BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Pure Movement Dance Center is a "pipe dream" come true for two ambitious and award winning choreographers, Dana Millette and Lindsay Doris. Their studio in Berkeley Heights provides with high caliber training for dancers of "all ages, abilities and interest levels."
Pure Movement Dance Center accommodates more than 300 students in a state-of-the-art and meticulously designed studio. The students learn a variety of dance forms -- from ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop to modern -- and conditioning exercises so they can keep dancing.
Since opening in 2012, Pure Movement has seen a healthy growth in students and class offerings. "We are growing all of the time," said Lindsay. "We planned very well -- offering a huge variety of classes on the schedule," she said.
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"What I like about what we created, [and] we wanted to do this -- we wanted to be a place for our families -- not just for the best dancers in the world ... We like that we are a place for everybody: all ages, abilities and interest levels," she said.
"We have a huge recreational program. Kids love to dance, but they also love to play soccer and love softball. We created opportunities so they can still be a dancer, they can still compete and go to competitions on a lower requirement level. They can still do things they love to do without having to drop (them) and specialize," Lindsay said. "We also have a program for the dancers that specialize and this is their life."
Dana and Lindsay said they knew from a young age that dance was going to be in their life. They both credit their parents for supporting their childhood dreams.
Dana was introduced to dance while quite young, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 2 1/2. "They were able to remove it surgically," said Dana, however, the doctors were concerned that it would effect her motor skills. "The neurologist recommended to my parents that I get involved in something that would help with coordination and gross motor skills."
It wasn't long before her "therapy," turned into a life passion and, by the time she was in middle school, "I decided that dance is what I wanted for life," said Dana.
While in high school she was nominated for a Papermill Playhouse Rising Star Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography in her school's production of "The Music Man".
Although she has stage fright, she performed throughout high school. "When I went to college, I thought I really liked just dancing," she said, but soon realized her real passion was choreography. "When I hear a song, the movement starts happening in my head."
Her college professors at Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts recognized her talent and encouraged her "do something" with her work. So, she showed her work to various professional studios. While at Rutgers, she was a member of University Danceworks which gave her the opportunity to work with well-known choreographers.
Lindsay said when she was young, "I wouldn't stop performing -- on the fireplace, coffee table -- my mom knew I needed to be in dance lessons ... At nine, I just took dance every day."
"l fell in love with the classical forms of ballet," she said. When she was 16, she outgrew her local studio and auditioned for boarding high schools. She was accepted at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) where she received her high school diploma and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance.
Lindsay continued her dance education in some of the best training facilities in New York City, and soon had a career as a professional dancer.
There was just one problem -- she had a bad back and knew she couldn't keep up with the rigors of dance. That's when she became a dance teacher, a decision she has never regretted.
Dana and Lindsay began teaching together in 2004 and shared the dream of owning their own studio one day. "We started dreaming, it was like a pipe dream," said Lindsay.
Through the support of their parents and husbands, they were able to open the studio. "We worked hard and built [the studio] from ground up. We started with an empty box."
That soon changed. They took their years of experience to design a studio that was dancer-friendly. "We knew what we wanted and what we wanted to provide for our students -- space, room to change, wide open space in the hall ways, a place to do homework - a student lounge, we wanted storage rooms," said Dana. "All the little things people don't think about on the surface -- we have it."
Pure Movement Dance Center is located at 111 Industrial Road in Berkeley Heights. The studio can be reached at (908)464-PMDC.
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