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Dancemakers of Atlanta, Inc.

Dance Company Brings Pride, Hope, and Opportunity to Aspiring Dancers in South Fulton

Dancemakers of Atlanta, Inc. opened its doors in 2000 with three people on staff: the owners—twin sisters Lynise Heard and Denise H. Latimer—and an acrobatic teacher. Fast forward to 2021, and the company boasts 10 instructors; a front desk administrator; a Director of Operations, Jenay Dunlap Myers; and a company rehearsal director, Dancemakers alumnus Terrance Martin. Martin received a BFA from the University of the Arts and has had a successful career in New York, performing in many Broadway musicals in Equity Houses across the U.S. and Europe.

The COVID-19 pandemic tremendously impacted the studio in 2020 and 2021, causing the loss of nearly one-third of its students. Dancemakers of Atlanta has recovered this season with 250 students and recognition at the national finals of New York City Dance Alliance, receiving the Outstanding Studio Award for versatility in dance training in every style and age.

Lynise and Denise Heard grew up minutes from South Fulton. They started dancing at 9 years old after seeing a performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the “fabulous” Fox Theatre. The show inspired them so much they asked their parents if they could take dance classes. The pair danced through high school, and after graduating from Frederick Douglass, they furthered their dance careers on full scholarship at Southern Methodist University. After college, they moved to New York, where they lived and worked professionally for more than six years. As members of both Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild, they performed in Broadway musicals, tours, and films.

Teaching now for more than 30 years, Denise says, "Dancemakers has been our biggest accomplishment. We set out to share our dance experience and possibly train more students to a level that they could seek dance as a profession, but we did not know the impact this studio would make on the dance community."

Over 25 students have received dance scholarships to some of the top universities for dance, including Point Park University, Southern Methodist University, State University of New York (Purchase), University of the Arts, Marymount Manhattan College, Pace University, University of Southern California, New York University, and The Juilliard School. Dancemakers alum have also performed on Broadway and in major dance companies, including Alvin Ailey II, BODYTRAFFIC, Royal Ballet of Flanders, and Bill T. Jones, to name a few. Two alums have performed in Broadway hits, including “Bring It On,” “Cats,” “Wicked,” and “Hamilton.” Amber Jackson is currently in “Wicked,” and Shonica Gooden is in “Hamilton.” Lynise and Denise agree it has been a long but heartwarming and fulfilling experience.

"Being in dance opened so many doors for me that would never have been possible if I didn't dance," said Denise. "Dance gave me the confidence to know that I had a talent, and it occupied so much of my time that I did not have much wasted time and no time for getting into trouble." She continued, "It is exciting to see my students build this same confidence and go on to universities they more than likely would not have considered if they didn't receive dance scholarships."

Dancemakers of Atlanta prides itself on being the premier center of dance education in the Atlanta metropolitan area. For over 20 years, it has offered core classes that provide young dancers, ages 3 to 18, with a solid foundation to develop their talents and skills. Some stay only a while as they explore and experiment with various art forms, but the joy is in those that remain connected, coming back to teach and empower those behind with the hope to follow their dreams.

For more information, visit www.dancemakersofatlanta.com.

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