A new owner has taken the reins of Becky Seamster Dance Studio: Jennifer Palmer, a dance teacher whose history with Becky Seamster spans decades.
Palmer grew up dancing under the instruction of Seamster at age 7, and at age 15, she was experienced enough to start teaching her own classes at the studio. At age 19, Palmer lost her mother, and Seamster became a mother figure to her. She spent the majority of her evenings at that studio.
Palmer, 37, has taught part-time at the studio for the past 22 years now.
This year, though, with Seamster ready to retire, she put the studio up for sale. Palmer’s first reaction, she said, was that she figured her chapter at the studio was coming to a close.
“I was like, ‘OK, well, this might just be my last year teaching. I guess I’m done,’” she said.
That same night, Palmer went in to teach the class of 5- and 6-year-olds she had, and she had a realization. The sale couldn’t mark the end of what Seamster started 37 years ago.
“I had a group of 5- and 6-year-olds who just light up the room when they come to the studio. They have smiles every time they come in, and they love what they’re doing. I was like, ‘How can I leave these kids? Where would these kids go? The older kids who grew up in the studio are now juniors and seniors. Where would they go? They don’t want to go to another studio. This is the studio they grew up in.’ So I decided I really just wanted to continue what Becky started for all of us,” she said.
With that, Palmer made an offer and purchased the studio, renaming it Legacy Dance Academy in honor of carrying on the legacy Seamster started.
“Becky has been our mom for almost all our lives, so I wanted to continue her legacy. She has built such a great program and a great dance studio, and she has touched so many students’ lives that I just wanted to make sure that continued,” Palmer said.
The title of “business owner” now joins the other titles Palmer carries. Palmer also is a teacher at Western Intermediate School, and she directs a national competitive dance circuit, something she’s passionate about. She plans to re-start a competition dance team in the near future at Legacy Dance Academy since Kokomo has gone without one for a couple of years, she said.
As a director of national competitions, Palmer meets master teachers and master choreographers from around the country, as well as young dancers. The passion she sees in many of them, she said, is inspiring.
“When I direct these competitions, I see these kids who are just so much stronger and have so much more ability at a younger age than what used to be. They’re training quicker. The tricks that these kids are able to accomplish at such a young age are amazing, and we’re seeing a lot more [acrobatics] in dance. I think that’s where a lot of the strength is coming from,” she said.
With a competition dance team on the horizon, Palmer hopes to see that same level of dedication and commitment from girls in this area.
“I’m hoping with the implementation of some of the things I want to implement, it will get them excited and want to be there a lot more than what they are because it’s all about you’ve got to keep up with those changes,” she said.
Some of those changes include the different styles of dance as it continues to evolve. Dance isn’t just “old-school” classical, she said. As an example, she pointed to televised dance competition reality shows like “World of Dance” and “So You Think You Can Dance?” which feature a variety of modern dance styles.
Contemporary dance instruction, she said, will be added at Legacy Dance Academy.
“The kids want to do the things they’re doing on TV, but we can’t do that unless we implement new programs and new ideas and new structures,” she said.
For more information on Legacy Dance Academy, visit beckyseamster.com. The website address, Palmer said, will be changed in the near future, though the old address still will redirect to the new address. The studio is located at 1716 E. Wheeler St.