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From Russia to Hillsboro, a mission to dance

Staff writer

It’s been years since Hillsboro has had a dance studio, but that will be changing in March.

Krista Matlock, wife of Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church associate pastor Jeremy Matlock, will start offering a variety of dance classes starting March 7 in Hillsboro City Hall, and hopes to open a formal studio in June.

Matlock has been dancing all her life, teaching dance on and off for 6 years, and is finally getting the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.

“I’ve always wanted to own a dance studio since I was a little girl,” Matlock said. “but then life gets busy and you just go in different directions.”

One of those directions included Krista and Jeremy being missionaries in Saransk, Russia.

While in Russia, Matlock and her husband started a college mission at Mordovia University, a decision that helped them get around Russian red tape.

“We had to get student visas to stay because Russia was making it difficult to get visas for ministry,” Matlock said.

As the only Americans in a town of roughly 300,000 people, Matlock said they gained respect from their community after Matlock participated in a college talent show.

“We were having a hard time connecting with the students,” Matlock said. “My husband found out about the show and said to sign up for it.”

Matlock said that after the competition, she started teaching dance classes as a free ministry and also to help people get to know who they were.

“We were the only Americans,” Matlock said. “A lot of people were skeptical of us and what we were doing, so dance classes helped them know that we were normal.”

Matlock kept missionary tradition by teaching dance classes not at the college, but out of a local church.

“I actually did [classes] out of one of the churches there, which was huge because where we were at, dancing was a sin,” Matlock said. “So for them to let us do dance classes in their attic was pretty cool.”

Matlock said she is excited to move forward with this new adventure, and that it wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the support of the community, including Mayor Delores Dalke.

“Delores Dalke helped us look for a house when we moved here,” Matlock said. “I told her I taught dance and she said ‘Oh we need a dance teacher here.’”

Matlock said that even though she liked the idea, she was worried about how it would come together.

“When we first were even thinking of opening a studio, one of our thoughts was ‘How will we fund this?’” Matlock said. “Then we immediately had Greenhaw Pharmacy and Alisa Schmidt want to sponsor us.”

Hillsboro Community Hospital doctor Alisa Schmidt and Greenhaw Pharmacy co-owner Eric Driggers want to help sponsor the studio, whether it be with the start up or promotion.

Schmidt said that she is supportive of the dance studio in part because of health reasons.

“I think having this studio will be a great asset for Hillsboro,” Schmidt said. “I think it is a great way to get exercise. Kids need at least 60 minutes of activity a day, and this is one way to get it.

“I’m excited to get to work with her and partner with her so my own girls can dance, and also as a service to the community.”

Driggers, who owns Greenhaw Pharmacy with his wife Tami, also heard about the idea, and was excited to get on board with it as well.

“With three small girls, they’ve always had an interest in doing this but we’ve never had the ability to take them out of town,” Driggers said, “so we are pretty excited for what Krista’s vision with this is.”

Driggers said he wasn’t completely certain how they were going to help sponsor the studio, but were “definitely wanting to help somehow with it.”

Studio 23, which Matlock said stands for Philippians 2:3, will occupy the former Marion County Learning Center on Main St. in Hillsboro.

Matlock plans to offer basic ballet, jazz, technique, tap, boys rhythm, movement, and eventually more specialized classes once Matlock can assess the levels, needs, and abilities of students.

Matlock said her vision includes more than just dance classes for children.

“My hope is once we get the studio open, we can have adult classes like swing dancing and line dancing and fun stuff like that just to get people involved,” Matlock said. “I’d love to do events like daddy-daughter dances or luau events that bring the community out.”

Matlock is also appreciative of the amount of support this endeavor has received.

“I see a lot of opportunities for the community to come together,” Matlock said. “It’s great to see the community excited and so supportive of this.”

Last modified Feb. 3, 2016

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