By Carol Stiffler

The Sanders family was recently at a crossroads. The homeschool family has already lived several places in their young lives: Jack Sanders, father and husband, is a field technician for Ponsse. His work takes him across the nation, and he heads into the woods there to repair forest machinery in need. But lately, they were torn between two new opportunities:

Spend six months in France?
Or open a dance studio in Newberry?

They picked the second option, and are about to open Peninsula Point Dance Studio at 7332 M-123, sandwiched between Hometown Pharmacy and Foster’s ACE Hardware.

Dance instructor Kimberly Sanders, mother to Joslyn, 9, and Raelyn, 3, said they tested the waters to gauge local interest. Once they posed the topic on social media, they had more than 50 sign-ups in the first night. They’ve now hit nearly 100 young people signed up to dance in age groups sorted in botanical groups:

Seedlings – age 2-4
Sprouts – age 5-7
Blossoms – age 8-12
Flowers – age 13-18

Within the age groups, classes are available in ballet, jazz, tap, and lyrical dance.

Classes will be held once a week per age group and style, and lessons are $40 per month – intentionally affordable, they said.

Sign-ups are open to boys and girls, and some boys have registered.

“I always like to start, when they’re young, with ballet,” Kimberly Sanders said. “Because that gives them not only the technique, but also the dance etiquette for how to present yourself. Ballet is very classical.”

To start, all classes in all age ranges will be for beginners. That’s because there’s been no local dance instruction for a long time, and it’s likely most dancers will need to start at the beginning.

Kimberly Sanders has spent her young life immersed in dance. She danced in school, competing nationally and later coaching competitive dance squads. She wants to build a competition team in Newberry that would travel to compete against other teams like those in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

“I’m glad they’re as excited as we are,” Kimberly Sanders said. “I’ve wanted to do this for two years now. We’d been looking, looking, and looking for a building, and could not find one.”

Her friend forwarded her Keith Burbach’s phone number and said he had a building. Burbach, the owner of the strip with Mac’s Market, Foster’s ACE Hardware, and Hometown Pharmacy, showed them the space, and Kimberly Sanders said it was a perfect fit.

They’re in the midst of renovating the space for a dance studio, which expects to open in September. The Sanders are hoping to host an open house during the weekend of July 4 so anyone who is interested can walk through the space.

Jack Sanders is doing much of the remodeling inside the rental space. A wall will separate the lobby from the dance studio, giving privacy to the classes. Twenty feet of mirrors will line the southern wall, and a barre will be installed on the northern wall of the studio. Jack will install a Marley floor in the dance area – a special style of flooring designed for dance.

“You don’t want the floor too slippery,” Jack said. “It’s soft, so it prevents injuries.”

Local mother Amanda Oven, a longtime friend of Kimberly Sanders, was the first to sign up her daughter for dance. “I did not have the availability of dance growing up and I think that it would have helped me in many ways,” Oven said. “Confidence, structure, goal setting, and much more! So giving my daughter this opportunity is very exciting!”

Oven’s daughter, Emerson, loves to move, dance, and be surrounded by her friends, Oven said, and dance class will give her that, plus a chance to make new friends.

“If someone is hesitant to sign their child up for dance, I would want them to know that Ms. Kim has an unmeasurable amount of empathy and has the ability to normalize nervousness all while emphasizing the fun through her continued support. Focusing on progress, not perfection, and to know that every step forward, no matter how small, is an achievement worth celebrating and can make a large impact in their child’s confidence and life.”