Joy of Dance, the community-based dance studio that is open to all ages, makes a home for itself at the historic corner of Broadview and Danforth. Since its opening in 2006, Joy of Dance has become one of the pillars of the community on the Danforth, which is ironic because part of the appeal of that particular building is that it doesn’t have any pillars. Twelve years before Joy of Dance moved in, there had been a huge fire in the building and it hadn’t been occupied since, but Jennifer Jones, co-owner of the studio, says, “for a dance studio to find a place with no pillars… it didn’t matter what state it was in.” Jennifer recalls the four months they spent clearing away the traces of fire and dereliction, and shows me one of the interior walls where they left the original exposed brick, still blackened with soot, as a record of the building’s history.
When they first opened, Joy of Dance was a ballroom dance studio, and although they have expanded their range of dance styles significantly since then, Jennifer believes that the principles of ballroom dance are more relevant than ever. In the age of the #MeToo movement, ballroom dance gives structure to the way we connect with others physically. It’s important to be able to connect with people through touch, and part of the beauty of ballroom dance is that there are clear rules about how to do that. They are also adamant at Joy of Dance, that there are only leader and follower roles, not male and female roles. Jennifer believes the leader and follower roles are equally important and certainly not confined to one’s gender, because ballroom dance is about communicating, and “the leader is just the person who starts the conversation.”
Over the years, Joy of Dance has added more styles of dance to its schedule, the most recent additions being fitness classes that are rooted in dance, like Zumba and Nia. They also offer classes for kids, teens, and adults, but Jennifer’s favourite are the teens because it is a time when you can make a significant impact in a person’s life. When a teenager chooses to spend their free time at the studio, she knows they’re doing something right: “That’s always been my barometer of how well we’re doing, how happy the teens are.” The parents are happy, too, knowing that their kids are there, doing something they love, in a community that is full of positivity and support.
Joy of Dance’s greatest success has been the sense of community they have fostered among both students and staff. Part of the beauty of being in business for over a decade is that many former students have become staff, and some former full-time staff still come back to teach on the side. “Everybody here is family; people just take care of each other,” Jennifer says. Although Joy of Dance does have a successful competitive component for the teens, the purpose of the studio is to create lifelong dancers, who are there simply for the joy of dance.
Signing up for a dance class is a great way to have fun while getting a full-body workout. It stimulates multiple muscle groups, as well as your brain, and keeps your heart rate up in a way that using a machine at the gym never could. You can sign up with a friend or partner, or it could be an opportunity to meet new people!
Check out the class schedule on the Joy of Dance website, or follow them on Instagram (joyofdanceto) to be notified of upcoming classes, workshops, and events.