BERLIN – Seaside Dance Academy in Berlin is setting a successful pace for students in dance and also in life.
Owner and director of Seaside Dance Academy, Lisa Tingle, opened her doors in September of 2001.
Tingle settled in the area with her new husband, James Tingle, after graduating with a dance degree from Point Place College in Pittsburgh, Pa. Previously, she had spent eight summers in the area as a can-can dancer for Frontier Town where her husband acted as a cowboy at the time.
“I came from an extremely strict teacher and she was a very good teacher, but I always said to myself that if I ever tried this someday I would try to make it a positive experience for the kids where they are still learning but they’re not frightened to come into the class,” she said.
The dance academy started out as a hit and hasn’t slowed down in a business sense. They opened offering instruction in all genres of dance and have just continued adding classes to the list, for example acting/musical theatre is new this year. Tingle added that when the academy first opened its doors there were around 300 students signed up, which is about how many students are enrolled in classes this year.
“It’s a growing business,” Tingle said. “I think you’re seeing more and more dance studios opening up on the Eastern Shore which is great, and down in this area we are probably one out of a few others.”
Since the academy’s inception, Tingle has taken on an assistant director, Meagen Walsh. She said Walsh started out as a dance student of Tingle’s but once returning from college she began teaching dance classes at Seaside. She evolved from being a dance teacher to working with the studio’s competitive teams and is now also a choreographer.
“She is just a jewel for me to have around here,” Tingle said. “She is a little bit of everything. She is fabulous in the office and she is fabulous in the back, and a pleasant to be around, and makes my job a lot easier.”
According to Walsh, since the academy opened, Seaside dancers have produced nine recitals, seven holiday shows, performed in the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade, flash mobbed with the Jonas Brothers, danced in Kelly Ripa’s Disney Parade and filmed with “Dance Moms” in Lancaster, Pa.
This past year Seaside dancers have won several different titles in numerous championships including the nationals that took place in Virginia Beach. They have also placed grand champion in the Starpower Talent Competition and received a number of scholarships provided by Legacy Dance Championship.
Tingle said the best thing about Seaside Dance Academy is that it becomes a second home for the dancers.
“Most of them spend most of their time here during the week and on weekends,” she said. “We develop a family relationship. We are there for the tears and the hugs.”
Tingle added that student parents feel safe having their kids spend time at Seaside.
“This is where they eat their dinner, this is where they do their homework, and then they come into dance classes,” she said.
Tingle says she feels like a parent to two boys and about 300 girls. She has watched many of students grow up and graduate from high school.
“A lot of the kids have been here since they were 3 years old and have come up through the program,” she said. “We have been very fortunate and very lucky. I have a really great group of kids that have committed themselves and dedicated themselves.”
Graduating alumni dancers from the 2011 season, Daniella Celia, Paige Clayland, Sophie Vitilio and Jessica Fry, have succeeded in auditioning and making their chosen college dance companies.
Other graduating alumni from Seaside have continued a successful dance career, including Katy Malone who now runs the Dance Teacher Summit in New York City for Break the Floor Productions. Tingle added that other students have gone on to dance for Royal Caribbean and Disney.
A graduating senior from Indian River High School this year, Laura Seitz, has been dancing at Seaside Dance Academy since the day it opened. Before the academy opened its doors, she had been instructed by Tingle at a different location since she was around 2 years old, as many of Tingle’s students have done.
“When she [Tingle] opened her own studio, we followed her because she is the best of the best,” Seitz said.
Seitz said from her experience at Seaside she is sure to continue with dance as she moves on into her future.
“I want to go to college and definitely want to major or minor in dance,” she said. “I don’t want to stop dancing. I want to incorporate it into my life in some way.”
The overall petite age division champion, Kendal Snyder, said she loves the teachers at Seaside Dance Academy because they always push her to do better. “It’s a lot of fun,” Snyder said.
The overall junior age division champion, Kathryn O’Malley, said she also enjoys Seaside because the teachers work with the students to make them better dancers.
“All the classes we have this year are a lot of fun,” O’Malley said. “I just enjoy it so much because I love to dance.”
O’Malley also placed as a top five duo out of 110 duo’s in the nationals this year with her partner, Kasey Clayland.
“I like how the teachers challenge us whenever we’re doing something and we always know that if they are correcting us they are helping us … the teachers are really nice and I have a lot of friends here,” Clayland said.