Ann-Maries Basara started dancing when she was five years old, and has turned her passion into a long career at the Dance Express.
She said growing up she wasn’t always the most outgoing person.
“I was actually a shy girl, but when I was on stage I was a completely different person,” she said. "I just loved performing.”
Basara said she originally wanted to go into stage performance and make a career on Broadway.
“I originally felt an obligation to come back and teach once I went to school,” she said. “Once I realized how tough it is, I knew that teaching was my best way to go.”
Basara went to Desales University in Pennsylvania for dancing and when she left for school, her mom had bought the dance studio where she currently teaches.
“She ran it until I got back,” she said. “My mom and I have run the studio together.”
Basara said she knew in high school that dancing was going to be more than a passion for her.
“It seemed to be the thing I knew how to do best,” she said.
She feels her studio is different from many other dancing establishments because of the way she treats her students and their parents. She said her mother was a big part of establishing that motif, as a dance mom herself for so many years.
“We took it from a mom’s point of view rather than a business owner,” she said. ““She kind of took it from that side, like I know what I felt like when [Basara] was dancing. Most people have told us through the years that the reason they chose this school was when they called and they talked to either my mom or myself they just felt something talk to us that made them decide this is the place.”
Basara added Web sites can take away from that personal touch, and actually talking to a parent before they bring their kid in lends itself more to building a relationship rather than a business arrangement.
“I want people to call, I know I’ll loose some people for that,” she said. “But I like to talk to people, I like them to call and tell them what we’re all about. It’s makes it more personal.”
Basara said she has many alumni still coming to the school, either to help out or bring their children to learn.
“A lot of my alum girls just graduated college and they all came back,” she said. “They all go to competitions and come and support the dancers now. We are completely a family, that’s what keeps us going. Most of my teachers are former dancers here. For the dancers where this was such a big part of their lives, they have a hard time letting go.”
Basara said she and her dancers participate heavily in the yearly Relay for Life. She said last year, the school’s team raised over $5,000.
“We’re hoping to double that to $10,000 this year,” she said.
She added the school also does a Toys for Tots drive during the holiday season, did a drive last year for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and donate yearly to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Dance Express is located at 99 Eastman St.