It Starts with a Square

Collierville in Motion Dance Profiles

BY Rachel Spiers

When it comes to dancing, Tour Collierville’s theory is that age has no boundaries. A beautiful commonality lies between us all when the radio dial is turned up and a sensation from within encourages us to move. No matter who’s around or what’s happened that day, the music compels you to loosen up by tapping your toes, nodding your head, and swaying to the beat. It’s inspiring to see an 80-year-old man bring back the movement of his younger years with the same grace and fluidity as a 5-year-old girl who’s just now starting to find her own rhythm in a contemporary dance class. American dancer and choreographer noted for her groundbreaking techniques and evolution of modern dance in the US, Martha Graham once said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” Our bodies are meant to move, expressing our emotions, for as long as life allows!

Dance begins as a social movement behavior. We all talk with our bodies – some use their hands as they tell a story, while others may tap or drum their fingers in anticipation of what’s to come. Dance is how we communicate. Collierville is a very cultural community if you take time to pause and immerse yourself in the livelihood around you. There is a chance that you may not speak the same language as the family next to you on the concert lawn, but we all speak the language of dance. The value of dance is not something to simply be appreciated on a stage, but it is for everyone to experience as part of a culture.


Tour Collierville caught up with local instructors and dance enthusiasts who inspire countless individuals in our community to do just that — keep ‘Collierville in Motion.’


Jackie Chartrand, NVS Dance Owner 

I started dancing when I could  walk. I danced at my mom’s studio and for Houston High until I went to college after receiving a scholarship from the University of Memphis to dance for the Pom Squad. I started teaching dance for my mom in 2001. Dance has always been a part of my life, so I can’t imagine not doing it.

What keeps me wanting to do it is investing in the girls, being a part of their lives and knowing you’re making a difference. There’s nothing better than watching your dancers performing your art. Choreographing a life story and watching the girls act that out is really cool and rewarding! Also impacting their lives, being their mentor is almost like being a second mom. When you’re younger, dance is more of an activity. It teaches you musicality, rhythm, and coordination. As you get older, it turns into an art, so you can express yourself and tell stories. Owning a studio has its own challenges but is extremely rewarding because you meet amazing people along the way.


Abby Pohlman, Collierville Arts Academy Instructor 

I’ve been dancing since about two or three. Dance has a special connection in my family. My mom danced, and she loves watching me dance I really stuck with it because I knew I could keep growing and learning in it instead of any other sport. I went to college at MTSU, and I taught dance over the summers at my old high school. After I transferred to the University of Memphis, I started working for Collierville Arts Academy.

Growing up, I was always asked to come to different classes to demonstrate and assist the teacher. I always loved to dance, but I really enjoy being an instructor because when I teach my students, I see when it clicks in their heads. They feel confident with the movement. I feel this sense of joy that I’ve helped them achieve that.

The best thing about dance is, it doesn’t matter how young or old you are, you can still dance. I teach an adult student class with moms whose kids dance with us and some college students, and they love it. If you have the passion to learn it, you have the passion to do it.


Krista Robinson, PT Squared Owner & Instructor

I have a cheerleading background and have always loved dance, so I started this class (‘I  Move’ Cardio Class) as a great form of cardio incorporating a lot of squats disguised as dance to make a really good work out. We call it ‘I Move’ because the whole concept is that you just want to stay moving to the music! It doesn’t really matter if you stay on step or not, just keep moving with the music!  

Besides dancing in routines for cheer, I used to be big into running, but I got hurt and couldn’t run anymore. I fell back on dance as my cardio. I love teaching this class because I’m yelling and getting excited while doing the choreography with the whole class, and I’m drenched at the end. I tell my class that it doesn’t matter about the steps, just move however your body tells you to! It releases those good endorphins, and it’s a good chance to be completely carefree, have a good time, and work out! Dance is proven to release endorphins quickly, especially with women. With all the responsibility, stress, and priorities we have all day long, it’s nice to just show up somewhere where you don’t have to worry about anything,  just let loose, and have a good time!


Carol Lloyd, CHS Dance Coach

I started dancing and cheering when I was young, and I started coaching and doing choreography when I was 18 and haven’t stopped! Opportunities always led to more (opportunities) every year. Since I coach at the Junior High level through College, I see dancers growth every year. I love to see former athletes continue to dance and talking to them, hearing how much they learned from being in my program and under my coaching. It’s rewarding because I know I have such an impact on their lives and to see them succeed is worth it all!

I love working with dancers in the school because I get to help them understand the meaning of being a school ambassador and representing the community. School spirit is so important and helping them realize the impact of everyone supporting everyone is refreshing.

