Young ‘Steps’ students encouraged to pursue dance, ‘big dreams’

By BEVERLY BARELA
September 6, 2018

Sara Fraire, who co-owns Steps Dance Studio in Atwater with her husband Jason, believes in making dreams come true — for herself and for her students.

Her passion is influencing her students to grow in their abilities in dance, and then connecting them with resources so they can pursue their own goals if they wish.

"I’ve made it my mission to see that kids get exposure to Hollywood choreographers,” she told the Times. “Dancers are so talented, but they don’t have resources. Just because we live in a small town doesn’t mean you can’t live out your big city dreams."

Last year, four of Fraire’s students were invited to New York City to train with the Rockettes, a famous precision dance company.

Fraire explained that Steps provides quality choreographers from other areas who come to the studio. She is constantly reaching out and making connections so that she can give her students more opportunities to expand their horizons.

She said, "My passion is to make sure doors are open and students who want to can get jobs at Disneyland, on cruise ships or as part of a tour with a San Francisco company."

Describing how she is able to offer her students opportunities, she explained, "I went to summer camps in Los Angeles, and grew up training with these great choreographers. My peers have gone on to teach in L.A. I stayed in contact with them. Gina Starbuck from Fresno, who went on to pursue her career, comes to my studio about once a year. Gina worked with Prince, and she assisted with choreographers for the tv show, ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. Robert Hoffman, the lead in ‘Step Up 2: The Streets', has also come to the studio to instruct."

Fraire described her personal dream come true, owning her own dance studio.

She exclaimed, "It’s been my dream since I was 8-year-old! When I was in school, I choreographed routines with my friends, and then we performed them in the classrooms."

She opened Steps in 2005. In addition to her downtown Atwater location at 158 Broadway Avenue, three years ago she opened her second "uptown" location at 598 Bellevue Road.

The age group she works with is 2-1/2 years old to adult. She offers classes in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, contemporary and competitive dance. She also provides private lessons.

Besides herself, six dance teachers work with the students.

Steps Dance Studio’s competitive level team competes up and down the State and has won awards.

Fall Season at Steps Dance Studio has just started.

Fraire said, "We’re always open to taking new enrollment. We understand that entering a dance class for the first time can be intimidating, and we try to get to know each student and work with them at their pace."

Explaining how her husband, Jason, assists her with maintenance and making students feel comfortable, she laughed, "We have all boys, so he calls my dance students his dance daughters. He does maintenance and gets to know the kids."

One of the first Fall Season classes, Ballet, was attended by a group of young ones. The children were having fun and doing well.

They were being instructed by Taylor Oliver.

Fraire said, proudly, "Taylor started dance here at age 7 or 8, and now she’s one of our teachers."

For more about Steps Dance Studio, go online to the Steps Facebook page or to the website at: stepsinatwater.com


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