Tucker, GA — Adult ballet and adult hip hop classes at Tucker Recreation Center are now enrolling for 2022, along with a variety of classes for children. Expressions in Motion Dance, owned and operated by Tucker resident Whitney Teyf, has a dance studio at the rec center and approaches dance not by ability, but by age.
The same goes for adult classes. Teyf recently received an inquiry from a woman who had two hip replacements. Teyf encouraged her to sign up because instructors at all of EIM Dance’s locations can adapt to the needs of each dancer.
“We might have some kids with two left feet and some kids that are extremely coordinated, and we differentiate instruction to everybody, whatever level they’re at, to make them feel comfortable,” said Teyf, who has been teaching dance in DeKalb County since 2006.
She was a new dance teacher at Vanderlyn Elementary School in Dunwoody when a mom requested an afterschool dance class for her daughters. She distributed a flyer about dance classes to the school’s 1,000 students and within 24 hours 40 kids had enrolled.
“My husband, who was a business major, said to me that day, ‘I think you have something sitting in front of you,’” said Teyf, who has been dancing since age three.
Word spread, and soon Teyf’s students were dancing their way through the halls of Dunwoody and Decatur public schools. As her dance program took off, she continued to teach at Vanderlyn Elementary School and had her first child.
“I had to make a choice because I couldn’t do it all, whether I wanted to continue being a full-time dance teacher at Vanderlyn and running this business that was growing rapidly, and being a mom,” she said.
She’s only taken a small break from dancing, which she describes as her love, then returned to the studio after her bat mitzvah.
“My parents didn’t necessarily have the ability to pay for as many classes as I wanted to take. I auditioned for a company at a studio in high school, and they gave me a full scholarship. They said as long as you’re part of the company, we’ll give you a full scholarship,” said Teyf. “I spent my life there at the studio.”
She earned a degree in dance education at East Carolina University and a teaching certificate, danced one summer at Horn in the West in Boone, N.C., and LA Dance Project in Atlanta. She met her husband, Khannan, who grew up in Tucker, while on a young adult trip to Israel. He’s a ballroom dancer.
Teyf described herself as an “over the top Type-A personality.” Her company’s recitals run to the minute under her structured, organized plan.
Teyf expanded EIM Dance to 45 locations in elementary schools, preschools and daycare centers by 2020. She had approached Tucker Recreation Center in 2016, which turned out to be one of the ways she preserved the company during the pandemic.
“The pandemic hit and we were not allowed into any of our school locations, so we had to create more classes at Tucker Recreation Center,” said Teyf.
The Tucker dance studio has since its inception quadrupled in size, due to word of mouth.
EIM Dance was hit hard and fast by the pandemic. That’s when she learned, as a business owner, she had to pivot, reinvent and go with the flow. She was sitting on the beach in summer 2020, when she thought, “What am I going to do? This is my livelihood. I’m not willing to throw in the flag because the world is trying to throw the flag in for me.”
To keep her 20 dance instructors afloat, Teyf created at-home dance classes to kids learning from home with about 50 different classes, she said. Some teachers are still holding classes in driveways and backyards. Enrollment is currently about 450 students, down from 700, because not all schools are allowing afterschool classes.
“It’s been difficult, but it’s also helped us reinvent and better our business because we realized there are other avenues to dance,” she said.
The Tucker Observer is a new community news website owned by Decaturish.com. We provide locally sourced news about Tucker, Clarkston and Stone Mountain.
Want the latest news from the Tucker Observer delivered to your inbox every morning? Click here to sign up for our free daily newsletter.
To become a paying supporter of Tucker Observer, click here.