The Dance Studio Roots
My mom, Wendy Setter, started The Dance Studio in the fall of 1979. I like to refer to her as “Little Miss Bellingham” because she was so involved in the community. Our family has always been artistically inclined and at the age of three, my grandma put my mom into dance classes to follow in her footsteps. She started dancing with Betty Alsop, a Bellingham dance icon, at age five and performed all around the community, if there was an opportunity to dance (even on a drum), she was there. As a teen my mom tried out for the Music Man and became hooked on musicals, which eventually led her into choreographing for local theater groups, the BHS swing choir and starting The Dance Studio.
The Dance Studio opened on the top floor of the Fairhaven Marketplace in 1979, bounced around Bellingham and finally settled in at home here on Cornwall Avenue at the original Hillview Dairy in 1996.
Britt’s Dancing Story
I was fortunate enough to grow up at The Dance Studio. I practically lived there. My mom created a fun, eventful and loving place to be raised. I remember watching the big girls take classes when I was a tiny tot and staring at their pointe shoes in complete awe. As I got older, I would listen to tap rhythms through the walls of the dressing room and learn all the tap dances I could by piecing together the sounds. I loved being at the studio. I felt free to be creative and was inspired by the people around me. I was invited to join a traveling dance group, the Jr. Hoofers, at The Dance Studio when I was ten. It was the first time I remember being held to a higher set of expectations by my dance teachers. I learned to respect the classroom, my teachers and my peers, and I learned a sense of discipline that I wasn’t able to get anywhere else. We were able to travel around the world, perform in Australia, international parades and competitions and formed incredible friendships. I was surrounded by teachers that encouraged me to reach my goals and I felt such pride when I achieved those goals. The Dance Studio provided me with the tools I needed to be successful in life. I was prepared for the challenges of high school, college, and my first big job because of the lessons I learned at the studio.
Britt’s Dance Philosophy
My childhood experience at The Dance Studio was so positive and substantial that I wanted to be able to pass on the same experience to future students. I love the beauty of dance and I love seeing students realize their passion in the art. I love teaching, seeing the students work each class to reach their goals and then watching their faces light up as they have succeeded. I love their curiosity and hunger to learn more. They are incredible sponges and continue to surprise me with all they can do. The students are not given things, they earn them and that results in well adjusted, confident and prepared individuals.
Over the years TDS students have gone on to perform in companies, some have started their own studios and some of our originals are still dancing with us today. My mom was pregnant with me when she taught some of the adult tappers that I still teach every Wednesday! I’ve been thrilled to pick up where my loving mother, Miss Wendy, left off and continue growing the studio and helping others learn to dance. It’s been a whirlwind of fun and hard-work creating a caring environment for students to gain a love of dance and build confidence. I’m very proud of The Dance Studio, the positive staff, the talented students, and the supportive parents. It is a blessing to do what I love in such a beautiful community. I am passionate about continuing the welcoming, encouraging and positive family environment at the studio. It is my goal to have each student leave class feeling better about themselves than when they walked through the doors. As my mom always said, hugs, manners, and laughter are the most important things in life!