Dance teacher’s wish coming true with downtown studio

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
One Hillsboro resident had a life-long wish come true recently, and she didn’t have to toss a coin in a wishing well to make the magic happen.

Vicky Mohn, owner of Vicky’s School of Dance, will finally be able to teach in a dance-school facility after 20 years renting rooms designed for other uses than plie´s and jete´s.

“As a little girl, I always used to dream of having my own dance studio,” Mohn said. “So I’m now living my dream.”

Scheduled to open next month, Vicky’s School of Dance will be located at 107 W. Grand, between Total Home Repair and Daylight Donuts.

Mohn once worked as a legal secretary but taught dancing for fun and as a way to unwind from her workday.

While living in Belleville 20 years ago, she began a dance program in earnest.

Her first local studio, about 14 years ago, was a rented room in the Hillsboro City Building. But dancing on linoleum laid over a cement floor is hard on the body.

Looking for a better facility, Mohn chose to rent the Hillsboro High School auditorium and use the stage for classes. She’s taught out of that facility for the past 12 years.

Dancing on the hardwood floor on the HHS stage was easier for her students, but she had to share her time with other activities that took precedence over her classes.

“The majority of the year we would spend in a classroom and not on stage,” Mohn said.

“We were spending so much time in a little classroom that we decided to look again and see what was available.”

In the past, Mohn and husband Gordon searched for a studio opportunity to rent and even looked at the location on Grand.

“But we saw that it was rented as offices and never realized that it would be available to tear out those walls,” Mohn said.

About a month ago, she got a call from her husband bearing good news-the owner of the office space, Paul Epp, was willing to take the walls down and convert it into a studio.

The carpet will be taken up and a masonite-wood floor installed in the 24- by 36-foot dance room.

“We went up and measured, and it’s the same size of the high-school stage,” Mohn said. “That will be wonderful.”

The front of the facility will have an office and small waiting area with chairs, and two restrooms will be available.

Toward the end of August, the Mohns plan to paint the studio interior, install a mirror on the widest wall, and put in a ballet bar-all in preparation for classes to begin on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Enrollment at Vicky’s School of Dance has more than tripled since Mohn taught classes in the city building.

“We started out with 38 students, and now we have 130,” she said. “And we’ve gone from two nights a week to four nights.”

Ballet, tap, jazz and even Irish tap dancing is offered in her school.

“Irish was very successful,” Mohn said. “It went over very well.”

Irish tap dancing was introduced in September and taught by Talisha Yoder, who will also teach pointe this year.

The Irish program was open to junior high and high school students last year, but Mohn said Yoder plans to also offer it to a third group-students in the fifth and sixth grades.

Mohn will teach the remaining classes, and two assistants will be helping her. Holly Lindsay has agreed to assist the first six weeks, and sister Suzy Lindsay will take over after volleyball season.

“They will help me as dance assistants so I can give my students more personal attention,” Mohn said.

Two or three days a week, Mohn also works part-time at Nancy’s Fashions. But after-school-hours and evenings are reserved for her passion-teaching dance.

Classes basically follow the school-year calendar-beginning in September and ending in May.

Depending on the day of the week, hours are 3:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. or 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday. And classes run from 45 minutes to 1 hour, 15 minutes.

That schedule means that the studio is vacant some evenings and Friday through Sunday during the week-an ideal opportunity for others to rent the unused space, Mohn said.

“I would like to see things like gymnastics, yoga and karate come in here,” she said. “I wouldn’t do it personally. But I would invite someone to come in and rent the facility, because everybody’s in the same situation I’m in. They’re all looking for places to rent, so this would be ideal-a wonderful opportunity for the community.”

Anyone interested in renting the space or enrolling for dance lessons could contact her at 947-3413 and leave a message on her answering machine, Mohn said.

A two-year lease has already been signed, and the first month’s rent has secured her dream.

Looking forward to a permanent home means more than a new facility-it will be easier on her busy lifestyle, too.

“I’ve always had to set up and take down everything,” Mohn said about carting all her equipment to the city building and the auditorium.

“I’ve had a half hour set-up time and a half hour take-down time added on to a long day.”

To her knowledge, Vicky’s School of Dance is the only dance school in Marion County, although classes are available in Newton and McPherson, Mohn said.

“And we handle students from all over-Marion, Peabody, Florence, Goessel, Linconlville, Lehigh and Durham-all over,” Mohn said.

Dance enrollment in the area has traditionally been geared to the younger members of the community-children from 3 to 18.

But there has been some interest in adult classes, and Mohn said she’s open to the idea in the future.

“I haven’t done it for a number of years because I didn’t want to tie up the school,” she said.

“But now that I have my own facility, I will definitely look for that possibility.”

Her excitement in the future studio bubbles over as she talks about the joys of teaching dance and the realization that her dream.

“I was a legal secretary for 12 years and just taught dance for fun,” Mohn said.

“Then it dawned on me that I could make a career of it. What makes my job easy is the talented children I work with. I just look forward to it every day.”

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