ASU professor fills community desire for dance studio


The Appalachian Online

Clare McPherson

An Appalachian State University adjunct dance professor passed a warehouse one day, went in and was then inspired to open her own dance studio.

Sayward Grindley opened the studio, SG Ballet, Jan. 3 off of Highway 421 in the warehouse she discovered that day.

Marissa Stockstad, an Appalachian junior psychology major and apprentice at SG Ballet, described the space as unusual.

“It’s not a typical dance studio [space],” Stockstad said. “Sayward makes it feel more like a dance studio.”

Grindley said she opened the studio to fill a community desire. One of her goals is getting as many people in the community dancing as possible. SG Ballet offers lessons for all ages and ability levels.

“There was a need for additional dance resources,” Grindley said. “This gives opportunities for adult dancers or students that are not able to get into dance classes on campus.”

Grindley said her biggest passion is community building and the want for SG Ballet to be as beneficial for as many people as possible.

Stockstad, who is a member of the student dance organization Momentum, said she wants to dance more than she could if she just attended Appalachian’s dance classes.

“I wanted to be able to take class every day from both [adjunct dance professor] Regina and Sayward,” Stockstad said. “I wanted to continue studying with both perspectives.”

Appalachian students can take classes through the university and at SG Ballet, but Grindley said the programs are independent from each other.

“All students are welcome to take the classes,” said Grindley. “I try to keep everything very separate from the actual department.”

Grindley credited other dance faculty members for aiding in her success, referring to them as her mentors and people that she asks advice from.

Rachel Clark, an English professor at Appalachian, has a 13-year-old daughter who takes the adult-intermediate class at SG Ballet. Clark said she has seen changes in her daughter, Steely, since joining, such as becoming stronger and more engaged.

“Sayward’s vision for her company and studio is more about doing things that aren’t already offered in town,” Clark said. “[It] is a great find for the Boone community and the ASU dance program.”

Clark added that she believes Sayward’s studio, which 135 students have enrolled in thus far, could even be beneficial for Appalachian’s existing dance program.

“More importantly, her company can offer highly skilled ASU student dancers the opportunity for paying dance work if they’re seeking that, which might boost the ASU dance program brand, as they’ll be seen in farther-flung venues,” she said.

While Grindley does groom some dancers to become professionals, she said this is not her main goal.

“My training doesn’t only train dancers to dance professionally,” Grindley said. “It teaches work ethic, self-discipline, confidence, poise, grace under pressure and how to deal with stressful situations in a calm way.”

Story: Clare McPherson, Intern News Reporter