A local dance studio is facing the hard decision to close its doors for good, as storm damage repairs continue to eat away at funds. Freedom Dance serves inner-city kids at affordable prices, and now the community is trying to help save it.
The Freedom Dance Studio just opened in March, and it is already teaching dozens of kids both dance and life skills, but recent rains are washing away their hopes of staying afloat.
The Xplosive Dolls dance team is rehearsing for their Nov. 11 recital with a sad realization. This may be their last week in the studio they call home.
“This space was created as a safe space for young black dancers to come in and just be themselves,” says owner Shatima Bennett.
Bennett opened Freedom Dance after her passion for the art drew her away from a career as a forensic scientist. She says, “After I graduated from UCO I just couldn’t get away from dance.”
Now she encourages her students to follow their dreams, too, but they have to maintain As and Bs to compete and have study hall with a tutor before each rehearsal. The lessons stick.
Dance captain Acqureia Lay says, “Doing stuff easy or half-doing any work is not going to let them be what they want or get around in life.”
Providing affordable instruction has come at a cost, though.
“A lot of studios, they charge what they’re worth,” Bennett says. “What I did is, I made it accessible for everybody.”
In the past three months, Freedom's small profits have gone to fixing wiring and replacing the dance floor due to flooding. If Bennett cannot come up with money to pay the bills by the end of the month, she will have to move out.
Supporters launched a GoFundMe page and are offering services for the studio to raffle off to show these dancers that anything is possible.
No matter what, Bennett says, “To watch them grow and to watch them form the bonds that form and do the things that they never thought in their wildest dreams they would be able to do, it’s a humbling experience for me because I was a part of that.”
If you would like to help the dancers in person, they will be fundraising at the corner of Penn and Memorial on Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon. Saturday afternoon they will be back at the studio selling Indian tacos. The address is 8200 North Classen Boulevard, Suite 104.
To see the Xplosive Dolls in action, you can attend their next recital Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. on UCO’s campus. To connect with them on social media, click here.