Escalon dance studio making all the right moves
BY MARG JACKSON
Andreane Shearer didn’t know her life path would bring her to Escalon … or to own a dance studio … but there are literally hundreds of people around the region that are glad it did.
The owner and head instructor at Powerhouse Dance Studio in Escalon, the local resident oversees the business that features weekly classes in a number of dance genres for all ages and abilities, offers Zumba fitness classes and yoga for adults, tumbling, competitive dance teams and more.
The Escalon dance studio was originally opened by Jaclyn Ortiz and started in a small location at 1515 First Street; it was purchased by Shearer a few years later, in 2011. As the business expanded and added more options, they outgrew the 1515 First facility and, in January 2013, moved to their current location at 1405 First Street.
Ballet, jazz, tap, tumbling, hip hop, lyrical, toddler classes, Mommy & Me and adult fitness are among the offerings. Also, Shearer said the first class is free, so for those who might be interested in giving a specific class a try, they can do the first one for free to see if it is something they want to pursue.
The building is also constantly being upgraded, with a different project every summer, noted Shearer, to improve the workout space, viewing areas and comfort for participants and observers.
“Every day, from morning to evening, we have classes,” Shearer shared of the hectic Monday through Friday pace.
Powerhouse also works with some home schooled students, with the dance classes helping them meet their physical education requirements. Gateway Academy, the home school charter program in Escalon, is among those that work with Powerhouse for the phys ed classes.
“For adults, we have yoga and Zumba classes in the morning and adult hip hop in the evening, the hip hop has become very popular with the men,” Shearer noted.
Along with the physical benefits, Shearer said dancing is a great form of self-expression and she is proud that the dance studio helps participants gain confidence in themselves.
“We do the Modesto Junior College showcase, it’s the second weekend of May and this year we had about 200 students there,” she said. “We had both rec and comp students showcasing routines Friday night and Saturday night that weekend.”
Powerhouse currently has close to two dozen students in its competitive elite classes and from August through December, they work on routines and choreography, preparing for the January through May travel and competition schedule. The group travels for events in areas including Fresno, Stockton, Dublin, Los Angeles and more.
Tumbling classes for preschoolers are hosted each Thursday morning at the Grange Hall in Escalon.
“The owner there works with us,” Shearer said of having the tumbling and Mommy & Me classes at the Main Street hall.
As for the recreational classes, Shearer said everyone can find something to enjoy.
“I’m a natural at tap and hip hop,” she said of what she likes the most.
In her early years, though, it was a different sport that occupied Shearer’s time.
“I grew up as an ice skater,” she explained. “In 1996, our family moved from Canada to California.”
She no longer had the easy access to ice so she took off the skates but continued the dance moves. That led her to getting more involved in dancing and she pursued it in college, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Theater/Dance in 2008.
“I taught at a few studios here and there, then I found Powerhouse,” Shearer said.
She worked with Ortiz and, in 2011, the pieces fell into place for Shearer to take the plunge and purchase the business.
“I never thought I was going to be here,” she admitted of being a female business owner in small town Escalon. “There was a huge learning curve but I’m really proud of the opportunities I’ve been able to provide.”
Shearer pointed to the staff she works with as being among the best and said they are truly like a family.
Along with Shearer, the staff includes competition choreographer Liz Hallack and dance instructors Reya May, Amber Blankenship, Bethany Edwards, Jakkie Cerna and Paislie Taylor, along with tumbling instructor Tatiyana Lovins.
“I also just hired a new male instructor, Shean Bautista, so we will finally be offering a little break dancing,” Shearer explained. “Most of my teachers live in the Modesto area, they’re really dedicated individuals and I’d say 70 percent of them are in college studying dance.”
Reya May serves as an all-around teacher, skilled in many genres, and will step in to take over the business while Shearer is on maternity leave, her second child due soon.
There are classes in the morning, roughly from 8:30 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Friday, followed by a break, then the afternoon and evening classes run from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“We have dancing toddlers for those ages 2 to 4, they dance their little hearts out,” Shearer added of getting kids started early.
More information about classes and fees is available by calling 209-456-3581 or 209-691-8113, or by visiting online at www.powerhousedancestudio.com.
Overall, through it’s a line of work that she never anticipated getting into, Shearer said now, she can’t imagine her life without it.
“I have a great staff, I wouldn’t be able to do this without them,” she said. “They put in a lot of off duty time, a lot of hours not counted for and their dedication goes beyond this building. We have a love for each other, we respect each other, I feel very fortunate.”