Dance Arts Studio was founded by Sandra Stokes in 1970 at 614 Poplar Street in Macon. Classes were offered in ballet, tap, jazz and pointe. Jean Weaver purchased the studio and presented her first recital at Porter Auditorium, Wesleyan College, in May 1977. The school flourished under her leadership. She focused on classical ballet training as the foundation for all students training at the school. Many of her students have extended their ballet training into college, pre-professional dance programs, and professional dance companies. Two of her sons, Sam Weaver and Charlie Weaver, danced professionally after beginning their training at Dance Arts. Her daughter-in-law, Karen Burns Weaver, danced professionally and performed the lead role of Sugar Plum Fairy for many years in the Nutcracker of Middle GA production, as well as teaching summer intensives at the school and choreographing for Middle GA Youth Ballet. Mrs. Weaver directed the school for forty years.
In July 2016, Jean sold the school to Laura Lengel. Laura began dance training at age four in Danville, VA, studying at the Anne Boyer School of Dance and Martha Fowlkes Dance Academy. She studied Cecchetti technique. At Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA, she studied with Kathy-Harty Gray (Graham Technique) and Sonja Dragomonivic-Haydar. After graduating from Mary Washington College with a BA degree in Dance, Laura danced in Unto These Hills, the outdoor drama detailing the history of the Cherokee Indians. She moved to Macon the following fall and began teaching at Wesleyan College. Laura met Mrs. Weaver while teaching at Wesleyan College and soon began teaching classes at Dance Arts, Gladys Lasky School of Ballet, and Macon School of Gymnastics. Laura taught full time at Dance Arts through 1991.
In the following years, Laura taught at Dance Arts periodically while working with her husband’s business and raising four children. She became a board member of Middle GA Youth Ballet in 1997, serving for 20 years in many capacities and joined the artistic staff in 2013. She also served as Assistant Director for Nutcracker of Middle GA 2013-2015. Laura has also performed in and choreographed for productions at Ingleside Baptist Church. In 2011, in coordination with the JumpStart program at Ingleside, she started the Worship Moves Dance Ministry, training students in creative movement with an emphasis on leading worship.
Many teachers have proven influential through the years at Dance Arts: Kathy Padgett-Lewis, Kathy Hess, Lisa Coleman, Lizz Walker, Karen Burns-Weaver, Michelle Walker, Robert “BJ” Hilbun, Lindsay Crisp, and Alice Sheridan. Alice Sheridan began her dance career as a student for Mrs. Weaver at Dance Arts, graduated from North Carolina School of the Arts, and danced professionally. Alice returned to Dance Arts as a faculty member for Mrs. Weaver in 1987. She continues as a full time ballet and pointe instructor and choreographer, equipping ballet students for further study at the pre-professional, college and professional levels. Lindsay Crisp began teaching at Dance Arts after graduation from University of Georgia in 2003. She continues as a full time pre-ballet, ballet, pointe, jazz and modern teacher and choreographer.
As Dance Arts moves to our new location in Midtown Macon, Laura remains dedicated to continuing classical ballet training as the foundation for technique and progress for all Dance Arts students.