This week we are pleased to share Amy Berry. She and her husband have 2 teenagers and is the owner of Dance Fusion Center in Lansing. Read more about how this life long dancer went from working the State of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to owning a dance studio!
Her story is inspiring and her mom tips are spot on! 🥰
Welcome to Greater Lansing Area Moms, please introduce yourself!
I am 46 years old and have lived in Holt with my husband Wynn for about 18 years. We’ve been married for 24 years in September and have two teenagers, two dogs, and two cats! I am so grateful to have this supportive family who is my rock.
I was born in New Jersey but grew up in Owosso, Michigan and have always loved dance! I danced when I was young at Bohaty’s in Owosso and was in the marching band as the captain of the Majorettes who both twirled batons and danced.
After high school I attended Michigan State University, majoring in Environmental Science and Management from Lyman Briggs College, and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in 1998. I danced periodically with the MSU Motion M- Club. After college, dance fell by the wayside as my career as a scientist took shape and our kids were little so I was busy being a mom. I had about a 25 year career in the ecological field working for state, federal, and local agencies and in private ecological consulting. I’ve been a wildlife biologist, wetland ecologist, and worked on both the public and agency sides of wetland protection law. For almost the last decade I served as the statewide Wetland Policy Coordinator at the State of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (formerly DEQ). I really enjoyed working with the people there.
However, little did I know that God began directing me towards a different path a long time ago. After over a decade of not having dance in my life, in 2008 when my daughter was 2, I decided I needed to get moving again and have some “me time” so I joined a community ed Zumba Fitness class. It was fairly new at the time so I had no idea what to expect, but from the first few songs I was hooked and remembered how much I loved to dance! About a year later I got licensed to teach Zumba and so began my journey back into the dance world.
For over a decade I lived somewhat of a dual life as a scientist by day and dancer by night (yes, I realize how that sounds lol). I have met so many unique and fun people through Zumba, and it led to studying several forms of world dance and joining a professional belly dance performance troupe for several years. In my 30s I was again performing on stage and remembering the joy of dance! I also studied and began teaching hip hop, both the culture and the dance art form. I am particularly fascinated by the origins of dance genres and think acknowledging their roots is important to respect the culture they came from.
In 2011, my daughter began taking dance lessons, and after trying a few studios we landed at Fusion Dance Center that was in Holt at the time. Something about the people just felt like home for us. I taught Zumba and hip hop classes there as well as working various business aspects.
In 2020 I became co-owner of the studio after COVID hit and I volunteered to set up and run virtual classes, interpret the COVID requirements and protocol, and secured several grants to help the studio stay in business. In spring of 2021, I took over full ownership and basically had two full time jobs!
In January of this year, I made the tough decision to quit the State to run Fusion Dance Center full time and be able to fully focus on its development. My passion has always been to help people and make a difference in society, and I feel that the dance studio is that passion for me now where I can actually see the difference it makes. The pandemic has also made me realize how much kids need a place like this where they can be themselves, make connections with others, move their bodies, and have a creative outlet to express their emotions.
I am also very empathetic to kids feeling stress from the pressures placed on them at such a young age. The dance world can be rough sometimes too, so I really want our studio to be a place where we balance pushing them to work hard to attain their goals while allowing them to express and work through their feelings and stressors. Stuffing things down isn’t going to help. We all have days where we just aren’t able to “leave your problems at the door”, and I want them to be able to feel comfortable expressing that.. I love watching the kids grow through time, and to have a small hand in their development as humans is such an honor! The bonus is that I get to do this through dance and bring out my creative side which has not been able to be fully explored as a scientist all these years! Sharing this and connecting with others with like passions is very fulfilling.
How old are your children?
My son is 19 and graduated last year, and my daughter is 16 and just passed her driving test! Time with them is more valued now than ever as the days of having them home are dwindling. Part of the reason I decided to focus on owning the dance studio was to have more flexible time to spend with family.
What do you think is one of the best parts about being a mom?
Watching them grow into remarkable individuals and seeing parts of you in them, but realizing that they are better versions. Seeing their individuality grow over time and knowing that they are capable of going forth and doing good things in the world is an amazing feeling.
Looking back and thinking of them as babies and toddlers and even tweens, it’s just so surreal to think that much time has passed and you had a hand in raising these amazing people that you see now. It is hard to think you have that much love in you and you realize it’s not divisible but grows with every day. They have taught me so much about myself and helped me to be a better person! I’m excited to see where life takes them.
What is a piece of advice for new moms you wish you would have known when you were a new mom?
Trust your intuition! Your gut knows more than you think. Don’t sweat the small stuff, be spontaneous, and don’t work too much. Work will always be there no matter how late you stay; it never ends. Remember that you’re replaceable at work but not at home. Make sure to enjoy the little things because later they will be the big things that stand out in your memory.
Please tell us more about Fusion Dance Center and about owning a dance studio!
Fusion Dance Center (FDC)has been our home away from home and our extended family for a decade. FDC just moved to Lansing from Holt in fall of 2021, so we are really looking to expand our market to the Lansing area. Even in Holt we used the hashtag “lovelansing” but it’s even more true now.
