Meet Your Neighbor: Danielle Bridgewater

Published 10:17 am Thursday, July 25, 2019

By Nacogdoches Miller

Sun Intern

A native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Danielle Bridgewater came to Kentucky for higher education and found herself the next in line of a long tradition when she became the inheritor of Dancers Pointe.

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Baptized in the art of dance at 3 years old, Bridgewater’s story caught the attention of then director Fara Tyree when her in-laws took out an ad in The Sun to announce her wedding and touched on her previous experiences as a director of another school.

As fate would have it, Tyree invited her for tea — an invitation which led to a career when she took over Dancer’s Pointe studio in 2008.

With a degree in psychology, Bridgewater combines her two passions to become closer with her students and community to help them build self-confidence as they journey through life.

Bridgewater took a moment to speak with The Winchester Sun about life, community and the benefits of celebrating failure.   

The Winchester Sun: How long have you been the director of Dancer’s pointe?

Danielle Bridgewater: For 10 years. We opened in 2008 two weeks after my husband and I got married.

WS: What made you want to open up a dance studio?

DB: I got a phone call from a lady named Fara Tyree. I would say she’s like a Winchester icon, a local celebrity for us.

But she is a very sweet lady who had the dance studio here for 30 years or more.

She took over from another lady named Mrs. Boggard, and Mrs. Tyree came close to retirement and closed her studio.

My in-laws, who are actually from here, ran an announcement that my husband and I were getting married and in there it talked about how I was a dance instructor and a director of another program.

So Mrs. Tyree read that from The Winchester Sun and called me and invited me over for tea. We sat down and we had tea and basically it was just like ‘I want you to continue on with dance here in Winchester,’ and I said ‘OK.’

WS: How long had you been a dancer before that?

DB: All my life really. My mom put me in dance really early on, and I’m thankful for that. Cause I have definitely seen the benefits of what it can do for a young lady and for boys as well.

When I was three is when I started in my first dance class.

WS: What form of dance was it?

DB: I started with ballet, and then later on in life, I moved into jazz and contemporary and tap and musical theater — all the different genres that we offer here.

WS: What has been your favorite?

DB: Ballet has always been my love. II really like the discipline of it and the lessons you can learn from it, how they carry over into life.

I do really enjoy doing all the other styles as well, but if I had to pick one, I would choose ballet.

WS: What are some lessons people learn through dance?

DB: I feel that dance sets you up from just walking into the classroom. If you can imagine just going into a classroom, you have never danced before, you are standing in a leotard and tights with your friends or maybe people you don’t know and the teacher asks you to start moving your body. That can feel a little bit uncomfortable.

(Dance) just raises a little bit of body awareness and what you’re doing with it and how we can move our bodies appropriately to express ourselves through art form.

And then from there preparing for performance and the confidence you can gain from doing that and just believing in yourself and putting yourself out there and being vulnerable in a new way that maybe you haven’t done before.

There are lots of other things that dance teaches you: discipline with your time management, I feel it teaches you poise, just many things.

And that’s really our motto here as corny as it may sound we feel like we are teaching life lessons through dance lessons.

WS: What are some of the benefits?

DB: Obviously there’s physical benefits because you are moving, that’s a form of exercise, it’s a form of cardio, but I  also feel there are social benefits because you do have to allow yourself to be a little bit vulnerable. And when you are in that setting,  and you are working with others and you are trying to perform something you are going to present to the audience as a team, you have to start to learn to work well with other people, trust other people with something you are passionate about.

I truly believe in dance and what it can do for young people.

WS: What would you tell someone who might feel vulnerable and afraid to try?

DB: We see that a lot because, if you can imagine, moving your body in new ways can sometimes feel uncomfortable.

I guess if I had to say something to someone who was feeling fearful about maybe putting themselves out there to try dance is that this is a safe environment to make mistakes and so we want our students to make mistakes because then that way it means they are trying and they are going for it.

If someone tries a turn and they fall, we celebrate that because they earned that fall, they were really going for it.

Fear is a liar. Fear is something you shouldn’t feed into, and we should all just feel comfortable to be who we are and who we were made to be.

If dance is something that’s along someone’s journey this is a safe place where they can explore that and whether it turns into a career or just something that they did through school, there are great benefits to either track.

WS: Did you always want to teach dance?

DB: “I actually didn’t. It was never really an end goal for me.

I thought I would go into school psychology. I went to Georgetown College to study psychology and that’s actually what I have my degree in.

In college I needed to get a job, and so I was thinking, ‘What skill sets do I have? What’s something I enjoy?’ and there was actually a local studio that was looking for an instructor. I applied for the position and it was crazy how it went.

It was just like in a month I ended up being the director of the program, and so I did that while I was in school. Then I met Barrett, my husband, there at Georgetown, and we graduated, we got engaged.

I was still teaching, and at that point, I knew this is something that I want to do and I feel like I can contribute to in a way.

That is when I got the call from Mrs. Tyree and we decided to move back here, and I’m really thankful that I have.

I’ve learned a lot about the community by having them here in the school, just having the families and getting to know them and seeing what kind of families we have here in Winchester.

It makes me proud to be a part of the community just getting to know others and it makes me excited to also raise my family here.

WS: What got you interested in psychology?

DB: I’ve always been interested in psychology, so I don’t know if there is just one thing.

I just always enjoyed working with children, and so I thought maybe school psychology would be a fun thing to do, just to be involved in kids’ lives on a deeper level.

WS: Has psychology help you any with your dance?

DB: I think so. Whenever I am trying to understand a student on a more deeper level — if someone is feeing shy or if someone doesn’t know what to do or they are acting out maybe or just having a bad day, instead of just staying on the surface level and saying, ‘Oh know you have to participate,’ I try to understand where that’s coming from and why from a place of love and compassion and a little bit of empathy and then go from there.

WS: What has been your favorite experience?

DB: I think my most favorite part of doing this is getting to know so many families and I feel like they teach me so much. Every day I’m learning from them, and so that truly has been the joy of having the studio thus far.

I feel that it’s a gift and an honor to be a part of. They are choosing to send their child to Dancer’s Pointe and so I don’t take that lightly. That responsibility in a way has been my most favorite part.

WS: Do you think you will carry on the tradition of Dancer’s Point and find someone to pass it on to?

DB: “I hope so. I think that would be a dream of mine to hand it down like Mrs. Tyree did to me, because I think it’s a vital part of our community, just investing in kids so they then in return become successful members of our community or whatever community they end up in.

I hope that one day there would be someone who would want to continue on. I would be sad if there was not.