Why should I choose Turning Pointe School of Dance?
Turning Pointe School of Dance has served the community for 20 years with the mission statement: preparing the dancer in body and spirit to glorify God through artistic excellence.
We are a unique combination of a nonprofit Christian ministry and a pre-professional dance school. We start all of our classes with a brief devotion as part of our year-long Bible Study curriculum. All of our performances are family-friendly and God-glorifying. We provide a safe space for students to learn to dance and we costume your dancer modestly. Over the years, our pre-professional quality dance training has equipped our graduating young women and men to secure positions as paid dancers in professional companies, to become artistic directors and dance teachers, and to use the discipline and time management skills gained through their dance training in the fields of Architecture, Education, Law, Mathematics, and Medicine. These young men and women have grown in their faith and learned to give testimony of God’s work in their lives by integrating their love for dance with their faith.
If you would like a tour of the studio or to talk to one of our staff members about Turning Pointe School of Dance, call (616) 394-7109. We would love to meet you and show you around!
If you would like a tour of the studio or to talk to one of our staff members about Turning Pointe School of Dance, call (616) 394-7109. We would love to meet you and show you around!
Who Are The Teachers?
Turning Pointe School of Dance is proud of our highly trained and experienced team of teachers who are committed to sharing their love of the Lord and their giftings in dance with our students. Please take a moment to read about our team:
Ms. Gretchen A. (Training Division Ballet, Pointe) is an instructor of the arts with over 20 years of teaching experience. She graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from Wayne State University and is also trained in the Cecchetti method of ballet and fully certified to the Professional VI level. Gretchen’s teaching positions include 18 years at Grand Valley State University where she was a Professor of Classical Ballet, Jazz, Tap, and Modern. “As I left the performance role and stepped into the teaching role, I found it absolutely rewarding, imparting my experience and knowledge to young students who are so eager to learn.” Gretchen loves teaching at Turning Pointe. “The most fulfilling part for me is to inspire students and guide them to their full potential. I love the look they have when they know they have mastered a skill thy have been working so hard for! That is the reward! I feel so blessed to be an Instructor at Turning Pointe School of Dance; being a small part of the lives of such amazing, hardworking students and coaching them in the art of ballet.” Outside of dance, Gretchen is a mother of five children and one St. Bernard. She is also a loving grandmother of two. Her favorite verse is Ephesians 4:2 ~ Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ms. Debra B. (Training Division Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop) Debra’s career and passion as a ballet instructor and mentor of ballet students and teachers spans three decades. Debra began dancing at the age of five and studied the Cecchetti Method of Ballet. She also trained in Pointe, Lyrical, Tap and Jazz. Debra successfully passed student examinations in the Cecchetti Method Grades I-V and she has passed her Cecchetti Teacher Examinations in Grades I-V. She is currently studying Cecchetti Teacher Grade VI. Debra has served on the Cecchetti General Board for many years and belongs to the Western Michigan Cecchetti Committee. She has been a Registrar and Host for dance examinations and workshops. Debra was also certified by Dance Masters of America in Ballet, Tap, and Jazz and has been a member of Dance Masters of America and Dance Masters of Michigan.
Debra was the Owner, Artistic Director and Dance Instructor at Dance World, a 300 student dance studio in the Waterford/Clarkston, Michigan area for nine years. During this time she enjoyed teaching, preparing students Ballet examinations and directing annual Showcases. Debra had the unique opportunity to work with Mr. Bob McGrath from Sesame Street as Children’s Coordinator and Instructor for a Waterford Cultural Arts Performance. She sold her studio and moved to Grand Rapids in 1999 where she taught at the Academy of Dance Arts until 2012. While there she had the opportunity to work with the Moscow Ballet for four seasons as Assistant to Children’s Coordinator and the Children’s Dance Instructor for “The Great Russian Nutcracker” at DeVos Performance Hall.
