Let’s Dance!

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By JAYNE THURBER-SMITH

Looking forward to taking some time off this summer? Dianne Copeland Adcock isn’t. She’s looking forward to conducting business as usual and has a full schedule planned at her Copeland Mills School of the Arts right here in Chesapeake. On top of offering summer dance classes, they are also hosting summer camps and intensives. This energetic commitment to her school and students probably contributed to Adcock being awarded the 2003 Business Woman of the Year by the National Congressional Committee in Washington DC.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade Dance Magic dancers from left to right: Kennedi Alsop, Hunter Trowbridge, Mikaela Waggoner, Megan Brengel, Taylor Johnson, Curtis Eichelberger, and Will Swafford (now performing in Disney World.)

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Dance Magic dancers from left to right: Kennedi Alsop, Hunter Trowbridge, Mikaela Waggoner, Megan Brengel, Taylor Johnson, Curtis Eichelberger, and Will Swafford (now performing in Disney World.)

Her Dance Magic team of dancers prefers working to taking time off also. They are busy performing at major events locally and across the country. Upcoming performances include Myrtle Beach’s Alabama Theater in August; the Miss America Parade in Atlantic City in September, the Luau Show performance at the Ron Jon Resort in Cocoa Beach Jan. 25 of next year, after which they go over to Disney World for their 22nd year of performing there. They will also dance at the opening and closing of the Washington DC’s National Cherry Blossom Parade next April, and they sometimes perform on Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruises.

Dance Magic member Aubrey Hubel started dancing at Copeland Mills at the age of 2 and is now 11. She enjoys everything about dancing and doesn’t let the pressure of the spotlight get to her.

“I always love coming to the studio no matter what’s going on,” she smiles sincerely. “Before a performance I might get nervous 25% of the time, but I help myself relax by counting backwards and then I say ‘I can do this.’”

Copeland Mills' Dance Magic performs during Grand Opening of Newmans Family Healthmart Pharmacy in Chesapeake

Copeland Mills’ Dance Magic performs during Grand Opening of Newmans Family Healthmart Pharmacy in Chesapeake
L to R: 1st Row: Kristen McCormick, Kennedi Alsop; 2nd Row: Mikaela Waggoner, Austin Gregory, Courtney Anderson, Abigail Newman; 3rd Row: Ashley Barks, Cassie Harbour, Kaci Hammond

Aubry’s teacher is also Adcock’s daughter, Shirley Turner. She graduated from ODU with her dance education degree and has the same work ethic as her mom. She recently returned to teaching just a few weeks after giving birth to her first baby.

“I am a workaholic,” Adcock asserts. “I’m here whenever the studio’s open and even when it’s not. I need to work on not doing that! I have a great staff so I know this place can survive without me.”

As a positive step in that direction, last summer Adcock left everything in her staff’s capable hands and took her first real vacation in twenty years. She was scheduled to be in California to be there for her student, Will Swafford, who was representing Virginia in the Mr. Dance of America competition.

“We also had a family reunion happening in Mackinac Island, Mich., so I asked Dad to drive cross-country with me,” she smiles. “At first he hesitated but I’m so glad he went with me. We spent three weeks on a true bucket-list trip of over 8,800 miles. From Michigan we went to Yellowstone and Las Vegas, then made it to the competition.

Chesapeake Christmas Parade – this is our 24 year.  Our floats are award winning, we ‘ve won 1st Place in the Grand Illumination Parade several years.   From left to right:  Emily Wiesner, Kimberly Eichelberger, Katie Sackel, Ashley Barks, Cassie Harbour, Hunter Trowbridge, Austin Gregory, Lizzie Dean, Danielle Barks, Megan Brengel (instructor), Santa, Mikaela Waggoner, Kristen McCormick, Kennedi Alsop, Leah Baker, Kaci Hammond, Riley Block, Courtney Anderson, Abigail Newman, Aubrey Hubel

