Skip to main content

West Valley City Journal

Chadwick’s dance studio celebrates 50 years

Jul 28, 2017 01:14PM ● By Keyra Kristoffersen

Students at Chadwick’s Dance Studio show off their tap dancing style. (Tiffany Hawke)

Myrna Chadwick loves to dance. She also loves to teach, and in May 2017 “Miss Myrna” as her students call her celebrated the 50th anniversary of Chadwick’s Dance Studio. 

“I had a stage full of alumni,” said Chadwick. “Some of my first students came. It was so fantastic.”

Chadwick, who turns 80 this year, said she was thrilled to see so many of her former students take the opportunity to get back onstage and perform, some coming from out of state where they have their own dance studios. Others have become teachers and choreographers for theater groups. 

Chadwick began dancing at age 4, dancing every day until she became an assistant and finally began teaching classes by herself at 16. She taught in Kearns for a few years before finally settling in what would become West Valley City in 1967.

“She taught combination classes but mostly, she’s really well known for her tap. It was one of the only studios, for a really long time, that taught classical tap,” said Shellie Herren, owner of Shellie’s Dance Studio in Grantsville and former student of Chadwick’s. 

Herren continues to help with teaching students since Chadwick’s two bouts of breast cancer and failing eyesight forced her to quit teaching six years ago, but Herren’s oldest daughter got the chance to study under “Miss Myrna.” 

“I still run the studio, my teachers help me,” said Chadwick, whose dance teachers are all former students. “I have such good teachers.”

Herren started taking combination tap and jazz classes from Chadwick’s Dance Studio at the age of 8 after bouncing around from studio to studio since she was 3 and found that it was place she loved right away. At 12, Herren began assisting in teaching the classes herself, trading the teaching assistance for class tuition for her younger sisters, a tradition at Chadwick’s that continues today. 

“Not only does it help us to have a T.A. in the class to help with 10-12 little kids, but it helps the families out that have multiple students in class because it can get expensive,” said Herren. 

There are also times when a student will be offered the opportunity to teach because it’s clear they’re interested in helping and doing more.

“In part, it was because she saw something in me and she knew that I would love to do that and it was something that I wanted to do,” Herren said. “There are also those students and you see that spark in their eyes that you just know that they would do a fabulous job and it’s something they want to.”

Chadwick’s Dance Studio specializes in tap, jazz, and ballet technique from age 3 to teens and includes a tap class for adults. Chadwick especially loves to create dances that incorporate props such as stairs, canes and chairs. She believes that since dance helps work both the left and right side of the body, it’s a good idea to get children to begin working those muscles before they turn 5 and raised her five children in dance, though, she says, her boys participated under duress. 

Students at the studio can expect to have fun away from the stress of competitions because Chadwick believes they get enough opportunities to do that through school and instead focuses on teaching confidence and new skills. 

“I want them to learn to love to dance, I want them to feel confident about what they can do,”

Chadwick said. She never believed she would still be teaching into her 80s, and was thrilled when not only did she start teaching her second generation students but then the third generation came along. 

“I feel very fortunate that I have done something all my life that I love and there’s something about it and that when you do it, you get a charge,” said Chadwick. “I’ve loved it every minute. I had to get both knees replaced but I earned it, and I enjoyed it.”