Student Journey

Nurturing students on a journey of self discovery through meaningful connections

Nicola Corea

My Akimbo Journey

When you join a dance class at a young age, you are taught many things. Independence, responsibility, manners, and teamwork, just touch the surface of the many things that dance taught me as a child. I was two, turning three years old when my parents decided to put me in a dance class at Akimbo. I had really bad separation anxiety when being away from my mom, and when I was put into a class with other kids and an amazing teacher, I instantly got over the anxiety, and I quickly learned to love the art of dance, and the amazing studio that came with it. I started in Ballet classes, but when I saw all the amazing older girls perform, I instantly fell in love with the styles of Jazz and Tap, begging my parents to sign me up as soon as I was old enough.

Growing up at Akimbo, I spent most of my afterschool hours at the studio. I made so many friends and created several bonds with many teachers. As I got older, I started to learn the importance of teamwork, I was taught that I needed to work together with my classmates to achieve our goals. The responsibility that comes along with dance taught me so many things: patience, time management, organization, and memorization. I believe that the lessons I have learned as a student at Akimbo have shaped me into the person I am now. I was not always the “best dancer” in my classes, as some things like strength did not always come easy to me, but this was just motivation for me to work harder, try again, and get stronger.

Around the age of twelve, I discovered my love for Musical Theatre. I found myself coming out of my bubble and showing off who I was, not caring what anyone thought of me. I realized that dance did not always have to be serious and emotional, but that it could be comedic. I liked to make people laugh and I was very dramatic. Kim encouraged me to put myself out there and start competing Variety solos in festivals around the province, which resulted in me achieving great scores. When I was about 13 years old, Akimbo put a competitive team together and I was invited to join. I was very excited to be a part of something so special, and I couldn’t wait to represent my studio, along with all my friends. I found myself working so hard and improving in so many areas, becoming a better dancer with every experience I had. When I started high school, life got pretty crazy and I had some troubles with my friends at school, but as soon as I got to the studio my problems and stresses left me. My dance family was always there to talk to and support me. For several years, I signed up to be an Assistant Teacher, where I assisted in classes with younger students.

In 2017 when I received the Tom Bell Memorial scholarship, I was so proud of myself. The following year, I signed up for every class I could, even the ones I had never been interested in before. I fell in love with every style, and the year I had was truly magical. It taught me that anything is possible, and all my hard work had paid off. That same year, I had an accident that wiped me out of dance classes for a couple of weeks. This did not stop me, I came to every single class and watched from the side, and I jumped at the opportunity when I was able to participate in modified things.

The doctor had told me that there was permanent damage in my ankle and it would be a long time to regain the strength I had before. I took this as a challenge, and with the help of the amazing, supportive staff at Akimbo, I slowly made progress. There were things that I had to give up, like Pointe class, because it was almost impossible for me to now do, but my passion and love for dance did not leave. In 2018, Kim offered me a position as a junior teacher, where I would teach and choreograph tap classes for younger students. I continued to dance myself and teach classes for the rest of high school.

I graduated high school in 2020, deciding after an amazing 15 years of being a student at Akimbo, it was now my turn to be a teacher. I am very grateful for my student journey, and all the opportunities and lessons that dance has shared with me. I love sharing my passion for dance with my students, and I love to watch them grow and improve. I am so thankful for everything that Akimbo has to offer, and for Kim’s love, she shares with all her students.

Caralea Ayotte

Practicing a variety of different styles throughout 12 years of dance classes at Akimbo has greatly influenced me as a person. I started dancing at Akimbo when I was just 4 years old, and at that young age, I was unaware of the role dance would play in my life. In the beginning years learning the basics of dance really helped me to open up and overcome my shyness as well as a way to release my creative energy. My first dance teacher created an environment that was safe, fun, and judgment free. My parents recognized how much I enjoyed my dance classes at Akimbo and would keep enrolling me in the next class. This allowed me to continue to gain confidence in myself and learn many skills such as problem solving, spatial awareness, working with my peers, and general discipline. I had expectations put upon me, for example, keeping myself tidy, being prepared for class, and setting good examples. Because of this, I learned about accountability.

When I was around 9 years old, Akimbo presented me with the opportunity to join the junior competitive dance team, which at the time was slightly out of my comfort zone, but I was encouraged by my dance family to take the leap. I remember feeling so proud of my team when we placed in our first competition, and at that point I had realized that Akimbo meant a lot more to me than just an after school activity. I began taking more varieties of dance and classes to expand my knowledge and by trying new things really helped me to find my strengths and weaknesses regarding my dance abilities.

Contemporary dance became one of my favorites, and a few years later Akimbo had allowed me to compete as a solo dancer for the first time, which was a massive accomplishment for me. I soon noticed that competing solo was difficult for me. I developed a mental block while learning the choreography in class, which led to mistakes and a lot of anger. While I felt extremely down on myself, my Akimbo family reminded me of how amazing I am, and to stay strong and confident. All of my peers and teachers really helped me find who I am as a dancer, and with their help, I got past my mental block and was able to continue competing by myself on stage, and in group dances with my classmates.

About two years later,  Akimbo awarded me with the Thom Bell Memorial Scholarship, which allowed me to take all the classes I could dream of. At my peak, I was taking about 12 dance classes, which is when Akimbo really became my second home. I was there 5 days a week, for several hours after school. I really learned that determination hard work pays off and to not get down, to keep trying. 

Thanks to Akimbo, I was able to attend Groove Street and because of my Scholarship opportunity, I could take the majority of the classes they had to offer, and was capable of making the full experience out of my time at Groove Street.

After my luxurious year of taking so many classes, I had to choose between dance varieties and which ones I wanted to continue with. Again with the help of my peers and teachers at Akimbo, I had figured out what I enjoyed the most and I continue to take those classes today. As I grew as a person and a dancer, Akimbo grew with me, and I soon became experienced enough to help my teachers with their classes. I became a teacher assistant and soon after that I started teaching my own classes at Akimbo. Now I’m able to share my love for dance  and can inspire younger kids.

I have stuck with Akimbo through all of the ups and downs that we have gone through as a studio and Akimbo has stuck with me.  I am beyond grateful to have an amazing team, awesome teachers to role model for me as I grow up, and all the opportunities I have experienced. Akimbo really is my second home and my second family.