Debra has been teaching at Turning Pointe since 2012. She has served as Head of Curriculum and Interim Artistic Director. In 2014 Debra was asked by the Board of Directors to serve as Director and was promoted to Executive Director in 2016. Debra feels blessed to be a part of the Turning Pointe family. The Lord is her Savior and she places her trust fully in His grasp. Eph. 2:10 ~For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Miss Ericka G. (Training Division Ballet, Pointe) trained at the School of the Grand Rapids Ballet, where she studied for four years, eventually receiving a full scholarship to Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education. After training in Atlanta for a year she was hired into Atlanta Ballet where she performed for two seasons. Ericka then moved to Missouri where she danced with the Saint Louis Ballet Company for six seasons and also taught at the Atlanta Ballet School. Most recently Ericka performed with Deos Contemporary Ballet under the direction of Tess Sinke Hoekstra.
Ms. Sarah H. (Training Division Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre) has been teaching dance for over eleven years and has over twenty-two years of dance experience. She was classically trained in Ballet through the Cecchetti method and has advanced training in Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Contemporary, and Hip Hop. Sarah graduated from Alma College with a degree in Dance and Integrative Physiology/Health Science. While at Alma College she performed with the Alma College Dance Company under Carol Fike, Samantha Shelton, and Tom Morris and was an active member of Pi Delta Chi, the dance honorary. She has performed all over the United States with different dance teams and also performed in Taiwan in 2011. Sarah was a member of the Grand Rapids Dance Ensemble during the fall 2018 season. Sarah has a Master’s degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Education & Health Promotion from Grand Valley State University. She currently works for Priority Health in their Wellness department and also teaches at Turning Pointe. Sara loves sharing her passion for dance! “I love teaching at Turning Pointe because I love the students!! They are so loving and caring for one another! I have always felt so loved and welcomed here! I enjoy watching the students grow in both their faith and their dance training! It is a beautiful and humbling experience!” In her free time Sarah enjoys reading, scrapbooking, crafting, and camping. She has two dogs, Bella and Boomer. Her favorite Bible verse is Galatians 5:22 ~But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Miss Tahlia H. (Recreational and Training Division Ballet) started dancing when she was four years old, training at Reflections of Grace and then Turning Pointe School of Dance. She performed with the Turning Pointe Performance Ensemble for several years. She also participated in Musical Theatre during her high school years. After serving as an Apprentice Teacher at Turning Pointe for two years she starting teaching in 2018. Tahlia also attends Great Lakes EMS Academy for EMT training. Her hobbies include photography, making music and dancing as much as possible. Tahlia’s favorite verse is 1 Timothy 4:4 ~ For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.
Ms. Keely H. (Training Division Ballet, Pointe, Progressing Ballet Technique) took her early training at Etudes de Ballet, Faubourg School of Dance, and Naples Academy of Dance in Florida. Throughout high school Keely attended Summer Intensives at the Harid Conservatory, The Bolshoi Ballet, and Canada’s National Ballet School. After high school Keely trained full time in the Professional Division of Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. She then earned the position of Company Trainee and, subsequently, Company Apprentice with the Grand Rapids Ballet where she danced for three years. Keely is certified in Progressing Ballet Technique. Keely is married to her husband, John, and has two cats, Gizmo and Totoro. She enjoys yoga, Pilates, reading, and spending time with family. Her favorite verse is Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Miss Ellie K. (Recreational and Training Division Ballet, Musical Theatre) trained at Turning Pointe School of Dance for ten years and performed with the Performance Ensemble for six years. She attended Ballet Summer Intensives at Turning Pointe School of Dance, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and Ballet 5:8. Ellie served as an Assistant, then an Apprentice Teacher at Turning Pointe for six years prior to being hired as an instructor. Her hobbies include reading and writing. One of her favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 40:31 ~ But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Ms. Amy P. (Recreational and Training Division Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Jazz, Uniquely Gifted class) graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alabama with degrees in both English and Dance. Following graduation she completed a nine month internship, teaching and performing with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, MD. For the next three years, Amy danced with Southern DanceWorks (Alabama’s oldest modern dance company) in Birmingham, AL. Over the past two decades she has taught dance classes for all ages, including those with special needs such as Autism and Downs Syndrome. Currently, Amy and her husband, John David, live in Holland, M I with their three children, Jake, Tyler, and Emma. In her spare time she enjoys reading, gardening, and knitting. Her favorite Bible verse is Ephesians 5: 1-2 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Miss Tori S. (Recreational Division Ballet, Ballet/Tap) started dancing in her freshman year of high school. As a member of the Turning Pointe Pre- Ensemble, Tori performed in many productions at the Knickerbocker Theatre. With a natural love of teaching and young students (she is one of 11 children) she served as an Apprentice Teacher for several years, and began teaching in 2019. Tori is currently studying Elementary Education at Grand