I grew up dancing and cheering then danced at the University of Memphis (Memphis State). my coach left such an influence on me and set the bar so high. I absolutely feel like I have the same opportunity, and I hope that one day every dancer can look back and realize what they learned from being a part of my team!


Andriy Velchko, Blue Suede Ballroom Owner 

I started dancing when I was ten in Ukraine. Then I moved to the U.S. and worked for a local chain dance studio for more than six years before I opened my own studio. It (dance) was very popular in Europe, and when I moved here in 2000, it was really kicking off.

For Ballroom, it’s more popular for adults, especially in the South. It’s a very nice social activity, and it’s good exercise. The most popular dances are salsa, swing, waltz, and tango, but we can teach over fifteen types of dances. Also, we have lots of wedding couples come in! This is not just couples getting married, it’s also parents trying to get ready for the wedding, Father/daughter dances, and mother/son dances.

Everybody can dance. We have people of all ages come in. Sometimes when people think about dance lessons, they think they cannot do it. But once they come in, we rarely have students who only do one lesson. If someone feels like they’re getting exercise and they’re having fun, it will become their hobby for life.


Katie Kirkpatrick, Page Robbins 

Dance is super important and fun for our participants, and it may surprise some people that those with memory loss,parkinson’s, and the elderly can dance.Dance is really a celebration of music and movement, and we love to celebrate things here. when our clients  dance, they’ll talk about their high school and college days. The music and dancing brings them back to when they were young and carefree.

At the prom, we try and include as many people as we can. Even the clients in wheelchairs, we try to get them out there to participate in the dancing. It’s really neat to see our participants and the high school students singing the same songs and dancing their own moves. Our participants will start doing moves that are reminiscent of swing dancing and those kind of steps they learned a long time ago. It was great to see them dancing around.

We often break into song and dance here at Page Robbins. Any time we have music on, there’s a chance that someone’s dancing. Dancing and music are definitely food for the soul.


Haley Thomas, Houston High School Pom Squad Sponsor

I started working at Houston High School in 2006 in the classroom. When the Sponsor was leaving, word got out that the position was available, and I was interested. I did dance when I was in Houston Middle School, and I always liked the school spirit aspects of it (dance). Becoming the Pom Squad Sponsor just felt like a natural way to be involved and give back to the school. So when one of the Vice Principals said, ‘How would you like to be our Pom Sponsor?’ I said ‘I am in!’ and I’ve been doing it ever since.

I want my team to be leaders! If other people see what good they’re doing to help Houston and support the athletics, then other people will fall in line as well. I encourage these girls to use practice as a way to let out frustrations and to escape whatever happened that day. I want them to use each other as a support system to really get through things. Dance for us is a competitive sport that supports the school, and we consider that leadership role in the athletic department a privilege.


Julie Knowles, Collierville Ballet Director

I’m a native Memphian and started dancing with the original Memphis Ballet. When I met my husband at the University of Memphis, I decided to stay here (Memphis), and we decided to go into the arts together. It’s been a joy for us to pull our talents together. With his degree in music and theatre experience, along with my experience in dance, it seemed natural  for us to go into this together.

We’re trying to deliver the true, technical training parents want for their children, and a lot of parents come here because they want an alternative to cheerleading and pom dancing. I think we provide a good compliment to those styles of dancing. You have a big responsibility as a teacher to make sure you’re training safely and that their bodies are developing age appropriately before you push them further. We have worked with children of all types, including those with disabilities, and we try to provide something for those parents so that they too can enjoy dancing! I even have great fun with our adult classes!


Ginny Mount, Ginny Mount School of Dance Owner 

I started dancing when I was in the second grade. My parents carried me to dance class, and I haven’t stopped dancing since! I’ve always loved dance and was a majorette in high school and twirled baton. I started teaching (dance) the year I graduated (high school), and I’ve taught since 1977. I opened up my own studio in Hickory Hill in 1985, and our first recital was in 1986. I had two locations at that time, one at Hickory Hill and one in Collierville. Our first recital for Collierville was in 1996, and the studio has just grown in the last 24 years!

The kids out here (Collierville) are remarkable and dance is  a good outlet for them to express themselves and learn! I have students that now bring their children to my dance class! Once a part of Ginny Mount School of Dance, always a part of Ginny Mount School of Dance is how I look at it! We are the oldest dance studio in Collierville, and it is special to see some of my students come full circle. I laugh because I’m a real-life grandmother. I have two grandkids, but I also have a lot of grandkids at the studio. It’s just wonderful!


May/June 2020 Tour Collierville Magazine