much to offer in one location,” Sparks said. “Parents can have one child in a guitar lesson and the child’s sibling can be taking a dance class. I feel like that’s what makes us stand out. We’re not just a drill team school or a ballet school—we’re a true performing arts center that offers everything.”


Sparks, who has been owner of the performing arts center for the past 17 years, said dance classes offered at the center include jazz, modern, hip-hop, ballet, tap, Middle Eastern belly dancing and pre-dance, which is for students ages 3 and 4 to help develop coordination and balance. Private ballroom dancing classes are also an option for adults. A new circus arts class is also available this year and includes tumbling and aerial silk skills. Music lessons at the arts academy include piano, guitar, violin and voice.


“We teach all the way up,” Sparks said. “We have one lady who is 80 years old who takes Middle Eastern belly dancing. So we have adult classes as well. It is never too late to start dancing.”


Sparks also designed a Princess Program for children ages 2 and 3. The program is 10 weeks long, costs $199 per student and always has a special theme.


“We utilize the entire program for learning creative movement, balancing, coordination and discipline, and this gets them prepared for pre dance class, which is the next step up,” Sparks said. “This month it has been a circus theme. The program is to see if dance is something they want to do rather than commit for the entire year.”


Another program Sparks developed that makes the school unique is the Jeweled program for ballet classes. Students enrolled in ballet classes must take an exam to move up to the next class, and they receive a different color belt for each class. Belts begin at pink, and students can make their way up to receive a platinum belt.


“It’s important to have incentives for kids to continue dance; we want them to have something to look forward to,” Sparks said.


For students who not only want to dance but also compete, a competition and performance team is also an option at the studio. If students audition and are accepted, they join the studio’s dance company that participates in a variety of events and competitions each year in the Houston area, including performing every holiday at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston, Texas Children’s Hospital and a benefit concert every year to raise funds for ovarian cancer awareness. 


Sparks said while the studio has been successful over the past two decades on Sawdust Road—and also at its other location she opened last year inside the World Champions Centre Gym on Birnham Woods Drive in Spring—she is not planning on expanding the dance studio anymore as of right now.


“Right now, since it is [the] first year of being at Birnham Woods, we’re going to stay there and continue,” she said. “But you never know what is going to happen in the future.”


Sparks said there is a monthly tuition for all scheduled classes and the more classes students take, the bigger the discount they will receive. Discounts are also available for CISD employees, people in the military, college students and large families. For students who would like to take a dance class with Sparks, she is teaching jazz, tap and pre-dance this semester.