-For Discover Parkland-
A young girl twirls and spins across the sidewalk before opening the doors to Freedom Dance Center, and stepping inside. It’s a Tuesday evening in Parkland and her lesson in ballet and lyrical dance is about to begin.
Freedom Dance Center, located in Parkland Centre on 138th St. and Pacific Avenue, offers quality dance classes at affordable rates. According to owner and dance director Dawn Del Castillo, the dance studio opened in 2009 and recently relocated to its Parkland location in July 2011. It offers dance instruction for all ages and levels, starting with students as young as three years old.
“I think it’s a diamond in the rough that people are missing out on,” said Kelley Gorospe, whose daughter is enrolled in classes at Freedom Dance Center.
Aspiring dancers can enroll in almost any type of dance class including ballet, pointe, hip hop, jazz/lyrical, ballet/jazz, tap, modern, contemporary, and progressions turns and leaps. The studio serves about 80 students, many of which are enrolled in multiple classes.
Del Castillo, the owner of Freedom Dance Center, has been dancing for 17 years. She began teaching dance after high school as a volunteer dance instructor for under-privileged teens.
Del Castillo also taught at several studios, choreographed and directed the FLY Dance Hip Hop Company, and co-founded other hip-hop groups including Identity and ID, which took first and second place for Best Dance Crew in Tacoma in 2009. Now, she focuses her efforts at Freedom Dance Center, fostering a safe, encouraging environment for young dancers in her own studio.
Gorospe’s daughter is enrolled in a few different classes at Freedom Dance Center, including hip-hop, contemporary, ballet, and progressions turns and leaps. Gorospe works the front desk at the studio a few nights a week, while her daughter is in class.
Her daughter has been dancing with the owner and director, Del Castillo, since she was six years old.
“We just love her [Del Castillo] so much we wanted to follow her and support her,” said Gorospe when asked why they chose Freedom Dance Center over other studios in the area.
The cost of classes is a big incentive as well. According to Gorospe and Del Castillo, the studio offers classes at about half the price of other studios in the area. Financial aid is also available to students.
“Our main goal is to provide dance to all who wish to dance especially low income families,” said Del Castillo. “With the economy in the rut…we want those children and the adults as well to have a center they can come to and freely express themselves through the art of dance.”
Gorospe said that Freedom Dance Center employs some of the best instructors in the area, all of which have professional dance experience.
Shadou Mintrone, who teaches ballet, lyrical, and tap, also dances for Spectrum Dance Theater and was one of only three females selected to perform in Santiago, Chile for “Danza en el Metro” in 2009.
One of the hip-hop instructors, Bianca Kapeliela, has traveled to China to work as a backup dancer for a popular Taiwanese musician.
Students at Freedom Dance Center are held to a code of conduct requiring, as outlined on their website, modest dress, respect for peers and instructors, and “a zero tolerance policy towards gossip, unkind words spoken towards or about fellow dancers/ instructors, or dancers behaving inappropriately.”
This code of conduct, as well as the studio’s mission statement that features confidence and self-esteem building for students, is what draws a lot of people in to Freedom Dance Center. Gorospe applauded Del Castillo’s code of conduct, praising the good values, appropriate choreography, and modest dress encouraged by the studio.
“She really wants to make a difference,” said Gorospe of Del Castillo.