July 12, 2016
Studio blends dance, sign language
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Meghan Libous, owner of Signature Dance Studio in Homer, is shown adding sign language to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” with her beginning ballet class Monday at the Center for the Arts building in Homer.
HOMER — Meghan Libous, of Locke, has established a new kind of dance studio locally, teaching people the rhythm and movements to songs through two methods: dance and sign language.
Libous opened the Signature Dance Studio, in the Center for the Arts, at 72 Main St. in Homer, in the beginning of June.
In her dance sessions with kids and adults, Libous said Monday she likes to add in sign language to the dances. She’ll have the dancers sign along with the lyrics of the songs. She said it is her own unique element she adds to her classes, but it is also meant to show that anyone, with a disability or not, can learn to dance.
While in high school, Libous enjoyed taking language classes and learning new ways of communication, she said. Sign language eventually appealed to her the most because of the movement, she said.
“It’s like dancing,” Libous said about the array of movements needed to sign.
She enjoyed it so much that she went to Keuka College to study it. In 2011 she graduated from the college with a bachelor’s degree in American sign language and interpreting.
After graduating she began working as a freelance interpreter during the day and a dance instructor at night at The Dance Connection in Binghamton where she had been dancing since she was 7 years old.
“She was a wonderful teacher,” Ann Szymaniak, owner of The Dance Connection, said Monday.
Szymaniak was a great mentor, Libous said, teaching her beneficial life lessons and guiding her in her career path.
Libous worked for Szymaniak until earlier this year when pieces started to fall into place to start her own business.
Four years ago, she moved to Locke to live with her boyfriend, but continued to commute to Binghamton. As time went on, she said the commute started to get to her and she slowly became more accustomed to the area. She knew she wanted to be a teacher but had not been looking to start her own business, until she found the Center for the Arts.
She said she stumbled across the center and after seeing the available space and its potential, she had an epiphany that starting her own studio could work.
Not being from the area means she has no established following, which is always the hardest part of starting a new business, but Szymaniak said she believes Libous has the talent and skills to make it work.
“There are not many people I would trust the world with by giving them a key (to the business), but Meghan was one of them,” Szymaniak said.
Libous said she is still trying to get the hang of being a business owner, figuring out how and where to advertise, but so far business has been good. She works with people young and old and teaches tap, jazz, hip-hop, ballet and more. She plans to run with the school season, going from September to June, having a recital for the kids in the studio at the end of June 2017. With time she hopes to be able to grow the business and be able have competitions, as well.
While she enjoys teaching everyone, a big part of her passion is helping youngsters.
“I want to teach kids about life, not just dance,” Libous said. “I want kids to figure out their own passions and leave and make a mark on the world.”
Alayna McLaughlin-Kemp, age 4, had just finished a lesson with Libous in the morning Monday and said she enjoyed it. She raised both of her hands, fingers spread wide, rating the experience with a 10 out of 10.
“This is a dream come true,” Libous said.
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