GALION — Anna Matney’s lifelong passion has now become her profession.
Matney, age 25, is the new owner and director of Eagle Dance Center, 110 Harding Way West in Galion. The studio was established by Shannon and Todd Eagle, who owned and operated the popular studio for two and a half decades.
“It has been a privilege to work with your children for 25 years!” Shannon Eagle posted to the studio’s Facebook page on May 17. “More great things are coming for EDC and for your dancers and we can’t wait to continue to watch the growth and new ideas!!”
Matney, who took over the business on June 1, became a student at Eagle Dance Center when she was just three years old. She said “it was kind of a joke with my family.”
“My parents put me in dance because I had no coordination,” Matney said with a grin. “I don’t think anyone would’ve really expected that, 22 years later, here we are. Dance literally turned into my entire lifestyle. Everything I do has been molded around dance and the arts. … I’ve always been at Eagle. Grew up here. Spent my entire time here.”
About eight years into her blossoming love affair with dance and the performing arts at Eagle Dance Center, Matney said she determined that she wanted to pursue it as a career.
“I figured out at a really early age — I think I was 11 or 12 — that this is what I really wanted to do; this is exactly what I want to do,” she said. “As I hit middle school and high school, I started assisting, teaching classes. Later in high school, I started teaching classes on my own. After I graduated, I just dove right into it — teaching, choreographing, helping Shannon with the back end of things, learning the business. It just escalated from there.”
Having developed a close relationship with the Eagle family over the past two decades, Matney said she made known to Shannon Eagle her desire to own a dance studio. About two years ago, Matney said, conversations about the business took on a more serious tone.
“I think once she realized I was serious about it, she asked me, ‘Are you genuinely interested in this?’” Matney said. “I said, ‘Yes, absolutely. One hundred percent I’m interested.’ I didn’t even have to think about it. But I didn’t think it would happen this soon.”
Matney said she loves dance because it’s an art form that allows anyone to express themselves, regardless of ability.
“It’s not particular. It doesn’t pick and choose,” she said, seemingly reflecting on her own personal experience. “It is something that everybody can do, no matter what your age is, no matter what your race is, no matter if you might have a mental or physical disability — there are no boundaries to it. It’s way that so many people can connect. I don’t really know if there’s anything else that can connect people in that way.
“It gives anyone and everybody a way to express whatever they want to express or need to express. I think that’s the intriguing part for me and what makes it so special. No limitations.”
Matney said her goal is to continue to foster an atmosphere at Eagle Dance Center where everyone feels welcome and comfortable to display their emotions, just as she has there for the past two decades.
“Shannon instilled so many core values into Eagle Dance Center that I do not want to lose,” Matney said. “And I want it to grow. I want to get us out into the community and reach more kids, get more kids in here. In September, we also plan to offer some adult classes.”
Matney, daughter of Rod and Heidi Matney, is an alumnus of Galion High School and Pioneer Career and Technology Center, where she earned a performing arts certificate with a focus in dance.
For information about Eagle Dance Center, contact Matney at 419-210-4153, go to the studio’s website www.eagledancecenter.com, or visit Eagle Dance Center on Facebook.
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