September 1, 2020
Nicole Saucier, owner of Steppin’ Out Dance Center in Saco, will teach for her 30th dance season this Fall. At the spry age of 3, she began taking classes with Gladys Ruben, then Ms. Stacey. As her love for dance evolved and developed, Nicole began to clog and joined the Downeast Cloggers team. In 8th grade, she was offered an opportunity to teach alongside a mentor, Wendy Gibson, and took over to teach clogging classes solo. Nicole built the program up through high school.
When she graduated, Nicole and her tap teacher opened Steppin’ Out Studio together, and after two years, Nicole continued the studio on her own. She is so grateful to her tap teacher as he helped her get started. Her first studio was in Pepperell Square and as the studio acquired more students, Nicole expanded to a new studio on Common Street. 20 years ago, one of her Dance Dad’s who was in real estate found their current location, and Nicole has made it home to many dancers for the last two decades.
At the start of this year, everything Nicole knew about teaching and the dance community began to change due to the virus. When the schools closed, she and her staff put their heads together to find a solution to keep their dance community connected, engaged and inspired. Nicole said, “all of us were thinking, how do we go on from here? So we took a week to figure out a plan and decided we should utilize Zoom, and taught classes virtually for 9 weeks. It was not ideal but it kept us connected and we got to have some fun. For the younger dancers, we knew keeping them engaged would be a challenge so we did themed weeks where they could dress up for class, we did contests and games; we just had to find creative, different ways to make things interesting and most importantly fun.” Knowing dancers would have faced the challenge of remembering their routines without practice, using Zoom enabled the dancers to maintain and have fun.
Nicole and her staff have worked hard to keep up with the changing recommendations, while keeping themselves and their community safe and healthy. They have made so many changes, and their community has rallied behind them and are so happy the studio was able to continue to operate! Showcasing your routine is all part of the gig, and Nicole and staff got creative when deciding how to manage their recital.
They “camped” out at Bayley’s Campground for 4 days and did dress rehearsals, pictures and recordings for each routine. The recital will be showcased at the Saco Drive-in for dancers and families in August. They even worked together with the videographer to ensure they were dancing all together for the grand finale, which is what all the dancers are used to. They videotaped in different groups, but the videographer spliced it all together to provide a small piece of normalcy.
“We’ve made so many changes,” Nicole said, “and we have our brochure out for the next dance season. While there are so many unknowns, we are going to keep moving forward!”