The little studio making a big impact in Wimberley
When the clock strikes five at Wimberley Dance Elite, students slide open the studio doors and pour out into the small lobby, a cacophony of shuffling dancers’ gear, chatter, and breathless laughter. April Hobson, artistic director and co-owner of the studio, follows the crowd out and ducks into her small office across the hall. Dance camps have recently ended, but there’s always another performance on the horizon for which to prepare.
It’s hard to believe amidst the swirl of activity that this little dance studio was only a dream less than a year ago. Nicole Wesley, co-owner of WDE, and April were colleagues at Texas Tech University when they realized they shared a vision for a dance studio. Years later, after both women moved to the Wimberley area, they realized there was not a professional, competitive dance studio in the city. “There are so many artists, musicians, singers, and actors, but there just wasn’t a strong dance base here,” says April.
The pair found their business partner in Nicole’s sister, Sheridan Roalson, and the three women opened their studio in the heart of Wimberley. Their building on Melody Way was once the old dance studio in town but closed down several years ago. Now, April and Nicole are breathing new life into the little studio. “I love that the last dance program ended here and we’re growing out of that legacy,” says April.
With community performances, recitals, camps, and company auditions, the ladies’ plates are joyfully full as they groom the next generation of dancers and help them take their newfound passion public. WDE has performed at EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens Trail of Lights, Wimberley’s Fourth of July Parade, local schools, festivals and community camps. “We want our dancers to be truly present in the community,” says April. “And the city has just embraced us.”
Elite Dance Company, WDE’s competitive company, has brought home high gold and 13 platinum trophies and received their first double platinum award at the Streetz Dance Convention and Competition and Stage One National Dance Competition. Platinum and High Gold are two of the top three placements at competition. Four of the 10 top dancers overall at competition were Elite dancers. For a new studio with young dancers age six and up, this is a huge accomplishment.
Amid all the activity and growth, April and WDE remain laser-focused on offering a pre-professional repertoire dance company for the kids. Sharing the joy of dance with kids like 10-year-old Ivy Beck is one of the many reasons April is so passionate about this dream. “I’ve been dancing all my life, but after preschool I didn’t have a place to go, and I just danced in my room,” says Ivy, a first-year competitive dancer. “Now I’m coming here and have a place to dance.”
For students like Ivy, WDE has been a place to foster not only the love of dance but also friendship. Pool parties and studio sleepovers have been favorite bonding activities when the students are not dancing. “I just love to dance,” says Ivy, “and I get to hang out with my friends!”
Throughout her career as a dancer and now a teacher, April has come to appreciate the importance of passing down the legacy of dance to students. “I love the idea of this being a recreational way to learn about and enjoy the arts, but I know we’re going to get kids who want to focus on dance being a big part of their lives,” April says. “We want Wimberley Dance Elite to be a great place to grow up.”