Shauna Smartt-Hopkins has always had dancing on her mind. She said she would do what she loved for a living and here she is twenty years later, still living out her greatest passion – dance! Shauna is the owner and director at Hendersonville dance studio, Smartt Steps. She feels it is so important to give back to the next generation and teach this art form that her mentor Jody Corley gave to her.
“I was trained from the best and learned early on, dance was so much more than just ‘dance steps,’” says Shauna. “It has truly changed, and in a lot of ways, saved my life. Dance teaches discipline, dedication, hard work, self-confidence and grace. All these things have helped mold me into the person I am today and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Shauna knew early on that she wanted to continue what Jody started. “I remember I started student teaching in high school and got certified through Jody’s program and became a teacher my junior year. I absolutely fell in love with teaching.” Shauna also started getting more professional jobs in high school and found out that she had a huge love for the stage and that performance world as well. The summer after Shauna graduated high school Corley took her to Chicago where she took intensive tests and got another certification through Chicago National Association of Dance Masters.
She continued her dance training at the University of Memphis, graduating Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre and Dance. Shauna was a four-year member of their touring dance company and was the only freshman to receive the prestigious Hohenberg Scholarship, awarded to the student who showed the most potential as a professional dancer.
Since graduating college, she has performed in industrial shows, choreographed live stage shows and in music videos, even working with Garth Brooks. Her dance training did not stop there, she also has a strong theatrical background and has choreographed for both community and professional theaters.
Locally, Shauna has taught for Volunteer State Community College, as well as advanced classes for Columbia State’s Commercial Entertainment program. Continuing that dancing to a local beat, she currently teaches dance teams for T.W. Hunter, Hendersonville High School, Gallatin High School and Pope John Paul II High School. Shauna believes in training a dancer to be versatile so that they can have a dance career in whatever venue they choose. It is this amazing training they receive from Shauna and her staff that have her dancers in Broadway shows, as Rockettes, NFL cheerleaders, college companies and dance teams, professional dance companies.
At Smartt Steps, Shauna says, “We are more than just a dance studio, we are truly family.” A family stands together through the good and the bad, and Smartt Steps indeed suffered a huge loss together when pre-school director and Shauna’s youngest sister, Ashley Smartt passed away Easter Sunday 2015. “I knew when I lost my sister that I could never do this without her, and I don’t. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t feel her beautiful spirit dancing beside us every step of the way. We will forever sport our Team Ash and Fight Like A Dancer attire, and we will forever dance for Ashley.”
Shauna is so proud of the talented staff that make up Smartt Steps. Her middle Smartt sister, Andrea Nutter, is the studio’s Ballet Director and Assistant Director. “We are always known for our technique, and I contribute our strong emphasis in our ballet training for that,” says Shauna. “I may be a little biased but we have the best ballet instructor around.”
Smartt Steps Dance Studio provides dancers of all ages an encouraging environment where they are given the opportunity to grow and excel in their dance education. There are numerous hard-working instructors devoted to providing the best training to their dancers. With an array of classes available, you will find any class your child would like to be part of. Classes available include ballet, tap, tumbling, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, musical theatre, contemporary and even extra technique classes for those dancers that want to strengthen their abilities. Come see why they are voted Sumner County’s Best Dance Studio year after year and see for yourselves what all the Smartt Steps hype is truly all about.