It started out simple, a detached two car garage, wood floors, a mirrored wall and 15 dancers.
Now celebrating its 15th year as an Oakdale business, Pointe of Dance Studio (commonly known as POD) continues to feel the love from its established Ackley Circle location, as well as its Reno, Nevada studio, opened in 2015.
Business owner and founder Rachel Turnage began the business from a passion that needed to be tapped. Since the age of 3, she herself is a dancer, so opening a studio seemed a natural fit.
“When I was growing up, dance was a place for me to be me,” she shared. “It’s a place to go and feel your heart. It has been a healing place for me.
“What keeps me inspired, is to be able to give that to the kids around me,” she continued. “That’s what keeps me going.”
Turnage, along with the help of her late husband Jason, began the business in 2002. He, the laborer, transforming the space, and she pounding the pavement via flyer distribution in her Burchell Hill neighborhood.
Today POD hosts two locations, offering close to 60 classes to over 250 students, including an Oakdale competitive dance team.
As the dancer turned studio owner speaks of growth, opportunity, staff challenges and demographic research one thing becomes apparent. Turnage doesn’t only love, but understands, the business of dance.
“I’m very open to learning new things from new people,” she said.
Expanding on her knowledge and seeking out those who share her passion has been instrumental to both the studio growth as well as its owner. Turnage shared relationships formed through a Twinkle Stars group has benefitted her as well as the studio and its procedures tremendously.
“It has allowed me to hire employees and train them really fast,” she said of the partnership with the group. “Everything is on-line, You Tube tutorials, curriculum, everything. We’re still a very family oriented dance studio, but having all that automated gives us the time to focus on what we love … dance.”
Early on however, the lessons of building and running a business came from her husband, co-founder of the popular Oakies Board Shop as well as screen printing business Apparel Graphics. Turnage lost her husband to cancer in 2012, but his legacy of hustle and drive continue to motivate, as well as inspire the dancer.
“I had a passion and it grew from there,” she said, as she recalled with emotion the early days and lessons with her soul mate, “but you have to pay the bills. When you start something like that you don’t think about those things.
“It is so fun and humbling to look back and think what were we doing?” she stated honestly of their unconventional start. “But you have to start somewhere. I honestly wouldn’t change it.”
Still, running a business, with locations in two states, isn’t always easy.
“In business we sometimes face insurmountable circumstances, and not all days go as planned,” Turnage confided, noting the behind the scenes challenges of owning and maintaining a business. “But none of that compares to the joy we get back. My biggest joy is getting to see our students’ precious faces – full of life, hope, joy and dreams. They remind me to see this world through their eyes and that is absolutely the most rewarding gift. They give me life. They remind me to just keep going.”
But Turnage isn’t one to rest on her laurels. As her Reno location begins to follow a growth pattern rivaling that of the Oakdale ‘mother ship,’ she continues to look for opportunities to bring dance to communities.
“We are currently in the process of building a non-profit organization that would benefit the youth and enhance the performing arts in our community and surrounding areas,” she shared.
“It’s one of the biggest things I’ve wanted to do,” Turnage said, sharing a dream of also traveling with her team of teachers to another country during the ‘off season’ to share the gift of dance in orphanages.
“I want to do it full time,” she said of the non-profit vision and partnering with area schools as well. “It’s a bigger message than just dance. We need to support each other no matter what.”
Turnage believes anything is possible with the strength and commitment of her team of professionals and their shared passion for the young and dance. She noted that their shared philosophy is striving to be better every day, in life and in business.
“At our last performance, I was bringing some of our little twinkles on stage,” Turnage noted. “Before the curtain opened, I said “smile big and have fun up here!” One little girl said, “I am amazing!”, I said, “yes you are girl! Don’t ever forget that.”
The belief that young ‘Twinkle’ expressed in herself is what Turnage and her team are all about.
“That is exactly why we do what we do. If just one little girl feels empowered, we’ve done our job.”
To add to the holiday festivities, POD will host its annual Dance and Dessert event on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. at Magnolia Elementary School. Tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door.
For additional information on classes and POD visit www.pointeofdancestudio.com