BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Another interesting transformation has taken place in Fort Madison’s downtown Main Street district. Velocity Dance and Tumbling has opened in the former SSMID building at 822 Avenue G.
Alexis Sperber’s family is helping her fulfill a dream of becoming a competitive dance instructor and they’re all doing it together right here in Fort Madison and opened their business on August 23.
The building itself, which most recently housed an Edward Jones office, has undergone a huge transition in the past three weeks. The east door opens into a large dance studio and office area. A large run-and-tumble mat runs almost the full length of the east wall and then a large studio runs across the south half of the building.
A lounge area for parents that includes a snack bar and eventually a television, sits on the west side of the studio. In the back is a break room and along the western part of the dual front studio are two other dance studios where instruction would take place in a variety of dance styles including contemporary, jazz, which Alexis calls appropriate funk without the MTV flare, as well as poms classes and conditioning classes that integrate dance.
Alexis and her family have been involved in dance since her and two sisters Alecia and Alysea were young girls. Her mother Connie was also a dancer at a young age, so the family is bringing a lot of experience to the table.
She got her interest in dancing before she was a teenager after attending a class with a friend.
“I was 11 and my friend took me to her jazz class and I thought it was awesome,” she said. “And then I saw the video of one of my recitals and I was like, ‘Mom, why would you let me do that?”. I was distraught for a couple days and then that summer I enrolled in as much dance as I could and became very passionate about it. My parents were very supportive and told me that to get better I would have to get as much experience as possible.”
Her father, Jared, a former member of the U.S.Army, moved the family to the area in 2010 when he took a position with Pinnacle. He now works for Griffin Wheel in Keokuk as a maintenance supervisor. Alexis said her parents have worked hard their whole life, sometimes upwards of 70 or 80 hours a week raising their family. It was their goal to someday have their own business.
“We grew up a dance family and my mom was a dancer growing up and she wanted to at some point have a studio, she went to school for business and had kids and it got put off but we just kept going on with life. We just kind of got on the path of it. We were originally going to open in Illinois, but they are doing some crazy things with their taxes.”
Alexis has been teaching on and off for the past eight years and has taken a program at a junior high in Seattle to a national competition. She says that’s where she really grew as an instructor and developed her passion. She said her sister Alecia is now teaching younger classes of dance at the studio and her youngest sister Alysea is getting in as much performing as possible.
“My little sister is super into it, and I think her plans are to have a competing tumbling team, but right now we’re just doing recreational tumbling instruction.”
Her parents purchased the building and own the apartments upstairs and have been involved in the project from the beginning, including coordinating the renovation work.
Sperber said she hopes someday her parents can use the business to retire so she can give back to them for all that she’s given to them.
“My parents have been working very, very hard my whole life, I mean like 70 and 80 hours a week. I was very supportive of them opening this so maybe they didn’t have to work so hard,” she said. “I always assumed, we had talked about opening a studio jokingly like ‘Oh.. how great would that be’. So I always thought I would be doing something like this but in a bigger city. But we kept putting it on the table as something we all wanted and I was pretty hesitant because I had to think forward for 10 years and I was like “What?…I don’t know this area, or these people and we hadn’t done a whole lot of research in Fort Madison, but I could see with the activity going on here that the town was growing, which is great.”
She said the name Velocity was lost on her at first, but she started to think about the speed of life and how fast the world turns and then the name was perfect, and came up with a logo.
“I thought of this logo and then my sister made it on Word and took it to our guy and he was able to put this together and it’s just amazing,” Sperber said.
The logo is a picture of the world with dancers in different poses along the circumference.
Now Sperber has set a goal for 100 registered dancers before the end of the year and right now the studio has about 30.
Sperber said she wants to offer a different set up than other schools by introducing dancers to competitive dancing at younger ages. She said most other schools offer combo classes for younger students so they get exposed to different styles.
“What I’m hearing from dancers locally is that a lot of the kids can’t compete until they get to a certain age, but we want to try to get ages 5 to 18 to compete,” she said.
She’s also offering some yoga classes with new classes set to begin Oct. 3 with a morning and early afternoon class.
“I picked up the yoga to keep busy and I became really passionate about it and it’s been getting a lot of attention recently from the adult crowd, which I really appreciate.”
Sperber said the best way to get more information or to contact the studio is via its website at www.velocitydanceandtumbling.com or on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/velocitydanceandtumbling/.
Memberships are paid on a monthly basis and adults have the option for punch cards which can be used to try different classes and styles to find their favorites.