WHEELING Dance Dimensions has been the name in dance in the Ohio Valley for nearly 30 years.
But when longtime owner Charlotte Berisford decided it was time to retire, it threatened to create a void in the local performing arts community.
Fortunately, one of Berisford's most decorated proteges was ready transition from performance into teaching and was willing to continue the tradition started at the Wheeling location so many years ago.
OWNER?MANDY?Baker, in red, and co-director Lacey Baker, in blue, are ready to help train both young and old alike in all forms and styles of dance at Turn it Out Dance Academy.
"We will carry on the Dance Dimensions tradition, but what a better way to start a new chapter than with a new name,'' said Mandy Baker, the new owner of what is now Turn It Out Dance Academy at 96 Washington Ave. in Wheeling.
Baker began taking class at Dance Dimensions at age three and it was there her love of dance blossomed into a professional career, spanning eight years.
She performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York City for seven years as well as numerous other regional and national performances.
During that span, she had been a guest instructor at Dance Dimensions, offering her expertise and getting to know the families in the studio.
The transition has been a seamless one for the former Miss Dance and Teen Miss Dance Ohio.
"It's been a great transition,'' Baker said. ''It's something I've always wanted to do. It was my end career goal.
''I don't miss performing at all because I still get to dance with the kids. Lacey (Baker) and I, we're dancers now. We still take classes to continue our education. We'll travel to New York for teachers' seminars.
''So in essence, we're still performing. Just not on the stage."
Co-director Lacey Baker, like Mandy, also touts an extensive professional background. And also like Mandy, she got her start at a young age at Dance Dimensions.
Lacey also moved to New York upon embarking on her professional career and quickly signed on with Stiletto Entertainment in Los Angeles. It was through Stiletto that Baker was able to perform for nearly five years on the Holland America Cruise Lines.
The two both have 20-plus years of dancing experience and more then 10 in the teaching realm. Mandy Baker feels they are ready to impart their knowledge and build upon the traditions of dance dimensions while branching off into new and exciting directions.
"We're going to be offering a lot more styles ... hip hop dance, zumba ... and we want to incorporate more of the fitness aspect of dance into it,'' Mandy Baker explained. "And we really want to bring the fundamentals and techniques back into dance.
"It's not just about ribbons and trophies."
Baker noted her goal isn't to teach her students just a routine to perform at a competition. She wants to teach them how to dance and her studio will be offering a multitudes of styles of dance to meet that goal.
The more traditional style classes of ballet, tap and jazz will be taught, along with acrobatics, but also contemporary, lyrical, and hip hop classes will be offered.
A more detailed listing of what is offered can be foud at the studio's Web site at www.turnitoutdanceacademy.com or by calling (304) 243-1860.
Baker said the former Dance Dimension clients have remained on board and she's already introduced 50 new families to the Turn It Out conmunity.
They will be hosting an open house this weekend from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. for anyone seeking more information.
Hughes may be reached online at mhughes@ timesleaderonline.com