December 29, 2021
“I’ve wanted to own and run my own dance school since I was a little girl. So after college, I moved to New York City to continue my training in hopes of dancing full-time. After a back injury sidelined my professional career, I knew it was time to move home and open my own studio. I opened Drouin Dance Center in 2005, leasing just 2,500 square feet in the Dana Warp Mill in Westbrook.
One of my goals when I opened this business was to make dance accessible to everyone in our community. I didn’t want to deny someone because of their age, ability or income. Rather, I wanted a space where everyone could learn something new, feel welcomed and have fun.
Over the years, we have worked to create multiple programs in our studio in an effort to accommodate the various skill levels in dance. One of my favorite programs here is our dance classes for children with special needs. I love that we’re able to share our passion on a large scale, and that our studio gives everyone and anyone the chance to dance.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, I was honestly terrified. Dance classes had always been an in-person activity, so my first thought was ‘How could this business model even continue during a worldwide pandemic?’ After some brainstorming and research, I decided to take it to Zoom.
If schools were going to learn from home, I thought, dance classes could follow the same model. My amazing faculty and I took a week to set up all of our classes through this video platform. We had to change many of our lesson plans and teaching styles to accommodate for less space, but we were able to pull it off and I was so proud of everyone involved.
I’ve always thought of myself as a resilient person with a lot of grit, but navigating a business through a pandemic has forced me to confront myself and do a little soul-searching. If anything, I’ve learned that it’s important to just go with the flow and be flexible with what life throws your way. Collaboration is key, both with employees and other business owners, and we can learn a lot from one another. It’s important, too, that we lean on each other for support when we need it.
Dance really is an activity based around the concept of support. Kids and adults alike want to try new things and explore activities, and we’re here to be supportive no matter what. There are those that want to dance here and there for fun, and those that want to commit to competition training. And that’s fine with us. Everyone has their own goals from dance, and it’s our priority to make that happen for them.
Aside from dance classes, it is important to us that we work to help our community become stronger and that we care for one another. We love hosting food drives for local school and community food pantries, collecting warm winter items for those that need them and volunteering.
I feel that as teachers and leaders, we can take these learning opportunities to guide our students and families to help give back, and hopefully will be able to continue helping each other throughout their lifetime.” — Danielle Drouin, Owner of Drouin Dance Center in Westbrook
Congratulations to Drouin Dance Center on being selected as one of the winners of the Heartbeat of Our Community Award!