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Meet KC Emberson and Kelly Gammill of Dance Academy West in Douglasville

Today we’d like to introduce you to KC Emberson and Kelly Gammill.

KC, Kelly, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In 2002, an opportunity arose to open the studio. I was 21 years old, in college, on my way to becoming a middle school teacher. I wasn’t sure if teaching school was the direction I really wanted to go, and knowing that there were not any dance studios in Douglasville that offered training like what I had received growing up, I took the opportunity as a sign from God…and I went for it! At that time, I had only lived in Douglasville a couple of years. I had grown up in Cobb, dancing several hours a week, receiving strict ballet training and learning that ballet was the foundation of all dance. I knew that I wanted to build a studio with the same type of focus on proper technique. I also knew I wanted to offer something really special and unique when it came to the theatrical experience of our yearly recitals…this inspiration came from my aunt who owned a dance studio in Chicago for over 40 years.

The first few months were difficult, as I quickly learned that there was much more to running a dance studio than teaching dance classes. The business aspect was daunting, but I had some wonderful friends and mentors who helped me learn the ropes of the business side of things. It was also within the first few months that I met Kelly. Kelly was looking for a job and she quickly jumped on board as a dependable teacher. It was soon after that, that she became invested in the company as part owner. I knew that Kelly would be a great asset to the studio because she had her Musical Theater degree, and being able to offer Musical Theater classes was one of the things I wanted to incorporate from the beginning, but it was an area that I had not been trained in. So…when I met Kelly…well…there was my second sign from God!

Over the past fifteen years, Kelly and I have built something that takes our breath away. We have provided proper dance training to hundreds of children and families. We have had dancers graduate and move on to use their training in college and to even be paid professionally. We have built a wonderful staff of teachers, both of us humble enough to know that all of what we are and all of what we have become could never have happened without our most loyal teachers. Our end of the year recital is one of the things we are best known for, as we go above and beyond to provide our students with a true theatrical experience that incorporates dancing, singing, and acting. We also have a special group of kids (and parents) who make up The Company of Dance Academy West. These dancers compete and perform in addition to their weekly dance classes. They attend conventions, and take advantage of dance opportunities outside of DAW. They are committed, passionate, hardworking, and talented.

Over the past fifteen years, we have grown in our personal lives. Marriage and children made their way into the picture all while we were growing the studio. We have worked hard, and leaned to overcome obstacles. Kelly miraculously beat an extremely aggressive form of cancer a few years ago. It was a scary time for her, her family, and also her dance family. Because that is what we are. All of our students and their parents, our amazing staff…they are our family. When times get tough…as they have from time to time…we know that we have each other and that is just another thing that makes DAW so special.

Moving forward our biggest hope it to provide this amazing dance training to as many children as possible. To be leaders within our community. To inspire, enrich, and empower our dancers. We are just a little dance studio in Douglasville, but we are strong and the opportunities we provide are huge!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Small community with several competing dance studios
Two young women trying to start and run a business, while starting families of their own
The need to find and afford larger spaces due to quick growth
Balancing our own families and kids
Kelly’s battle with Leukemia

We’d love to hear more about your business.
DAW was founded in 2002 with goals to provide quality dance instruction to the residents of Douglas County. Our amazing faculty is comprised of experienced, loving instructors. And our unique dance program provides students with a fun and rewarding dance experience.

We have invested in a beautiful studio with properly sprung flooring systems and parent observation windows.

We are known for our strict ballet regime and producing properly trained dancers. We are also well known for our spring performances which incorporate dancing, singing, and acting. We are the only local studio that offers Musical Theater.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up I was shy and determined. I loved to dance, but knew that it put a financial strain on my parents. There were some years I chose other activities because I knew dance was so expensive. Attending college with a good dance program, to continue my dance training was not really an option because of the cost; I was pushed to attend a local college and so I thought that my dancing days were over. The opportunity to open DAW allowed me to use my childhood training in ways I never thought I would. Now I am passionate about helping my students chase their dreams.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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