Janie Christy loves dancing. She loves to talk about it, watch it, analyze it, critique it and of course, teach it. The owner of The Janie Christy School of Dance is one of those rare souls whose lifelong passion became her actual livelihood. In her case, however, it all started because of a slight orthopedic problem she had as a child.
As a little girl in Wichita Falls, Texas, Christy’s family doctor became concerned because her foot turned in a tad. He recommended that the three-year old Christy take ballet lessons.
“He recommended that because all of the ballet dancing is done with the feet and legs turned out,” she says. “From there, it really grew on me and I’ve danced ever since.”
Petite, bright eyed and enthusiastic, the 43 year-old Christy has an energy level that seems to escape the average working person. But when your favorite pastime is a daily event and teaching it to young girls whose ages range from three to 17, it’s easy to see how she maintains a gleam in her mannerisms and spritely appearance.
Her original Lake Highlands studio at 9090 Skillman (in the Compass Bank Shopping Center) is colored with vibrant pastels and on the floor in the main lesson room lie tutus and other frilly garments. “We played dress up today,” she laughs.
Despite her youthfulness, Christy has come a long way from her lessons in Wichita Falls and has become a prominent member of Lake Highlands’ business community as well as a wife and mother of three (all of whom learned dancing from Christy). While children’s pageants and talent contests have become popular, Christy strays from the competitive end of the spectrum. As a child, she was taught by professional dancers who migrated to the states from Czechoslovakia. She says that the emphasis was not in competition, but rather in simply learning techniques and artistic delivery.
“I have never been in a competition-driven school,” she says. “My school is not competitive. We have a recital at the end of the year to show off all of the children’s accomplishments, which is more constructive. My emphasis is centered more on the art of dancing, its discipline and enjoying it.”
Christy has been an instructor for several years and taught in different Dallas studios before creating the Janie Christy School of Dance six years ago. In its first year, she taught all of the classes herself (except for one jazz dance course). The following year, business had been good enough to develop a staff. In 1994, she added another studio to her school and in 1998, another one opened as well (in a separate suite within the Compass Bank Shopping Center).
Currently, her school is prospering and Christy couldn’t be happier. While her dreams of running her own studio is everything she had imagined, she admits that she getting to act like a kid is her favorite part of running a grown-up business.
“I enjoy the business part of it, but if I had my way I’d rather come everyday to sing, dance, skip and gallop, and dress up in silly costumes,” she says. “But I really love owning my own business. You really end up working 10 times harder, but when you go home, it’s all worth it!”