She walks around the space, entering each room with a new vision. She places a spring floor here, a ballet poll there and tops it off by envisioning a mirror wrapping around the walls.
Ewing resident LaToya James, winner of the Oxygen Network’s reality show, Dance Your Ass Off season two, has a dream: to transform a former post office into Dream Makers Dance Studios.
“My realtor and my mom came out with me when I first found out about this place and they asked what I saw,” James said. “What I saw was my dream where no one else saw it.”
James had driven past the building, 1880 Princeton Ave. in Lawrenceville, several times, taking her godchildren and cousin to gymnastics, but it took her some time before she noticed it was available. The building was filled with office space, but LaToya saw that she had finally found her studio space when she noticed a skylight in what now has become Studio One.
“I’m doing all this research on the Internet and looking at these properties and I just want to cry,” James said. “I’m like there has to be a building out there that is mine and I don’t understand why it’s been almost a year and I can’t find it. Once I saw that skylight, I knew that this was my studio.”
James considered just opening up a one-studio, mom-and-pop shop, but she thought that she could not achieve her dream and promote the dreams of others if she went that route.
James hopes to give her students the “total package,” instructing them in dance, singing, acting and musical theater. She also plans to run Zumba classes and has brought her aunt, Mitzi Hightower-Teel, on board to use her 30 years of experience in exercise programs. Ultimately, she sees her studio becoming a place where anyone from the ages of 2 and 92 can feel at home.
“My hope and my dream is that everyone who walks through that door can see this as a one-stop shop,” James said. “Grandma can come if she wants to get jiggy with it and take a Zumba class or a toning class and mom can come and take a step aerobics class. All the while, her daughter is in dance class and maybe an acting class.”
The combination of dancing and fitness is something that James has brought from her experience on Dance Your Ass Off, an experience that she views as a second opportunity at achieving her dreams.
“I really went on the show because my dreams had died, I gained 150 pounds working at a desk in corporate setting and I wasn’t happy,” James said. “My mom saw this opportunity and pushed me to go and that’s what I saw it as: an opportunity to get a second chance at a dream I let die.”
Although James did not reach her original dreams, she now has a new one – helping her students toward their own dreams.
There will be an open house at the studio Aug. 19, but James also pointed out that there is currently an offer for an “early bird registration” for her summer program and auditions for her dance company on June 12-13.
“I want August 19 to come tomorrow,” James said. “But, I’m patient and I know that day will be a time when everyone can see Dream Makers Studio for it is: a true place of performing arts.”
For more information, visit the studio’s website at dreammakersdance.com.