Chesapeake Christmas Parade – this is our 24 year. Our floats are award winning, we ‘ve won 1st Place in the Grand Illumination Parade several years.
From left to right: Emily Wiesner, Kimberly Eichelberger, Katie Sackel, Ashley Barks, Cassie Harbour, Hunter Trowbridge, Austin Gregory, Lizzie Dean, Danielle Barks, Megan Brengel (instructor), Santa, Mikaela Waggoner, Kristen McCormick, Kennedi Alsop, Leah Baker, Kaci Hammond, Riley Block, Courtney Anderson, Abigail Newman, Aubrey Hubel

Her dad, Frank Copeland, is as dedicated as his daughter. At the age of 85 he’s been attending dance recitals for 55 years; first watching his daughters dance, then his grandchildren, then continuing to support Adcock’s studio dancers.

Adcock started Copeland Mills School of the Arts back in 1990. The studio quickly grew and now has four studio rooms, three music instruction studios and an adjoining full-service dancewear and costume retail store, Performers Alley. Her employees are all college-degreed and certified instructors in dance and music.

Copeland Mills and all their dance instructors are members of Dance Masters of America and hold true to the code of ethics and dance curriculum this prestigious organization stands for. Most of the dance instructors started at Copeland Mills when they were younger, went to college, and came back to teach.

Many of Adcock’s dancers and musicians go on after high school graduation to get scholarships for college and some work in the professional field.  Their most recent graduate, Will Swafford, is presently a full-time entertainer in Walt Disney World. It’s very rare for a dancer to be landing his dream job at such a young age. You can see him in many of the park’s productions, including Disney World’s Illumination Parade as Pete’s Dragon.

Dress rehearsal—cherry blossom inside  Costume Dress Rehearsal for National Cherry Blossom Festival Back Row:  Kaci Hammond, Courtney Anderson, Ashley Barks, Emily Crosby, Mikaela Waggoner Middle Row:  Abigail Newman, Lizzie Dean, Cassie Harbour, Kristen McCormick, Hunter Trowbridge, Danielle Barks, Riley Block, Austin Gregory Front Row:  Kimberly Eichelberger, Aubrey Hubel, Emily Wiesner

Dress rehearsal—cherry blossom inside
Costume Dress Rehearsal for National Cherry Blossom Festival
Back Row: Kaci Hammond, Courtney Anderson, Ashley Barks, Emily Crosby, Mikaela Waggoner
Middle Row: Abigail Newman, Lizzie Dean, Cassie Harbour, Kristen McCormick, Hunter Trowbridge, Danielle Barks, Riley Block, Austin Gregory
Front Row: Kimberly Eichelberger, Aubrey Hubel, Emily Wiesner

“Will loves it,” Adcock says. “He says that every day he goes to work behind the gates of the Magic Kingdom – it’s like he’s always on vacation. He shows my students it can be done.”

Hoping for the same kind of magic opportunity is Dance Magic’s 15-year-old Kristen McCormick who has been at the studio for 9 years.

“It’s a lot of fun travelling to represent Copeland Mills, all of us get along well,” she says. “I like going different places and seeing that our dances make people smile. My dream job is to dance at Disney.”

When they’re not on the road, Dance Magic is also very active in the community at grand openings, Senior Living facilities, special events and festivals.  Some of the highlight performances locally are Challenger Baseball, Surfers Healing, Steel Pier Classic, Norfolk Grand Illumination Parade and Chesapeake Christmas Parade.

Copeland Mills dancers take classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, modern, Polynesian and Musical Theater. Copeland also offers music students instruction in piano, drums, percussion, violin, viola, guitar, bass, vocal, and music theory.

When asked to compare her studio to any of the melodrama in the popular Lifetime series “Dance Moms,” Adcock laughs.

