When your children tell you that they are interested in either gymnastics or dance and would like to take classes, you immediately dive into research, looking for the best of the best in town. You want your children to learn the craft, but you want them to learn the discipline and the commitment it will take to do well. You also would like them to have fun and maybe even develop some lifelong friendships.
That’s what Tapio School of Dance and Gymnastics strives to provide for their pupils. Named Best Dance Studio and Best Gymnastics Facility by the readers of Mount Pleasant Magazine, their reputation of being the best certainly lives up to reality.
It all started in 1956, right here East of the Cooper, when Johanna Runey Tapio started Tapio School of Dance, which she owned and operated for over 20 years. Now her daughter, Susan, along with Susan’s husband, Steven Breland, have been operating the school since 1978.
They are not only the best in town, but they are also the longest-standing studio in the community.
“It’s a family atmosphere here,” Breland said. “We have grown with the community. We plan to continue to grow and maintain as the city evolves and as our third generation of family manages the business.”
The Brelands grew up East of the Cooper and were actually in the first graduating class of Wando High School.
“We’re from here, so we have loyalty to our roots,” she explained. “This has been our home our whole entire life.”
One of the main aspects of Tapio School of Dance and Gymnastics that sets them apart from the rest is the fact that they teach both dance and gymnastics in-house. Breland said that they have offered for 28 years an afterschool program, which was uncommon among other dance schools in the area.
Breland said she has seen many of the children who have passed through their doors go on to bigger and better things – so many that she couldn’t even count!
“Every year students are awarded scholarships through the competitions,” she said. “Also a number of students have opened their own studios in other cities around the country. They come back and tell us what they learned from us.”
For Breland, operating Tapio goes far beyond just teaching gymnastics or dance to the students.
“They learn life lessons from us,” she said. “We teach them that if you fall off the balance beam or fall out of a turn, you have to get back up and try again. I feel that all children who pass through our doors come to us for a reason. They enter our lives not only to learn dance and gymnastics but are here to teach and reach out to us to make us better at what we do. We continue to learn and grow from all of our customers – that’s what makes us a better place.”
As their mission statement states: “We will help develop their minds, their bodies and their spirits using dance and gymnastics as our vehicle.”
For more information on Tapio School of Dance and Gymnastics, visit www.tapioschool.com.
By Theresa Stratford