Elizabeth McCabe: For the Love of Dance
It’s pretty much safe to say that Elizabeth McCabe was born to dance. This local educator decided to purchase the dance studio where she first learned to dance as a child and taught as a teen, as she has taken over ownership of The Dance Corner on Route 80.
Elizabeth grew up in Madison, but she and her sister were longtime dancers at the studio, where they both fell in love with dance as the classes instilled confidence and dedication at an early age. Elizabeth has a master’s degree in social work from Columbia College in New York, and she has taught in Clinton at Joel Elementary as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a position she truly loves.
“I started dancing here when I was 4, and I guess I kind of never left. When I graduated high school, I still taught here during the summers when I went to school,” says Elizabeth. “The only time I wasn’t here was when I was at Colombia for that one year getting my master’s. I came back here and began working as LCSW in Clinton,” says Elizabeth.
Elizabeth says she loved her time working at Joel Elementary but simply had to jump at the chance to dance.
“It was a very hard choice to make, but I simply couldn’t do both. I was working as a school-based health center social worker. I loved it, and it was the hardest thing to leave, but I had just moved, had a baby, and then bought a dance studio. So I couldn’t do social work in conjunction with all that,” Elizabeth laughs. “Maybe when I have my routine here down, I may go back to it because it is very fulfilling and a skill I don’t want to lose. If there’s an opportunity in the future, I’d like to pursue it.”
Elizabeth says working with kids has always been part of her life, and the opportunity at The Dance Corner is an incredible step in her journey to help bring a positive message to young minds. According to Elizabeth, a difficult period in her childhood helped cement her dedication to helping youngsters.
“I have always loved working with children, even when I was little. I just love being around children. When I was in seventh grade, it was a tough time for me. I had some friendship issues and some of the typical things that middle schoolers go through. My guidance counselor at the time was always there for me, and that’s why I wanted to help kids — especially with the bullying and the social aspects,” says Elizabeth. “That’s why I think being here and being able to teach dance is important because even if I don’t do the clinical social work stuff, I’m still with kids and can still have a positive impact and interactions.”
According to Elizabeth, The Dance Corner has been under various ownership for 30 years. It started out as one studio and has grown into three separate studios in the complex on Route 80, an office and retail shop fronting the road, and two studios in the back section of the property.
“My sister also danced here, and my mom works in the retail shop; it’s a family environment, so I never really wanted to leave here,” says Elizabeth.
Dance, especially Irish dancing, has been a source of inspiration and confidence, says Elizabeth. The studio has witnessed a dramatic jump in the number of students pursuing this challenging and traditional form of dance.
“I did ballet and tap, but I saw clogging on TV and just fell in love with it. I did ballet and tap, but I think Irish dancing really kept me going and kept me in it. Irish dancing really takes a lot of time, determination, and hard work to do. I love it and feel it is always growing. I feel like there are so many things you can do with it. I think it’s also beautiful to watch as well,” says Elizabeth. “We have 21 students enrolled in Irish dance this year, which we had eight students in last year, so it is definitely growing. I think people see that there are so many opportunities with our program here. We actually take trips to Ireland for competitions when they get to be old enough, so it is very exciting for students.”
Elizabeth says she enjoys dance instruction as much as actually performing and has been on cloud nine since purchasing the studio in June. Her experience provides unique skills that help her instill the same lessons and the same fun she grew up with at the studio.
“I think now that I love teaching more than the performing aspect. I loved dancing growing up; don’t get me wrong, it was super fun. My sister and I danced together, and she was always way more into the technique and making sure everything looked perfect, and I was always into it just to come and have fun and hang out with my friends,” Elizabeth says. “Now that I’m a teacher, I think I’m helping kids find that proper mix because I know what it’s like to have that important social environment for them but also to help them grow technically. So, I am hoping to help them find that even balance because I know how important it was to have this space when life was so hard for me in my middle school years. This was my safe spot. I would miss anything to come to dance because that is where I felt safe and happy.”
The studio offers all forms of dance along with specific competitions that the studio sponsors and is partnered with. There are also tumbling classes, which have become popular with youngsters, all of which focus on fun and family.
“I think we definitely have a family environment here. If you were to ask anyone, I think they would say that the overall vibe of the studio is definitely family, supportive…and, in the end, the kids feel confident here and comfortable. The kids love to see each other and interact with each other, and it just warms your heart to know that everyone is supportive. That’s what I grew up feeling, and that’s what I hope they continue to feel,” says Elizabeth.
The Dance Corner is located at 206 Route 80 in Killingworth. For more information, contact 860-663-3738 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.thedancecorner.com.