The 7- and 8-year-old dancers in Lana Miller’s Monday class worked on their hip-hop dance routine as Ke$ha played in the background.
As the girls strutted to the middle of the hardwood floor, Miller asked them to walk with more attitude. When there was a jump stop in the performance, she asked the girls to hit the floor demonstratively.
“I always tell them, ‘This is the one place where you’re allowed to have attitude,’” Miller said.
Miller’s philosophy for teaching dance is to get her students to have fun first and then work on the instruction of the basics.
“I don’t want them to feel like their learning because they’re having fun,” Miller said.
Miller, 27, has been teaching classes since October in an upstairs studio on Fourth Street in Marion. She has been pleased with the response from her young pupils.
“I’ve seen a huge improvement in every single one of my dancers,” Miller said. “They’ve gone home and practiced all the combinations.”
The response from the community has also been positive.
“Every week, I’ve gotten a new student,” Miller said.
So far, the classes have only been on Mondays. Starting at 4 p.m., Miller teaches half-hour classes until 7:30. She teaches ballet, hip-hop, jazz, tap, and adult exercise. Her favorite styles are lyrical ballet and hip-hop.
“I think dance is a way to express your feelings,” Miller said.
Miller began dancing as a 2-year-old. She went on to earn a dance scholarship to Barton Community College and then transferred to Wichita State University where she was part of the Shocker dance squad.
She already operates a studio in Herington, where she grew up. She said all the students that have continued with classes through high school graduation have earned dance scholarships to colleges and universities.
A friend told her about the location in Marion. Miller is hoping to attract students from around Marion County.
Miller is planning performances, a recital maybe in the spring, with her Marion classes but is currently focusing on the basics with her young students. They are still learning the balance, coordination, and flexibility required for dance as well as moves like double turns, seconds, leaps, and stalls.