Valley State University. In her spare time, she practices the cello and loves spending time in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes. Tori’s favorite thing about teaching is watching the students grow in their dance skills and in their relationship with God. Her favorite bible verse is Matthew 5:16 (NIV) ~ In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Ms. Dani S. (Training Division Ballet, Pointe, Pointe Variation, Pilates, Progressing Ballet Technique) received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree in Dance Performance from Butler University in Indianapolis, IN where she performed throughout her four years. She started teaching at Turning Pointe in January of 2013. Dani currently teaches and is employed as a freelance dancer and choreography across the Midwest in Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Michigan. She also is a Pilates instructor and enthusiast and an avid reader. Dani is originally from Jackson, TN and lives in Hudsonville, MI with her husband, William, and her dog. Her favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Ms. Tess S. (Training Division Ballet, Pointe, Contemporary, Progressing Ballet Technique) began her dance training at the School of the Grand Rapids Ballet. She graduated from Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA, with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Dance Choreography and Religious Studies. Tess has had the privilege of setting her choreography on Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre, Tapestry Dance Company, Soli Deo Gloria Contemporary Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Indiana, Inaside Choreographic Sponsorship Event, Delve Choreography Showcase and multiple YAGP soloist contestants. She is certified in Progressing Ballet Technique. Tess recently completed a choreographic and teaching residency at Mercyhurst University.
Tess is the Resident Choreographer for Turning Pointe School of Dance’s Professional Training Division. She has overseen the production of eight full length productions at Turning Pointe School of Dance. She has created two original ballets for Turning Pointe’s professional training division and is currently working on a third. In the spring of 2015 her original ballet, It Is Well, was performed for Dutch Royalty during their U.S. tour. Tess is also the Creative Director of Deos Contemporary Ballet, a professional ballet company that operates during the summer months.
Tess and her husband Andrew are enjoying life in Holland with their dog, Penny, and their PAWS foster puppy. Tess is blessed to be a part of the Turning Pointe School of Dance ministry family and is proud to call Jesus Christ her Lord and Savior. She finds peace in the stillness of his overwhelming grace and all-sufficient love. Ephesians 3:16-19 continues to be her inspiration and foundation, a reminder that God’s love and grace was, is and always will be enough.
Miss Marcella S. (Recreational Division Ballet, Hip Hop, TD Jazz and Contemporary) began her early/ intermediate training in Grand Rapids, MI. During her high school years she trained at Turning Pointe School of Dance under Debra Burr and Tess Sinke. She was a member of the Turning Pointe Performance Ensemble for six years, during which she performed Corps and Soloist roles in many original ballets. After serving as an Assistant and then an Apprentice Teacher for many years, Marcella began teaching at Turning Pointe in 2018 and currently teaches Pre-Ensemble Jazz, Ensemble Contemporary, Christian Hip Hop, and Recreational Division Ballet. She also works as an EMT. Marcella’s favorite Bible verse is Deuteronomy 31:6 ~ Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Miss Katie V. (Recreational and Training Division Ballet, Pointe) received her ballet training at the School of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company under Patricia Barker and Akop/Gaiane Akopian with summer training at Joffrey Midwest Summer Intensive. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and a minor in Business Administration from Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. While a Belhaven student she performed original works by her professors and Steve Rooks, most notably Mikhail Fokine’s Les Sylphides and George Balanchine’s Serenade. In the summer of 2014, she had the opportunity to travel to Madrid, Spain on a mission trip to work at the Aslan Performing Arts Center. She taught dance and English as well as helping choreograph and creating costumes for the musical that was put on by the students. Her favorite verse is Isaiah 41:10 ~ So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I with strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Miss Brooke W. (Recreational and Training Division Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Musical Theatre, Hip Hop) started dancing at the age of 3 training in Ballet, Tap, and Jazz. For six years she competed in Tap and Jazz at Regional and National Competitions. In High School Brooke trained at Turning Pointe School of Dance, performing in the large-scale, ticketed Performance Ensemble shows while also performing with the Hudsonville High School Dance Team. Serving as a sideline and competitive cheerleader further enhanced Brooke’s breadth of training. As a student she served as a Teaching Apprentice for several years prior to graduating and becoming a teacher in 2012. Brooke has also coached the Hudsonville Dance Team and has run the dance ministry for a local church. She recently attended Motor City Tap Fest in Detroit, taking Master Classes with leading Tap artists in the industry. Brooke became Leader of Hudsonville Ballet in the fall of 2016 and was promoted to Head of the Recreational Division in 2018. Brooke feels that “Turning Pointe is a place where everyone encourages you to build your relationship with Christ and bring glory to Him. I love working in an enriching environment that challenges me as well as provides the opportunity to encourage others.” Her favorite verse is Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God & His Righteousness and all these things shall be given to you.
