From Princesses to Pilates – Next season at Sonya’s Dance & Fitness

Published 3:37 pm Thursday, May 25, 2023

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By Courtney Rice

Sonya’s Dance & Fitness ended its 28th season on April 29 with a live production of “The Enchanted Forest” at the Ritz Theatre in downtown Greenville. The performance featured a whimsical world with colorful characters including unicorns, mermaids, rainbows, fairies, dragons, a King and Queen, and little princesses who encountered the mystical creatures throughout the forest. 

Enthusiasm from the audience during the final bows made the night feel like a success for owner Sonya Rice who said, “This is why we do what we do.” 

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The live-narrated story written by studio founder Sonya Rice was brought to life by dance studio students ranging in ages from 3 to 18 who performed in the dance styles of ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, ribbon dance, and comedy character dance. 

Rice is classically trained in ballet as well as in voice. She was a company member with the Montgomery Ballet Company, and attended voice training with Jefferson Davis College and their traveling jazz band. 

Over the years, Rice has incorporated more drama and theatrical aspects into her classes and productions. 

When she first opened Sonya’s Dance & Fitness in 1995, her dream was to one day operate  as a performing arts school offering art, drama, music, and dance. Rice said she envisioned “a mini Juilliard.”  Finding joy in sharing her passion for the theatrical arts with her students motivates Rice who said she especially enjoys  watching students express themselves through these modalities. 

When asked what Rice loves most about teaching, she shared, “I see children come through the doors at the beginning of the year, very shy and unsure of themselves, and then throughout the year, I start to see their personalities open up! I witness their self-esteem blossom and I get to watch them by the end of the year, stand on stage with big smiles on their faces, exuding confidence and shining! That means the world to me and makes everything worth it.”

Rosie McLain Till, mother of one of Rice’s younger students, Lynlee Grace Till, said the studio has been a blessing to the community., 

“Sonya’s dance studio has been such a blessing to our community for many years, and nothing about that has changed,” Till said. “It’s a wonderful thing in a small community like ours to know someone who has a heart and soul for the children they teach and the art of dance. I saw my daughter grow so much this past year and gain confidence, as well as a genuine love for dance.”

Though the dance studio is closed for the summer, Rice confirms there will be a 29th dance season with registration in August, and classes beginning in September. When schools resume, Rice said flyers go out to Butler and surrounding counties with upcoming classes and registration dates.

Rice looks forward to the upcoming season as plans are in the making for some surprises, including new dance classes, guest teachers, and adult classes. She will continue to offer yoga and specialty fitness classes for adults in the mornings and evenings starting in the Fall. 

“There is a lot of talent in Greenville, but the kids need the support, funding, and opportunity to pursue their special talents,” Rice said. “I hope to be able to offer these opportunities so we can give our youth and community a more well-rounded experience in the arts, creativity, and the wonderful world that comes from imagination.” 

She hopes to see you in the new season and is grateful for her hometown’s continued love and support. For more information, follow Sonya’s Dance & Fitness on Facebook and Instagram for current schedules in dance, pilates, and yoga.