Dance Center Footlight is a dance school founded in 1984. Taina Schorin-Keltto actually founded the school as a Tap school. At that time, dance instruction in classical dances was offered in Helsinki, but the supply of instruction in more special dances was rather limited. Street dance classes were waiting for their landing.
“The school started its operations on Sturenkatu in the dance hall in the basement of the Culture House. We were two teachers, me and Maarit Granholm, who at the time was a dancer in the dance group Five Steps. One of the reasons for starting the school was that more tappers were needed for the group and it had become quite clear that we had to train them ourselves.
In the first year, the school had 287 students. It was clearly more than we could have ever expected. The classes were full and we could not add more because no facilities were available. It was time to get own premises. ” says principal Taina Schorin-Keltto of the early days of the school.
New location was quickly found in the basement of the Hotel President. Voluntary workers installed floors, sound insulation and mirrors on the walls and decorated the space. Since Taina's home background was strongly oriented towards the Finnish National Opera (after all, her mother was Ritva Schorin, ballet dancer, and her father Gleb Schorin, stage manager at the National Opera). With the help of Opera relationships, we got help in building the sound systems from the sound expert of the Opera and so we had the most advanced classroom in the city in terms of sound. We were progressive and ambitious already then.
There seemed to be staggering numbers of tappers and it soon became clear that we also needed other dances for our school. Ballet and Jazz Dance came along. At first as a minor, but soon it was quite clear that we could no longer fit in one classroom.
"I have been fortunate to have family around me, whom I have always been able to turn to with my problems. My husband Jukka's family in Ostrobothnia has experts in every aspect, and so we ordered professional relatives from Ostrobothnia for a week in Helsinki, and when Jukka and my father-in-law Vilho worked as helpers, we were able to build another classroom quickly. Tears in the eyes those premises then had to be abandoned in 2007 when the excavations of the Kamppi Center took away our dear classrooms.
The recession of the 90s hit hard on dance education. The dance education, which lacked public support, fought for its existence and only the strong survived. When we had the opportunity to expand into Kaivokatu's premises in 1998, we seized the opportunity and so we had 4 large classrooms at our disposal.
“To Vintti, as we called that new space, we moved in a fearfully respectful atmosphere. Behind was a very severe recession from which recovery was still in hand. We spent several evenings with Jukka, counting and thinking about how we will cope with the expansion of the school, our children as teenagers, home and dog, and Jukka's actual position as a machine agronomist at Kesko. But like other families in this country, we overcome it. The children became socially fit adults, the home remained upright despite the number of dust, and the Amiral dog slowly became an old gentleman who, as a monarch, until 2010 guarded our entrance.”
By year 2000, our school was already the second largest educational dance institution in our country, with more than 2,000 students practicing 15 different forms of dance within our walls. Irish dance, which was offered first in our school and probably also Latin rhythms, could clearly be considered the dance booms of the 21st century. In the late 90's, alongside jazz dance, Show Dance was a new dance and very quickly various street dance genres arrived into the program of dance schools.
“Tap is originally a street dance. The recession of the 1920th brought unemployed men to the streets and they used to challenge each other through dance. The steps were copied and sometimes noises were made when someone had taken another’s steps and claimed them as their own. Battles were well-known encounters between steppers. Even though I am not that old, I already have such a swish that I can safely say that I am happy that the tradition continues and changes its form with new genres and forms of music. ”
New dances and new winds took Dance Center Footlight toward the need for additional space. In 2002, we opened the Mannerheimintie premises and a few years later, the Vintti premises also became cramped and old-fashioned. At the request of the students, we opened premises in Leppävaara, Espoo, where there was little dance offer at that time. And in 2011 it was the turn of Ruoholahti Salmisaari Sports Center with its premises.
As I look back years, after all at the moment thirty years already behind us, I am more than proud of our achievements. The school has grown, but the goals have remained the same. There are more teachers and the school's activities are based on the shoulders of our professional teachers, who are involved with their souls. We have developed a dance school where students feel comfortable and learn in an atmosphere that cares about both dance and the student as a person. Our office has never succumbed to act institutionally but it takes care of individual service and I myself sometimes also act as a strict “mother figure”. That’s when our old students recently reminded me of this: “She was going down the hall and asking, Do I look like your mother? If I don't, please fix your own trash, if I look, you'll fix my trash too, because your mother always has to helped. Stories have been born, the family has supported me in every turn and to my delight I can say our daughter Enni is the third generation of dancers in the Schorin family.
So life has gone like a dance. A bit aching sometimes, and sometimes we have had to stretch all the way to the extremes, but when the curtain has risen and the lights have come on, it has always been a pleasure to step on stage. ”
Today Dance Center Footlight is one of the leading dance schools in our country. We offer teaching in accordance with the extensive curriculum of basic art education in three locations designed for dance in Helsinki and Espoo. In our teaching, we implement the intrinsic values of our school, which are supporting the child's development, family-centered activities and a safe learning environment.
In addition to her position, our principal Taina Schorin-Keltto works e.g. as the chairman of the Association of Finnish Dance Schools (2011-2012), on the Board of Helsinki Entrepreneurs, as the chairman of the Helsinki Tap Association (2000-2012) and as a member of the State Music, Theater and Dance Education Committee (2011-2012) aiming to affect to the development of dance teaching as well as quidelines made by the decision makers in the dance section.
Dance Center Footlight is a strong actor in the dance field.