Amy Redmond Waran can clearly remember her first dance class at the tender age of 5.
“I remember learning all five ballet foot positions,” she beams. “Even when I wasn’t taking class, I would practice them all the time.”
Waran’s fondness for the art of dance can be traced back to those first lessons, where she remembers wearing butterfly wings and dancing like “beautiful butterflies” around the room.
“I thought it was awesome!”
These fond memories were just seedlings that would eventually grow into a lifetime love of dance and lead Waran to open her very own dance studio in Hollister in 2013.
Waran even gave her studio a moniker possibly ripped from her beloved childhood memory of dancing with wings: Flying Colors Dance and Fitness.
While the San Benito High School graduate originally had plans to teach the fundamentals of dance at a college level, Waran says it wasn’t until her first teaching job at the Bay Area’s Tiffany’s Dance Academy that she fell in love with teaching children, especially the youngest dancers.
“I just adored passing on what I knew about dance to kids and seeing how excited the kids were to learn about dance,” she says. “It was a total blast!”
Her repertoire of work proves her qualifications. After earning her undergraduate degree in theater arts (dance) from UC Santa Cruz, she received her MFA in dance, choreography and performance from University of Hawaii, Manoa in 2008.
In high school Waran lived with her mom in Sonora for a couple of years so she could take classes with Suzanne Stallen Katsartsky, a former soloist with the San Francisco Ballet.
“[Katsartsky’s] teaching style was very traditional, disciplined and strict,” Waran says. “Under her tutelage I developed a true love of ballet technique and an appreciation for the discipline and skill involved in studying ballet.”
Waran began her studio with just six students, five years later, she has 145 each week.
“We totally outgrew our last location” on Lana Way, she says, adding that her previous location had only 625 square feet of dance studio space.
“Most of our classes sold out last year, and our lobby space was always really crowded with parents,” Waran says. “It was time to move.”
Waran was lucky enough to find a downtown location at 320 Fourth St. that she thought would attract more foot traffic.
“We were located out by the airport/industrial park area before and had no walk-ins or street view,” she recalls. “I had to grow the studio through positive word of mouth and a lot of marketing.”
Since her move on July 9, she’s already had walk-ins visit her sprawling 2,800-plus-square-foot studio, which has two dance studios and two comfortable waiting areas.
And she’s hoping for more walk-ins on Saturday, Aug. 18, when her new studio holds its open house from 1-4pm, with a ribbon cutting event at 1:30pm. The studio will offer a free gift to the first 25 guests who register for classes and will offer 20 percent off dance apparel purchases.
Visitors will be able to learn about the many classes the studio offers, such as the classical dance styles (ballet, jazz, tap, and contemporary) and creative movement classes for younger students, as well as Zumba Kids and Zumba Kids, Jr. classes.
They can also learn about the studio’s Mommy and Me class, Intellidance, which Waran says not only helps newborns to 5-year-olds with cognitive, emotional and physical development, but also brings moms together—“especially new moms”—for friendship and support.
Some of the studio’s staff of qualified teachers will also be at the open house, all who include Raeann Collison (who specializes in tap dance), Kimberly Giles (Intellidance and creative movement instructor), and Veronica Vasquez (certified Zumba and Zumba Kids instructor).
Giles says she is very excited to be in a bigger space that is able to accommodate more dancers and their families.
“[Waran] creates a very welcoming space for her dancers, dance families and dance teachers,” Giles says. “Her passion and love for dance really shines through in everything she does. Amy is an amazing dance teacher…among other things!”
Parents agree. Jennifer Brummet, who’s daughter is a student at the studio, says Waran’s love for dance is evident in the way she teaches.
“Amy inspires her students to do better and be better than they think they can be,” Brummet says. “You will not meet a kinder, more genuine person than Amy. Any parent looking to enrich their child through dance should hope they can find someone as special as Amy and her wonderful studio.”
Waran’s younger sister, Kaitlyn Redmond, who learned ballet from her sister, is thrilled that Waran has the new space to teach the youngsters.
“The new studio is an amazing space; Amy worked so hard to make it the best it can be for both students and the parents of the younger dancers,” she says. “I couldn’t be more proud of my sister. She turned her passion into a successful career that makes her happy to go to work every day. It’s admirable.”
As for Waran, she couldn’t imagine having it any other way. “I can’t remember a time that I didn’t want to dance,” Waran says. “I just came out loving it!”