Karen Kibler - Mahomet

My daughter is Kaylee Kibler, however most know her by “Kibby”. Kaylee was a student of Art In Motion beginning just prior to her second birthday (2001) and finishing upon graduating her senior year in 2017. When we first enrolled her in dance class we were not anticipating the many years of training, recitals, and competitions; we were simply giving our littlest child an opportunity to have an activity of her own. At two she had already spent a great deal of time as a spectator of her older brothers activities so now she had an hour a week to call her own.  Kaylee loved dance from the beginning and we quickly signed her up for more lessons- year two we added an extra class, year 3 she was enrolled in 4 classes, and by year 4 we dove in and signed her up for unlimited classes. In those early years we noticed that Kaylee seemed to have “more control” over her body and her emotions than many of her peers. She was able to “sit still” during pre school story time where her classmates were fidgety.  She didn’t have the tantrums that some of her other friends were prone to. She was able to look adults in the eye when speaking. At the time, I didn’t realize that this was largely due to what was happening in the studio, however looking back I can see it loud and clear. At that early phase she was taught to take turns, respect her teacher/coach, move and control her muscles. She began understanding emotions (in musical theater class) and different fun and sometimes silly ways to express those feelings. She gained confidence through mastering different skills and learning new ones. She became motivated to do more and be more as she witnessed older students performing. We continually had her school teachers marveling at her ability to take control, stand up for what she believed in, her confidence when answering questions or giving presentations. She was young for her class (August birthday) but acted as if she were one of the older kids in the group. 

Sometime in early grade school, I believe it was third or maybe fourth grade, we decided to allow her to audition for the competition team. We knew this would be a huge commitment but she seemed up for the challenge. This was possibly one of the best decisions we had made in terms of helping our children choose an activity. Her schedule went from busy to super busy. She learned the value of time management and planning ahead. Her confidence continued to grow as she gained more time on the stage. She set goals for herself both on and off of the dance floor and she saw results in reaching for those goals.

She became an assistant to the dance instructors beginning in late elementary school. This taught her how to be assertive in a positive way. She began learning how to breakdown skills to begin teaching them to the younger students. She saw the value in being a leader even though it wasn’t always the easiest thing to do. And yes- time management again.

Through Jr High and High School Kibby was taking dance class 3 days per week, teaching dance class 2 days per week, practicing her 15-20 company dances all day on Saturday, all while taking advanced/honors classes in school, and also did I mention she was on a club soccer team through eight grade. Again with the time management. It’s a theme! 

Something that may or may not take you by surprise, Kibby never aspired to continue dance after high school. Not even in the beginning. Why then did we allow her to immerse herself so completely? Why wouldn’t we? Dance fueled her soul. Dance gave her an outlet when life gave her heartache. Dance gave her friendships that were much deeper than most ever have a chance to experience. Dance gave her a room full of extra moms and sisters (and just a couple brothers) to lift her up. Dance kept her on track.

I was occasionally asked by outside parents if I felt guilty about Kibby not having “the high school experience” or not being able to do the things that others got to do. My response always came back to a few important points. Firstly, who is it to say what THE high school experience should be? My ideas for myself were definitely different from that of my daughter’s. Was I wrong or was she wrong? I seem to have more regrets for myself than she does. Secondly, I would argue that she experienced way more than most high school students. She traveled to many states and made friendships with fellow dancers that span the nation. She danced at conventions with famous choreographers. She learned a healthy was to exercise her body and her emotions. I could go on and on.

Kibby is beginning her second year at Bradley University in Peoria and is a direct admit student for their Physical Therapy Doctorate. She is taking a full load of classes along with being the main choreographer for Vitality, which is the hip hop dance group on campus. She is also the co President for Bradley’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity and the Vice President of the Red Sea, which is the University’s student cheering section. She also received the Woman’s league scholarship, Bonnie plant company scholarship, presidential scholarship, Bradley grant recipient, IL MAP grant recipient.  She was awarded the Presidential Scholarship and was on the Dean’s List for grades freshman year. Can you say time management??

Bottom line- would we choose this path again if given the chance? 100 percent!

Chris Clapp - Champaign

Megan and Monica were on AIM's competition team for 10 and 12 years respectively. Although they have not pursued dance after AIM (Megan is majoring in Chemical Engineering, and getting Minors in Chemistry and Business, and Monica is majoring in Operation and Supply Chain Management), what they learned on that team is priceless.

Balancing dance with school helped them learn great time management skills, prioritization, delayed gratification and effective study habits (skills which they have continued to practice in college with much success).

At AIM, they made wonderful friends, had a positive and safe place to spend time, felt a strong sense of family and developed confidence in themselves and their abilities.

They were both STM Ambassadors, in National Honor Society, and cheerleaders. Mo was a peer tutor for a bit. Megan was in the Spanish Honor Society until she dropped Spanish.
Megan is now an Engineering Ambassador, a member of Women in Engineering, and has held offices for the Engineering Student Council and a member of Steel Ring (Engineering Honor Society).
She has been Sunshine Chair and House Manager for her sorority. She is now a Student- Alumni Board Member for KSU overall.

Monica is a Business Ambassador. She has been Secretary of her sorority and is now Standards Chair.

