Emily Kingsbury has been teaching dance for 28 years, the past 24 of them at her basement studio called the West Roxbury School of Dance, where everyone calls her Miss Emily. The former West Roxbury resident, who has been dancing as a hobby for as long as she can remember, started teaching out of her then-Roslindale home, after a stint teaching dance at a summer vacation bible school at Sacred Heart.
Patch: How did you happen to open your own studio?
Miss Emily: After I did the class at Sacred Heart, people started saying, "Where’s your studio?" And I said that I didn’t have one. So I taught in a small room at my home for one year, then at the Sons of Italy for two years, then at St. Nectarios for a couple of years. Then we came here. So it evolved. It was a hobby that turned into a business.
Patch: What’s your own dance background?
Miss Emily: I really didn’t do any formal training till I was an adult, and I’ve gone back to school. I take classes twice a week, every week. I study at the Boston Chamber Ballet School, I have many tap teachers, and I study jazz dance.
Patch: What actually goes on at your school?
Miss Emily: We teach children through seniors, so that’s ages 3 to 18, and there are some adult classes with other teachers in the evening. For the kids, we teach combination classes of ballet and tap or ballet and jazz or just hip-hop. We also teach lyrical, which is a combination of ballet and jazz, done to a song that tells a story. We choose our music very carefully, like maybe songs by LeAnn Rimes or Adele. Some of the evening adult classes are in ballroom and salsa.
Patch: There are all girls in the studio today. Do you have any boys enrolled?
Miss Emily: We have a handful of boys this year. They’re mostly in the hip-hop class, but we do have one boy in ballet who’s in the third grade, and has been here for three years. It’s difficult to get boys to come.
Patch: What does dance do for kids?
Miss Emily: Dance gives you a sense of confidence, self esteem, good posture. Our motto here is it’s family friendly and it’s fun, with a strong core for dance ethics as far as a nice dance barre, nice positions, good strong fundamentals and dance teaching. Also, the kids here will be doing dissertations in school soon, and they won’t be afraid to get up and read in front of that crowd because they’ve been performing since they were little.
Patch: Do you have any favorite dance-related movies?
Miss Emily: “Dirty Dancing,” “Center Stage,” “Footloose” – the original; I haven’t seen the new one. “Billy Elliot” was great, but it didn’t bring any boys in.