FDC is a unique studio in several ways. It has always been known for bringing out the artist in the students in addition to teaching technique and we continually produce out-of-the-box choreography. Musicality of movement that makes you hear the music louder and choreography that embodies the feeling of the music is really important to us. I am making sure this aspect of the studio continues through retaining extremely talented and creative teachers. But more importantly, the individual connections and caring that the kids, parents, and staff have for each other is what makes it home. Over the past several months I’ve been thinking a lot about the mission of the studio and how it’s important to set the values that all decisions must come through to shape that mission. The core values FDC strives to embody are honesty, integrity, fairness, wellness, community, commitment, creativity, kindness, and compassion.
Our mission is to provide a space where kids can express themselves through dance, feel seen and heard, grow as dancers and people, learn how to support others while building themselves up, and gain understanding of and exemplify our core values.
Owning the studio was not something I thought I’d be doing if you’d have asked me even five years ago. Even though dance has always been a part of my life, I was working at the studio primarily as a dance mom and had a career I was happy with. Last season was obviously a big transition for me with embarking on a new career and going from dance mom to also the studio owner. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for my daughter as well. It’s also been a lot of change for everyone else at the studio since they got new ownership, moved locations, and the kids were full time back in school and dance classes after being mostly virtual for almost two years. But the community at FDC is amazing and many have come together to continue to support and help grow the studio, and last year was very successful despite all the changes.
The studio is what it is because of the many awesome people that make up our little community! There are of course lots of bumps along the road, but I am learning to take them in stride, stand by what I feel is best for the studio based on the core values, and believe that what is meant to be will be. Ultimately this is a very rewarding job that teaches me just as much as I teach others. I am so excited to continue to work to grow the studio to its full potential into a place that even more kids love to call home.
Are there adult classes?
We offer adult classes periodically, but haven’t had the steady commitment from adults to be able to continually run them. We currently have a beginner adult Hip Hop class once a month on Fridays from 7:30-8:30. We may offer more in the future if the interest is there!
We currently offer Zumba Fitness classes taught by yours truly! Zumba is a wonderful dance outlet and explores many Latin and International dance genres. It is a workout for those that don’t like workouts since you are having fun the whole time and the class flies by!
Types of youth classes?
Our website has lots of information on our classes! We offer a variety of dance classes for ages 3 to adult! Our youngest dancers (3-4yo) take creative movement, ballet, and/or acro dance. After age 5 we offer those plus tap, jazz, hip hop. Our tween and teen dancers may also take lyrical, contemporary, strength and conditioning, flexibility, and pre-pointe/pointe classes. We also have a competitive team called Imagery that has additional opportunities for growth and connection such as mindfulness classes and fun nights. We focus on the whole dancer, mind, body, and soul and see them as individuals with their own needs and experiences that will affect how they take class.
What are you looking forward to as we move into fall?
I always look forward to the smiles and hugs that accompany coming into the studio! They are my extended family and I enjoy spending time with them and getting to know them as people. The biggest reward comes in seeing the dancers making connections with each other and leaning on each other in hard times. Seeing how much they grow in one season is just amazing! On the business end, I am looking forward to expanding our name into the Lansing community since we have only been in our current location for one year. I don’t think many are aware that we exist there.
When does dance sign up begin for fall 2022?
Our 2022-23 season begins August 29th! Enrollment has started and can be found on our website. We offer monthly tuition, drop in classes, and a few 6 week non-performance sessions throughout the year.
Here are a couple questions to get to know you better 🙂
What gets you up in the morning? It takes a lot to get me up in the morning… I am not a morning person, so the evening studio schedule suits me well. I generally get to sleep in a bit and enjoy a coffee and quiet time to start my day.
And how do you take your coffee? 🙂 Almond or oat milk (vanilla preferred)… sometimes with coconut oil blended in!
Last book you read? Three books kind of concurrently: Divine Architecture, Characteristics of a Positive Leader, and the third in the Bromance Book Club series (can’t wait for the fourth out this winter!)
What is your favorite turn up loud and dance it out song (or 2 – hard to pick one) Usually a good salsa or reggaeton rhythm will get me dancing!
Strangest item in your work bag (or purse or trunk of your car….) Dramamine – helps with vertigo that I sometimes get
The children’s book you most enjoy reading? Good Night Moon
Favorite Michigan summertime destination? Muskegon Pere Marquette Beach
Anything else you would like to share with GLAMoms? Mention this Meet a Mom feature and receive one free week of classes at the studio! Any classes for any age.
And Open Houses August 20th 2-4pm and 21st 12-2pm; 2022-23 Season at Fusion Dance Center begins August 29th
Thanks for sharing your story with GLAMoms, Amy! If you would like to contact Fusion Dance Center, please see below!
Today’s Meet a Mom featuring Amy Berry was brought to you by Boji Group. Boji Group specializes in Private-Public Partnerships, has offices in both Lansing and Birmingham and is headquartered in downtown Lansing.