As one of the first ballet students at the newly formed Pennsylvania Ballet School in the 60’s, I received excellent ballet training with this young energetic school. However, I was short and athletic, never to become a long willowy ballet dancer, as the times were demanding then. So musical theater became my passion, which also helped to utilized my bubbly personality.
I trained all dance styles. I performed as much as possible. I began teaching and choreographing. I wanted to pass on my passion.
My husband and I opened BB’s Dance Factory in 2000, located in the old Clearwater Mall in the old Blockbuster video store. It was great! We constantly had an audience of shoppers stopping to peer in the windows at our classes. We built a bevy of young talented dancers, specializing in classical ballet, jazz and musical theater.
AND THEN CAME THE CIRCUS…
One day my daughter, Catie, who was one of these lovely young dancers, decided that she didn't want to be a dancer anymore. Instead, she wanted to run away with the circus and be a “contortionist”.
Her Fairy God Mother had given her a video of the 4 little pink contortionists with Cirque du Soleil from their early show “Nouvelle Experience”. It was fabulously fascinating. All Catie wanted to do was stay in her room and try to put her toes over her head. Then she started to get all the other girls at our dance studio to put their toes over their heads.
Needless to say, Catie’s wish was the beginning of a wonderful journey and provided the vision for our Circus Arts program.
At age 16, we shipped her off to train with Chinese contortion coach, Master Lu Yi, and Mongolian coach Serchmaa Byamba, all the way over in San Francisco, as this was the only place in the country at the time where she could get the proper training. After two years of intensive work, she became a respected dancer/acrobat/contortionist in the entertainment industry.
As I was watching her train one day during a visit, I observed the other athletes training in the gym. All of this was very interesting to me as a Choreographer and Artistic Director. So instead of just sitting and watching her train as a doting mother…I decided to get myself a few lessons and wrap my wits around a trapeze. If I could incorporate this circus stuff in my dance shows, how much fun would that be?!
So we established a Circus Arts program at our dance studio. We changed our name to “Dance & Circus Arts of Tampa Bay”. We were not only training dancers, but now we were also training circus artists. It was a fairly logical sequence and it was very exciting.
To date, we have trained many beautiful dancers, aerialists and dancer/aerialists. We have built a performing troupe that gets hired out for corporate events, private parties, national fundraisers, etc. Some of our clients include: Tampa Bay Times Forum, Lokey Clearwater Mercedes-Benz, Curtis Hixon Park, Jannus Landing, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the United Way and the Children’s Heart Foundation.
We perform every Saturday and Sunday night at Casa Tina’s Mexican Restaurant in Downtown Dunedin.
As we always hear, “Oh, so that’s you guys!” Yes, that is us!
We're also very proud of our students who have gone onto professional performing careers and those that grew into wonderful adults with their own families now.
This is our story. This is how it all came about.
Please come visit us in our beautiful spacious facility. You, too, will want to twirl and dance. And maybe some of you will want to run away with the Circus!
Beth Brier/Artistic Director