Tutus and teaching

Dave Schwab

Wed January 8, 2014 2:44pm

The best time to introduce youth to music and dance is as soon as possible.
“We teach children from 18 months to 18 years,” said Neisha Hernandez, owner of Neisha’s Dance & Music Academy at 870 Jetty Lane in Eastlake. “Early-on is when they’re uninhibited. They almost have a love of dance or music built in. They’re little sponges who learn at a very fast rate at a young age, especially music. It’s amazing.”
Neisha’s state-of-the-art facility is located in Eastlake’s Venture Commerce Center. Spanning more than 10,000 square feet on two floors, the facility consists of five dance studios, four music rooms and an in-house theatrical stage.
“There’s lots of dance and music schools, but we have both, and we have themed classrooms,” said Hernandez, noting “our hip-hop classroom has graffiti and the musical theater classroom has stars all over the walls and the toddler girl’s classroom has pink paint with castles, chandeliers and very sparkly crystals that make it fun. One of our biggest unique selling points is we have a one-way observation window so parents can observe classes without disturbing students.”
Parents can also view their little dancers through live-feed flat-screen LCD monitors in the comfort of lounge seating located in Neisha’s spacious lobby.
“We have cameras in every classroom so everything’s recorded all the time,” noted Hernandez.
Pointing out her academy accommodates students more interested in music and dance recreationally, as well as those with a more serious career-minded bent, Hernandez said “enrichment” is what Neisha’s is all about.
“It’s been my honor for the past 18 years to bring the arts to the children in our community,” said Hernandez, a Chula Vista Rotarian who practices the service club’s motto of “service above self” in her daily life.
Always interested in music and dance as far back as she can remember, Hernandez said it was a “natural progression” for her to take up both in college and thereafter in her career.
“I was either going to become a touring artist or open up a school,” she said. “Opening a school was really more where my heart was. When I first opened up my school, it was a time when Chula Vista was just exploding eastward and there were no activities for children. It really was the perfect match for the community and for myself.”
With a staff of about 30, Neisha’s accommodates about 1,000 students mostly from Chula Vista and environs. Hernandez said Neisha’s dance classes are a mixture of ballet, tap, tumbling, jazz, contemporary and hip-hop.
“Once they (students) get to be more advanced, they usually choose to focus on ballet or competition dance and study that one style every day,” Hernandez said.
Music is taught at the academy in one-on-one sessions and group lessons with students supplying their own instruments.
“It’s any instrument, but the favorite ones most requested are piano, voice and guitar,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said she’s proud that her music and dance academy “enriches beyond what you can measure.”
“It’s not just physical, getting your body in good condition,” she said. “It’s spiritual, raising healthy kids.”
For more information visit www.neishas.com.