June 26, 2018
Dance Camp is first and foremost a family. Upon arriving at this cute space located on the upper level of an old historic library, the Attitudes crew was greeted by Cotton, the resident Great Pyrenees who befriends all who are willing to give him a good rub. It was clear that this close-knit studio is much more than a place to dance. It’s a home. Susan Camp, founder, director, and one of the few toe-tappers left in the nation, serves over one hundred students in the Winfield area offering a variety of classes including ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, tumbling, funk, and ballroom. Each discipline is rooted in ballet which serves as the technical foundation for their dance styles. Miss Vonnie, close friend and fellow teacher, says “When our dancers leave us, they have learned to dance, not a dance.”
We sat down to chat with Susan and Vonnie to learn more about what makes Dance Camp special. Sitting in her cozy office decorated with photos of past students and sentimental memorabilia, it felt like we were chatting with old friends. When asked about her teaching style, Susan described it as “very fluid” and “relational.” Approaching each class on a moment by moment basis, she is not afraid to break away from the day’s agenda. Adaptability allows her to teach effectively and thoughtfully. “You never know what things have been going on…If you can tell they're having a really bad day, depending on the age group, sometimes we’ll just stop and talk, because at that moment that’s actually more important than whether they’re getting their brisé.”
Susan modeled her teaching style after the advice of her beloved instructor Betty Stockard. “She taught me so much more than dance. So our motto here is ‘Life lessons through dance lessons’.” Miss Betty’s experience as a Rockette in New York City lent itself to very polished studio productions, and after attending several local recitals, it was this professional quality that caught the eye of Susan’s mother. In school, Susan dreamed of being a veterinarian. And as a self-proclaimed tomboy, born with clubbed feet, she often resented her mother’s vicarious decision to enroll her in ballet. Susan recalls that her mother, although never having received lessons, mail ordered pointe shoes and jumped up and down on the bed with them. When recalling her mother’s story, Susan laughingly said “You know how it is. You can’t just order a size!” And so in a way, Susan was fulfilling her mother’s dream.
Eventually, that love of dance became her own, and she came to appreciate ballet as an amazing technical foundation. At Oklahoma State, Susan continued to find opportunities to dance and choreograph. Upon graduating with a degree in education, she moved to Winfield and taught for several years. One day, she overheard the drama coach talking about a studio space—one that would be great for dance lessons. After consulting with her husband and feeling God’s calling, she decided that her last year teaching biology would be her first year teaching dance. Twenty-eight years later and she still knows that it was the best decision.