ART

UM student continues dance career in Oxford

Kara Knapik
The Oxford Eagle

Raised in and around a dance community for the majority of her life, Francesca Decosmo knew she wanted to continue dancing when she arrived in Oxford to continue her career.

“I found Oxford Academy of Dance Arts on Facebook, and I messaged them,” said Decosmo, a member and teacher at the Oxford Academy of Dance Arts, also known as OADA.

“OADA has affected the community positively because it gives girls and boys of all ages in Oxford, even college students, an outlet to express themselves,” she said. “It also is a great way for them to become involved and meet other members of the community.”

Decosmo has been a member of OADA since they opened in 2013. She teaches students of all ages, but she particularly enjoys working with the younger kids.

“I started dancing at the age of 3,” she said. “I was 14 when I started coaching, and I only had lessons with one girl. But I loved it so much, and choreography came easy to me. I wanted to be able to help kids express themselves and have fun in a carefree environment. It’s also a good way to earn money.”

Teaching has not only improved the dancing skills of her students. It has been a great way for Francesca to improve herself.

“I feel like teaching the students has helped me become a better dancer,” she said, “because constantly going over technical things you learn in the beginning of your dance career helps you not get lazy and not forget to do it yourself.”

Decosmo is able to use these skills teaching and performing in OADA dance shows at the Power House each semester. Her love for dancing and preforming are equally as big.

“I do not enjoy one of them more than the other,” she said. “Sometimes, it is most frustrating teaching. But sometimes, it is more nerve-wracking preforming them. I find they both are very rewarding, and I love being able to do both.”

Lydia Turner is in charge of the studio. She provides a great platform for the students to get hands-on experience and encourages them every step of the way.

“Hiring college students like Francesca allows them to be able to be involved in our community,” Turner said, “and it is also a great way to spread the word about our studio.”

Turner said she has benefited from working with college students.

“The best part about working with college students is that I don’t have to be as serious all the time,” she said. “They are also able to teach me different techniques (and) sense we have students dancing here from all over the country.”

Oxford’s population growth is giving new businesses and industries a chance to take off. While dance may be one of the newer industries in Oxford, there are plans for expansion in the future.

“We currently have a sister studio in Tupelo,” she said. “The studio here in Oxford is only three years old, but every year, more and more students register, and hopefully one day, we’ll outgrow the current studio and move into a bigger space.”

Turner said the dance studio offers a variety of classes for ages 3-22.

“Our times are really convenient for parents with more than one child, and our prices are also very affordable,” she said.

Turner’s passion for just the studio and dedication to her students has continued to grow.

“Being able to form relationships with all of my students and being able to watch them grow over the years, is my favorite part about my job,” she said. “It’s also nice to get paid to do something I love.”

Decosmo said when you’re teaching a child and it “clicks” for them, they become really excited.

“It makes you feel good to see them do so well,” she said.

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