City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Passion Project

At Legacy School of Dance, the emphasis is on family, fun and supporting one another

Article by Mary Ellin Arch

Photography by Emily Alwood, EmmiClaire Photography

Originally published in Midlothian Lifestyle defines “labor of love” as “work done for the sake of one’s own enjoyment or the benefit of others rather than for material rewards.” The example sentence reads, “He coached amateur baseball teams as a labor of love.”

That example sentence could also read: “Kimberly R. Ligatti and Mary Farr-Maynard operate Legacy School of Dance as a labor of love.”

The studio, located at 2441 Colony Crossing Place for seven of its 10 years, lives up to its promise to offer excellence in dance instruction through student-centered classes led by credentialed teachers. And for Kim, the artistic director, and Mary, the business manager, it’s also what they do for fun.

The two co-owners both have day jobs. Kim is a special education teacher at Providence Elementary School; Mary is the office manager for her husband’s company, Midlothian Glass and Door Inc. When they first met years ago, Kim was a teacher at the dance studio where Mary’s daughter took classes. An unusual opportunity to purchase the dance studio presented itself, and these two virtual strangers decided to take a leap of faith and buy it.

“We wanted to beef up the program and build a reputable, well-respected dance studio,” said Kim, who was a student at the former studio before she began teaching there.

"We bought a business that was run down and depleted of customers, and we committed to developing each dancer with individualized instruction to meet their needs," Mary said. "Training dancers with proper technique and encouraging scholastic achievement is extremely important. This is a passion project for us."

With Kim designing new dance programming and Mary steering the business end, the studio enjoyed immediate enrollment growth. It soon became apparent that the studio should move from its original location, an area in decline, which led to the move to Colony Crossing Place around 2013.

The studio employs about a dozen instructors, with dance degrees or professional experience. Students as young as 2 and all the way up to adults learn everything from ballet, tap, and jazz to contemporary, hip hop and acro.

“Some of our instructors have been with us from the beginning,” Mary said. “They are all like family to us.”

Positivity is a core value. “We really want our students to cheer each other on, to support other dancers when someone is having a bad day,” Kim said. “We want them to be there for each other.

“The stuff that happens on Dance Moms is not what you see here.”

The focus on strong programs, student-centered classes, experienced instruction and positive values led to enrollment of around 1,000 students at the beginning of 2020. And then, COVID-19 struck. Almost immediately, enrollment fell by about 30% as some parents withdrew their children from the program in response to the pandemic and quarantine.

The studio closed – but not for long.

“I refused to accept that we wouldn’t dance,” Kim said. Immediately, Kim and her instructional team prepared YouTube videos and resumed dance instruction virtually. “We were up and running in a week,” she said. “It was amazing.”

Spring recitals went on as well, albeit with significant changes including physically distanced seating arrangements by family groups. “We did mini-shows, in groups by age,” Kim said. “It just involved finding a different way of doing things.” She added, “We heard a lot of very positive comments about the mini-shows – especially from the dads.”

With the studio programming running from fall to spring, summer is the time for Kim and Mary to take some time off. Both say the studio – open from mid-afternoon through 9 p.m. – is the way they relax and unwind from their regular jobs. But they also enjoy traveling together, often on trips to New York and elsewhere to sample other dance programs and get new ideas. For now, due to COVID concerns, the Legacy ladies skipped any travel involving students, which previously had been scheduled every other year.

One thing that COVID hasn’t changed is Legacy’s core philosophy.

“Our theme this year is stronger together,” said Kim. “I chose this theme for our team, our entire studio, and for the Spring Showcase as I feel it is important for us to set the stage for our children and guide them on how to treat people through example. To teach them to support each other, even when there are differences. Respect those differences, offer kindness and love. No matter what we face, we will be stronger if we are united.”


Legacy School of Dance
2441 Colony Crossing Place, Midlothian 23112
(804) 272-9152

  • Kimberly R. Ligatti and Mary Farr-Maynard