Nauticus kids Dedication of USS Wisconsin to Nauticus, 2001 We were in the parade and opening ceremonies. Christy Feldman, Will Swafford, Jessica Matthews

Nauticus kids
Dedication of USS Wisconsin to Nauticus, 2001
Copeland Mills kids in the parade and opening ceremonies.
Christy Feldman, Will Swafford, Jessica Matthews

“I’ve actually met the instructor, Abby Lee Miller,” she says. “She was respectful, nice, and funny. It bothers me when I see her dance kids crying sometimes, but you can tell they love her, and the rest of it is pure entertainment. As for here, the moms are my boss. If there are concerns I always listen to them. This dance company is serious business; some of the kids are here 5 nights a week, plus going out to performances. The parents have to sign an agreement that all my decisions are final and they have no say in placement or other things. I always have the kids’ interest at heart. Children shouldn’t be put in places where they would look out of place.”

Adcock has high hopes for her students but knows it’s not easy out in the dance world.

“When we have in-house auditions, they shouldn’t be in dance if it hurts their feelings to get cut,” she comments. “For every professional dancer who goes on audition, 1 out of 500 hears a yes. Someone with all her ducks in a row can still look for a year and not come up with anything. You may be the most beautiful, slender, glamorous girl with all the skills, and you could lose to a larger girl who has a strong comedic talent going for her.”

Adcock has won her share of dancing competitions, the monetary rewards from which came in handy for spending money during her college days. She was also a cheerleader at ODU basketball games when Nancy Lieberman played. She has made good use of her dance training that began at the age of 3 with Evelyn Ott in Virginia Beach. She took lessons from Ott for 22 years, along with teaching for her after she turned 15.

Another Dance Magic performer, 16-year-old Kimberly Eichelberger, started dancing at the age of 4 and loves everything about it.

“Dancing helps me express myself,” she says. “It gives me something to work at. I like the travelling, seeing new things and places.”

As much as they’re on the road, Adcock makes sure her students don’t miss much school time, booking most of their performances on weekends.

Dance Magic Performing Arts company.   Photo Shoot at the Polynesian Resort in Disney World.  21st Year performing in Disney World. L to R:  Front Row:  Lauren Scheiner, Hannah Martin, Riley Block, Ashley Barks, Kaci Hammond, Aubrey Hubel, Courtney Anderson, Abigail Newman, Emily Wiesner, Morgan Hubel Middle Row:  Savanna Dember, Hailey Smith, Makayla Clark, Katie Sackel, Kimberly Eichelberger, Leah Baker, Austin Gregory, Xavier Powell, Cassie Harbour, Lizzie Dean, Emily Crosby, Kristen Collins, Arikha Fletcher, Alexa Williams, Tristan Old Back Row:  Hunter Trowbridge, Kristen McCormick, Mikaela Waggoner, Danielle Barks, Kennedi Alsop

Dance Magic Performing Arts company. Photo Shoot at the Polynesian Resort in Disney World. 21st Year performing in Disney World.
L to R: Front Row: Lauren Scheiner, Hannah Martin, Riley Block, Ashley Barks, Kaci Hammond, Aubrey Hubel, Courtney Anderson, Abigail Newman, Emily Wiesner, Morgan Hubel
Middle Row: Savanna Dember, Hailey Smith, Makayla Clark, Katie Sackel, Kimberly Eichelberger, Leah Baker, Austin Gregory, Xavier Powell, Cassie Harbour, Lizzie Dean, Emily Crosby, Kristen Collins, Arikha Fletcher, Alexa Williams, Tristan Old
Back Row: Hunter Trowbridge, Kristen McCormick, Mikaela Waggoner, Danielle Barks, Kennedi Alsop

“I’m not sure if they know how lucky they really are to get into some of these places,” Adcock smiles, “but I know what they’ve done so far is a great resume builder.”

A good resume, along with hard work and dedication will get you places. Just ask Swafford and Adcock.

Copeland Mills is now enrolling for Summer Musical Theater Camps, Dance Intensive and Little Ballerina Camp & Fall Classes. Their spring dance recital is entitled “Seasons in Revue” and will be held at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk on Saturday June 15, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. For tickets please call 757-482-2528.

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