Faces of Fairfax City: Tiny Dancers
Do you have a burgeoning little performer who’s also a ball of energy? Tiny Dancers is a family-owned dance studio that provides a safe, secure, and nurturing environment to help kids develop their creative, artistic, and athletic abilities. All while having fun and making new friends!
Tiny Dancers was started by a mom 20 years ago who wanted to share the joy of dance with other children. She believes that the developmental needs of young learners are different than adults and older students. Young children learn better in a smaller, creative, and more nurturing environment. The classes at Tiny Dancers are small with teachers who are fun, dedicated, and supportive.
Tiny Dancers will have their 20th Anniversary in September! Check their website (https://www.tinydancers.com/) for special offerings and activities!
Tell us a little about Tiny Dancers.
Tiny Dancers is more than just a ballet school, it’s a specialized program for children ages 2-12. Our family-owned studios feature a literacy-based ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and musical theater program that provides young dancers with an outstanding technical foundation in a fun and nurturing environment. Beginning with our exclusive ‘Wiggletoes’ classes for toddlers ages 2-3 and continuing throughout the program, students are encouraged to learn through creative self-expression, exploration of movement and age-appropriate choreography.
What makes Tiny Dancers unique in Fairfax City?
Unlike most dance studios where they teach all ages from 2 to 95, we specialize in teaching young children. Part of that specialty is understanding the cognitive, emotional and social development of these young dancers. This has been especially important during and emerging from the pandemic lock downs and closings. Recognizing and meeting these developmental needs is one of the key differences between our program and the many others available.
What encouraged you to take the leap and get started?
We started in 2001. Dance has been a part of my life since I was around 3, and once my own kids were either in high school or off to college, it presented a perfect opportunity for a second act and a chance to share the joy of dance with young children. I just took the leap and never looked back.
What inspired you to open a business in Fairfax City?
The small town feel of Fairfax mixed with a culture that’s supportive of the arts made it great location for a dance studio. We found a space to sublet first in a church basement, then in a Tae Kwon Do studio and soon thereafter, we moved to our current location on Main Street.
What do you enjoy most about having a business in Fairfax City?
It retains the small town feel and cultural awareness that first attracted us to Fairfax City when we opened. I feel like I know the students, their moms and their siblings who wait (mostly) patiently during class. It becomes a community unto its own. It’s such a thrill when children who danced with us years ago return to visit as high school or college students.
How has Tiny Dancers changed since its opening?
Our mission to provide quality dance education to young dancers has remained our North Star. But we’ve grown beyond any expectations we had when we first opened. Starting out in a church basement with about 30 kids, we then moved to a sub-let Tae Kwon Do studio and shortly thereafter, to our current space where we grew to almost 200 students. In 2006 we started to expand, opening several more studios in the area and just before the pandemic, were teaching over 1000 dancers each week. When the pandemic hit, we quickly pivoted to virtual classes, then beginning in the summer of 2020, operated at 30% in-studio capacity until June, when we increased capacity to 60% for our summer program. Even this fall, we made the decision to continue to operate below our pre-pandemic class size to make sure we do our part to keep everyone healthy. We’ve also kept our virtual program for those families who are not able to join us in person. In order to survive during the pandemic, we basically had to re-make the business and now, remake it again as we rebuild while keeping our dancers and staff safe.
What do clients say they love about Tiny Dancers?
Parents love our small class size and the individual attention that their children get in class and online. They also say they love that we’re not a competitive studio—we believe that dance is an art form, not a competition, and we encourage everyone to be the best they can be.
What are some of your fondest memories or biggest successes over the past 20 years?
At the end of each year, watching our oldest dancers perform in their final recital is a bittersweet moment. Many of them started as toddlers — and here they are at age 12, on the cusp of young adulthood — exhibiting the talent and dedication to the art that any teacher would be so proud of. And then — they’re off to the rest of their lives. Some continue in dance, others move to different pursuits. But hopefully, they’ll always remember their years at our studio as a time of learning in a fun, creative and nurturing environment.
In June of 2020 the pandemic brought any plans we had for an in-person recital to a screeching halt. We quickly switched to a Zoom platform with the children each performing their group recital dance from their own living rooms and family could join the meeting to watch. We even had a boy whose family was transferred to Hawaii the month before the recital join the meeting to perform with his friends! As I watched the classes perform, I saw a grandfather sign in from Mumbai, an extended family watched from eastern Europe and a grandma from South America that I’ll never forget. She started watching her granddaughter with a huge smile on her face…then the tears started to flow down her cheeks as she was able to share this moment from thousands of miles away — something that would not have happened if circumstances had not forced us to hold the recital online. Of course I was a weeping mess with her by the end of the dance.
What’s next for you and Tiny Dancers?
Right now, we’re just focused keeping everyone safe while rebuilding. Eventually, my husband (who works with me to manage the business) and I anticipate that our daughter, who currently manages the Mosaic studio, will take over day to day operations while we step back and make time to travel more and enjoy our retirement years.
When you’re not working, where in Fairfax City do you like to spend time?
We enjoy many of the restaurants including Hamrocks, Sisters Thai, Dolce Vita, Auld Shabeen, Mama Lucia and others. Cinema Arts is a little gem of a movie theater and we’re fortunate that they continue to bring a great selection of movies to our area.
How can people follow you on social media?
Our website: https://www.tinydancers.com/