When parents would drop off their children at the Sheila Parkins School of Dance in D.D.O., they would chat with the school’s director about the challenges of organizing and coordinating each child’s extracurricular activities. Parents complained about having to drive to several different places, sometimes on the same day. They mentioned how great it would be if there were a “one-stop shop” for dance, music and theatre lessons.
So Parkins took action. This spring, she had an additional 3,000 square feet added to the school’s building. She changed the school’s name to the Sheila Parkins Academy of Dance and Music, to reflect the new music, voice and drama lessons being offered. There will also be more courses held on Sundays, to accommodate families who ski or do other activities on Saturdays during the winter. The school’s renovated building also includes a lounge for parents, a children’s play area and a quiet spot for students to complete homework.
Parkins, who opened the school 29 years ago, says it’s important to respond to the needs of parents. “Families are so busy these days and, especially in the winter, it’s hard for them to drive to different places across the city for extracurricular activities.” At the Academy’s new facility, it will be easy to enrol one child or siblings on the same day.
The music program will include individual lessons in popular instruments like piano and guitar, as well as voice lessons. Teachers all hold university degrees in the instruments they teach and will work with beginners to advanced students. There will also be an introduction to music for preschoolers as well as concerts and recitals.
The school’s dance program offers everything from jazz and hip hop to tap and classical ballet. Adults can sign up for Zumba courses (an aerobic fitness class set to Latin-style music). New mothers with babies can participate in a “Baby Salsa” class, where moms dance while holding their little ones in a front carrier. All studios have special floors that reduce the impact from dancing and help prevent injuries. “Students can dance for much longer on these floors without getting tired,” Parkins says.
The Sheila Parkins Academy of Dance and Music is located at 4701 St. Jean Blvd. in D.D.O. For more information about the courses, call (514) 626-1981 or go to www.sheilaparkinsacademyofdanceandmusic.com.