Dance instructor creates family bonds in the studio

By Sydney Purpora

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Carly Sigears, a dance instructor at En Avant School of Dance, shows a student correct form in the studio. © 2015 Sydney Purpora

When a dancer in Carly Sigears’ class experienced the death of her mother, her team was there every step of the way. The girl had no other relatives, so the dancers and their mothers helped the young dancer get back on her feet.

“At the surface it is just dancing,” Sigears said.  “But it is so much more than that.”

Dancing is a medium that allows dancers to find themselves. Along the way they also form bonds of friendship and family. But the ties that bind dancers as family, do not prevent them from enjoying another important aspect of dance – self expression. Being able to express herself, is Sigears favorite part of her job. For Sigears, dance is her passion.

Twenty-four-year-old Sigears is a dance instructor at En Avant School of Dance. Through dance she creates a home away from home for her girls by giving them a safe, fun and inspiring place to dance.

In addition to teaching at the studio, Sigears is the coach of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire dance team and an employee at Prestige Auto. With a schedule that often runs from sun-up to long past sundown, Sigears says it is dancing that motivates her to keep going.

Although maintaining a healthy balance from day to day can be hard, Sigears always puts dance as her top priority.

Born in Dallas, Sigears has been dancing since she was 3. She moved to Eau Claire at age 5 to be closer to her mother’s family.

In Eau Claire, Sigears enrolled at Jean Marie School of Dance and danced there until she was 7. From there, Sigears switched to Eau Claire School of Dance. Eventually, Sigears made her final transfer to En Avant School of Dance at age 11 and has been there ever since.

Outside of the studio Sigears participated in her high school dance team at Eau Claire North. Although she enjoyed her time on the team, there was always a special place in her heart for studio dance.

“It’s different. They are such different styles and have such different focuses, I liked it,” Sigears said. “But I love my studio.”

Sigears is currently teaching hip-hop classes at En Avant School od Dance. The hip-hop classes range in ages from 10 year olds to college age students with varying skill levels.

Sigears also started the all-star competition team program at En Avant School of Dance. She wanted to give students who did not get to be on a high school dance team the chance to try it out. This team competes at local high school competitions and against studio teams on stage. They focus on three types of dance: lyrical, jazz and hip-hop.

Hanna Ebel, a 17-year-old on the competition team, explained that Sigears was her inspiration growing up. Ebel went through dance when she was younger looking up to the older girls for encouragement. Sigears’ noticeable drive toward dance gave Eibel the push to keep going.

“I kind of always viewed her as one of the awesome people that I wanted to grow up to be like,” Ebel said.

Mary Gilbert owned En Avant School of Dance since 1980. She knew Sigears as a student, which made selecting her to be an instructor an easy choice.

“Carly has been a good role model in terms of her message to the kids,” Gilbert said. “They admire her.”

Sigears also brings her inspiration to the dancers of the UW-Eau Claire dance team. Beginning her role as coach this year, Sigears uses her interactive instructing techniques from En Avant School of Dance to teach the team.

“Carly is good at leading a productive practice while making sure we have some fun,” said Sara Schmitz, a dancer on the team.

The most important ideal Sigears tries to instill in her students is self-discipline. The vigorous practices and demanding schedule forces students to go further with their skills. Pushing them from day one, Sigears demonstrates to her students that they are not going to get things handed to them.

“You should have to work for things and you should appreciate when you do work for them what you get,” Sigears said.

The lesson of working for success is applied not only to dance, but to all aspects of their lives. She said that the most rewarding part of her job is seeing the growth in her students both in dance and life skills.

Sigears connects with her students on a deeper level through their shared passion of dance. She is please that her passion and work life allow her to make a difference in her students’ lives.

“It’s cool when a passion of yours can become a career,” Sigears said.

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