Nikki Harder McGirr - Clinton

Right out of high school I served in the United States Marine Corps and I was prepared for that service because I developed perseverance from dance.  I spent countless hours at AIM working on new skills and it didn’t always come easy to me.  Through that experience I learned not to be discouraged when things don’t work out the first time around.  I know that when I fall down (because in dance you will literally fall down) I can get up and try again… and again, and again, and again.  After college I worked as a probation officer with both adult and juvenile offenders who need a lot of encouragement.  Through dance I learned how to support my team. Tricia always created an atmosphere where we cheer each other on and it became second nature to encourage the people around me.  Most importantly, Tricia planted seeds of faith in my life.  I didn’t make the decision to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior until my mid 20’s but witnessing Tricia’s faith throughout my life pointed me to a personal relationship with Jesus.  I can’t even say all the ways dance shaped who I am as a person. Literally everything I am today has been in some way influenced by Tricia & Chad & everything they taught me.  They really change the world one kid at a time.  

Becka Lemek - Bloomington- 2016 Grad

When I was a freshman in high school I started dancing at Art In Motion and chose to be apart of the competition team. Back then I was unaware that would be one of the most transforming and impactful decisions of my life. Every once in awhile our minds tend to wonder about the “what if’s” in life. I never wonder “what if I never went to Art In Motion?”, instead I wonder “what if I started dancing there sooner?”. That in itself should be proof of the impact the studio left on me. Every new beginning has a shaky start, but something I’ve learned lately is that it’s okay to be a beginner. The studio soon enough became my second home, always awaiting me with precious hugs from the kindest people. The benefits of this studio are lifelong. By joining the competition team I learned discipline, time management, dedication, respect for others, and self expression. High school can be a stressful time and I was lucky enough to have dance be my healthy “de-stress and express” space. I am now attending St. Ambrose University pursuing an Exercise Science degree with a Pre-Med focus. As if rigorous science courses aren't enough, I am still involved on campus, but thankfully competitive dance made me accustomed to the “fast pace” life. AIM staff will hold you accountable, shaping you into not just a better dancer, but a better individual. You will have the best journey of your life and even if you hang up the dance shoes, as I did after high school, the Art In Motion heart and work ethic will lie within you forever. 

Tina Knox - Farmer City

Tori started dancing when she was 3 years old.  She was a shy young girl and dance really helped her to be able to express her feelings and it brought her out of her comfort zone.  My husband and I didn’t think there was anyway she would dance on stage for her first recital, but she shocked us by absolutely shining.  She loved it and was hooked on performing.  Everything in our neighborhood became a stage to her.  There were numerous performances for our neighbors.

At the studio, she began watching the older competition girls and longed to be a part of the excitement.  I actually thought it might be too much of a time commitment for her, so we slowly worked up to it by increasing her schedule from 2 or 3 classes a week to unlimited and participating in all of the studio workshops.  I actually thought it would wear her out and she would give up on that dream, but it had the opposite effect.  She couldn’t stop dancing.  We encouraged her try just about every sport available to her in school, but nothing gripped her passion like dance.  At age 8, we took the plunge into the world of competition and never looked back.  Art in Motion became our second home.  Tori met so many wonderful kids from all different backgrounds, and she found a great group of friends with good values.  Her dad and I never worried that she would get in trouble and we viewed AIM as a safe place for her to spend her time.

As she moved into junior high and school work got more involved, she had to develop really good time management skills in order to stay on top of everything at home, school and dance.  This is something she was able to utilize in high school where she was a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  I love that Chad and Tricia incorporated their Christian values into the studio and helped develop these values in their dancers. They provided opportunities for giving back to the community, hosted youth groups and always prayed with the dancers.  It was truly an amazing environment for Tori to grow up.

In high school one of her dance teachers entrusted her with a short solo part in the ballet for recital.  The feeling this part brought out in her on stage helped her to decide on a career path.  She told us, “I know if I don’t at least try to pursue dance as a career, I will regret it for the rest of my life.”  There were definitely some bumps and disappointments along the way in her 15 years at AIM, but this helped her grow as a young woman.  She learned how to take constructive criticism and make everything a learning experience.  This has served her well through her first year as a dance performance major at the University of Missouri Kansas City.  AIM has provided Tori and our family with some life-long friendships and given her some amazing mentors and opportunities.  Even though she is now 6 hours away, her AIM family is and always will be close to her heart. 

Connie & Steve Miller - Mahomet

Our daughter began dancing at Art In Motion when she was 3 years old.  We started by just taking a couple of classes and added classes each year as she grew and developed as a dancer.  Em joined the dance team when she was about 10.  She basically grew up at the studio!

Dance has had a HUGE impact on Emilee's life in many ways.  While she was in junior high and high school, dance gave Emilee a sense of stability and structure. She didn't get caught up in the "drama" of high school (which can be a huge challenge for many girls) because she had her dance family to support and love her.  She learned many great life lessons through dance like discipline, time management, the importance of being a team player, how to take direction from your teachers and coaches.  Emilee also began teaching classes in junior high which taught her responsibility and leadership skills.

One of the most treasured gifts from dance is the life long friends Em made while there.  Em met her 4 best friends through dance. They are now juniors and seniors in college and they are still best friends, they grew up together and are like sisters.  They love and support each other and hold each other accountable.

Art in Motion was a home away from home for Em during her years in junior high and high school.  It was a 2nd family for her and a safe, loving environment.  It has helped her develop into a strong, confident,  courageous, kind, driven young lady.  The lessons she learn through dance are immeasurable.  Even though it was a sacrifice at times, we are so grateful Emilee had the opportunity to have this amazing experience.  Thank you Tricia and Chad and all of the teachers that had a part in helping our daughter become the person she is today.