Ms. Sydney Z. (Training Division Ballet, Pointe, Contemporary) began her ballet training in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When she was fifteen she was invited to join Turning Pointe School of Dance’s Senior Ensemble under Debra Burr and Tess Sinke. She attended summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre ~ Detroit under Samantha Shelton and Elaine O’Beare as well as Ballet Magnificat ~ Mississippi where she was awarded a full scholarship and was placed in the Pre-Professional level. In 2014 Sydney joined Michigan’s first faith- based professional ballet company, Soli Deo Gloria Contemporary Ballet (Holland, MI). She was a Company Apprentice for two years and had the opportunity to choreograph for their 2015-2016 season. In 2016 Sydney was hired as an Apprentice with Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet in Connecticut. In 2017 she was promoted to Company Artist and had the opportunity to perform many original works set on the company by inspiring choreographers. From 2016-2020 She frequently toured to NYC, New Hampshire, Maryland, and North Carolina. Sydney was also on faculty at Ekklesia School of Ballet and the Dance Centre of Old Lyme. In 2018 Sydney performed in Deos Contemporary Ballet’s (Holland, MI) first summer season. She is still involved in ongoing projects with Deos. Sydney currently lives in Holland, MI with her husband, Benjamin. Sydney has a great love of dance and teaching, especially the way this art-form gives glory to our Creator!
What are the benefits of dance for my child?
“Dance is a powerful ally for developing many of the attributes of a growing child. Dance helps children mature physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. The physical benefits of dance are widely accepted, but the emotional, social and cognitive attributes have only recently begun to be appreciated.
Physical Development: Dance involves a greater range of motion, coordination,strength and endurance than most other physical activities. This isaccomplished through movement patterns that teach coordination and kinesthetic memory. Dancing utilizes the entire body and is an excellent form of exercise for total body fitness. Young children are naturally active, but dance offers an avenue to expand movement possibilities and skills.
Emotional Maturity: Dance promotes psychological health and maturity. Children enjoy the opportunity to express their emotions and become aware of themselves and others through creative movement. A pre-school child enters a dance class or classroom with a history of emotional experiences. Movement within a class offers a structured outlet for physical release while gaining awareness and appreciation of oneself and others.
Social Awareness: Dance fosters social encounter, interaction, and cooperation. Children learn to communicate ideas to others through the real and immediate mode of body movement. Children quickly learn to work within a group dynamic. As the ongoing and sometimes challenging process of cooperation evolves, children learn to understand themselves in relation to others.
Cognitive Development: Young children will create movement spontaneously when presented with movement ideas or problems that can be solved with a movement response. Movement provides the cognitive loop between the idea, problem, or intent and the outcome or solution. This teaches an infant, child and, ultimately, adult to function in and understand the world. The relationship of movement to intellectual development and education is an embryonic field of study that has only recently begun to be explored.”
From the National Dance Education Organization, www.ndeo.org