Mountain View Dance teacher revamps operation to lower student stress

  • Tammy Thompson of Mountain View Dance in Sunderland dances in her at-home studio. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Tammy Thompson of Mountain View Dance in Sunderland hopes to reduce student stress by eliminating uniforms, limiting the studio’s online presence and minimizing the number of competitions. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/22/2019 6:32:27 PM
Modified: 8/22/2019 6:32:16 PM

SUNDERLAND — Tammy Thompson has made dance her life’s work, running Mountain View Dance out of her home on North Mountain Road for 29 years. But she also sees flaws in the industry and hopes to combat its pressures, especially on young women.

“There is a certain level of inner criticism that gets developed,” Thompson said, “when you know you’re being watched for performance, for weight, everything that encompasses a dancer.”

She has already made an effort to quell stress among her students, who range from toddlers to adults, declining to enter the younger children into dance competitions for some years.

“I tell my kids, ‘I don’t want you to compete, because the love of dance gets lost,’” said Thompson, whose own dance career started later than most, at age 10.

This year, she is taking another stab at the issue, eliminating formalities she believes can place unnecessary pressure on students and parents.

“This year, I’ve said, ‘I’m going back to the roots,’” Thompson said.

Among changes she is making, she has replaced the annual recital held at Frontier Regional School with a more casual end-of-year concert at the studio. She has also eliminated costumes, which parents were required to purchase bi-annually, and introduced a uniform students can wear year after year.

To Thompson’s surprise, parents have responded positively to these changes, she said.

“They’re overjoyed, like out of control overjoyed,” Thompson said. “I did not get that it was so stressful. I thought it was stressful for me. I didn’t think it was stressful for them.”

Another change Thompson has decided to make is to minimize the studio’s online presence by only disseminating information on a piece of paper once a month.

“I think what happens is, when people think it’s everywhere, they don’t pay as much attention,” Thompson said. “I think it’s a sad state of affairs that we have to have a phone on us 24/7 and we’re all swiping and looking. I think it keeps people out of the present moment.”

With these changes, Thompson has reduced the cost of her classes. Students pay $40 per month for a weekly class, down from a former monthly rate of $55. Additional classes are offered at a discount.

Classes are capped at about 10 students, she said.

There are some financial risks associated with eliminating competitions and other formalities, Thompson said. While she feels strongly about keeping her studio aligned with her values, she admitted that doing so is not always the most lucrative option. And she added that keeping the studio afloat has become more difficult as schools have increased after-school programming.

“It’d be much more lucrative if I did this competition,” Thompson said. “But I wouldn’t be able to sleep in bed at night.”

Visit Mountain View Dance’s website at mountainviewdance.com for more information about classes, or call 413-665-7679.

Reach Grace Bird at gbird@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 280.




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