When it comes to priming ballerinas, 30A Ballet Studio founder and instructor Allyson Raymond says it's all about tradition.
"What I offer is a more traditional dance school," she said. "I do not believe in competition like you see on television; that's not what it's all about. I concentrate on technique."
When Raymond moved to Seagrove with her husband Robert and their son Lars, she was excited to live a quieter life by the beach in comparison to their metropolitan life in Atlanta. The only problem was that Raymond, who has had a long career dancing in professional ballet companies as well as teaching at the Atlanta Ballet for 19 years, found that there was no place for her to continue working.
"I feel that some of the art programs offered to the children in the area are lacking," she said.
Wanting to fulfill an unmet need, Raymond opened the 30A Ballet Studio in October 2011 and last March re-opened the studio in its current location in Inlet Beach.
"I wanted to provide a more serious dance education," she said. "I pass on a lot of ballet etiquette as well as the history. There is so much heritage in proper dance."
30A Ballet's building itself is a proper representation of a professional ballet studio. Raymond made sure to have a dressing room available for students coming straight from school and the dance studio is equipped with the same sprung dance flooring that is used in professional companies.
"The teenaged students are pushing for a mini fridge and hot tub," she said with a laugh.
Raymond, with the help of one other instructor, Lyndsi Stevens, teaches classes for any level dancer from age three to adult.
Children who practice ballet at a young age improve their mind and body, Raymond explained. Not only are they stretching and strengthening their muscles, but they're also learning discipline and focus. The same can be said for adults.
"Ballet is good for joints, especially for adults with arthritis," Raymond said. "It's great for your figure and a lot more fun than the treadmill.”
30A Ballet also hosts jazz classes, which are taught by Stevens. Although Raymond requires jazz dance hopefuls to take a ballet class first.
"It provides a good, classical foundation," she explained.
Through her years as a ballet instructor, Raymond has remained close with some of her students, following them through school, marriage and motherhood.
Raymond even keeps in touch with her past ballet instructors and uses some of their techniques in her class like Abigail the ballet fairy, a fictitious fairy that lives in a pink birdhouse in the studio. Abigail watches over the students — young or old — to make sure they are behaving.
"Abigail came to me as a child from one of my ballet teachers, Mrs. Roberts, who is now in her 90s," Raymond said. "I called her up and asked for permission to use Abigail in my own classes."
With her young students, Raymond also instills the importance of good nutrition, making it a point to have fruit and veggie time during class.
Every year, Raymond looks forward to meeting her new students and watching her continuing students grow as dancers. In May, students get to showcase their hard work in an end-of-the-year recital.
"I love to see their progress and improvements — it's amazing," she said.
Raymond caught the dance bug at a young age. She originally took ballet lessons to accompany a childhood friend.
"She was pitifully shy and was afraid to go by herself," she recalled. "As it turns out Anne Marie lasted only a couple of months and I never stopped. Ballet got into my soul."
As 30A Ballet Studio looks to a second year in business, Raymond doesn't plan on expanding the business too far, she did move to Seagrove for a slower-paced life after all.
"I'd like to keep it small and keep that personal attention," she said.
Want to join? For more information on 30A Ballet, visit www.facebook.com/30aBallet or call 399-0514. Adult Ballet classes begin Oct. 1. Sign up today. Don't miss dancers with the 30A Ballet Company at the Flutterby Arts Festival in Rosemary Beach this November.