Our most recent interview was with Mrs. Sheri Liebe, Proprietor and Dance/Fitness Instructor of 1na Dance Studio in Diamond Bar, California. Sheri feels there are several things that separate her team from others. First of all, unlike other teams that have several instructors, she is the only instructor of her team. Secondly, her dancers do not compete with each other. Every student is treated equally and fairly and she doesn’t have one favorite student.
Ms. Sheri started dancing at the young age of 2, which is quite impresive. She studied with Mr. Ken Jolke of Dancers Workshop in West Covina, Ca. Then at the age of 7 she tried out for Mrs. Walsh’s School of Ballet, and she was accepted. But the rigidness and discipline proved to be more scary than fun. Then from the age of 9-18, Ms. Sheri studied Hawaiian Dancing through the direction of Mile Souza of The Aloha Dance Studio in Covina, Ca. She traveled around California dancing at Disneyland, L.A.’s Cultural Center, community events and many other prominent business events. Ms. Sheri went to Fullerton college where her major was dance, there she studied jazz, tap, and modern techniques.
At age 22 Ms. Sheri auditioned for the Monrovia Dance Company and made the tour. Unfortunately, being a young mother, still attending school and working part-time, she could not financially afford to travel with the troupe. In the 1980s Ms. Sheri started teaching dance at the San Dimas Parks and Recreation. Her class went from 10 students to 50 or more in just a few sessions. She also began teaching at other community centers and building their dance programs. By the late ’80s, early ’90s she was busy working for San Dimas, La Verne and Walnut. She even taught classes out of her garage.
Finally, in 1991, Ms Sheri opened 1na Dance and has been very successful ever since and in this article we are going to delve into why her studio has been so successful.
When she was asked, “What advice do you give your dancers to keep them motivated?” she responded, “Advice? It’s constant!? Motivation comes from the teacher . . .” Sheri constantly attends classes herself so she can push her students to become better dancers. She tries to keep things new and fresh.
Her proudest moment is when she can finally see the finished result of her work, i.e., when a student connects everything that she has taught and becomes a beautiful, confident dancer.
As far as the mistakes she sees dancers make at competitions, she doesn’t know if it’s the dancer or the teacher/choreographer. But she hates it when studios fall for the trend: Black socks on stage, trick after trick with no emotion or feeling, or straight flex moves with no choreography. She said, “It drives me nuts!! At some point we know that dancer can do a triple leg hold, but do we have to see it four times?! “
Sheri’s opinion is that good dance clothing is clothing that lasts! She uses a little store in Chino and loves their stuff because it lasts for years and years.
Sheri has two goals this year. One is to continue to educate herself so that her dancers stay on top. The other is to get them to express emotion when dancing to show how much they love to dance. She said showing emotion on stage has been a huge obstacle for her older dancers.
She started a dance studio because she loves kids and loves to dance. “It’s not a job (well, sometimes it is) but I feel like I get to play!” Mentoring kids and being a strong influence on them is very important to her. Her kids know her and respect her and they are not afraid of her. She has dancers who have literally grown up at her studio. She has been to their weddings and now she’s teaching their babies. That really says something!
If you have experience with 1na Dance Studio or Ms. Sheri Liebe please leave a comment below about your experience!