Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Copeland Mills School of the Arts Story


Former student and teacher returns with daughter to share gift of dance

by Kymberly Bach

Daughter and mother, Allison and Windy Queen

Daughter and mother, Allison and Windy Queen

Copeland Mills School of the Arts has a long history that includes not only dance, but turning students and staff into friends and family. The studio has been on Mount Pleasant Road for over 25 years under the ownership of Diane Copeland Adcock. Now Windy Queen, a former student and dance teacher there, has stepped up to take over the reins with her daughter Allison.

Windy had a challenging childhood. When she needed a place to feel safe, she found it at the Copeland Mills studio. “It saved me,” she shares. “One of my mentors, Debbie Copeland, empowered me as a woman to believe that I never had to settle for anything, that I had to fight for what I wanted, that there was always a means to the end, and that help was always available – just ask. For me, dance and the business of dance are extremely personal. The studio has always been a family to me.”

“For me, dance and the business of dance
 are extremely personal.
The studio has always been
 a family to me.”

—Windy Queen

Windy started teaching at Copeland Mills in the early 90s. Several moves because of her husband’s military career took her away from the area, but eventually, they came geographically closer when Windy’s husband was stationed in Washington D.C. for 11 years. There, Windy opened two dance schools, and made it a point to keep in touch with Diane. It was easy because they were members of the same chapter of Dance Masters of America (DMA), a certification organization that makes sure instructors teach students properly. DMA hosted different events throughout the year, and Diane and Windy saw each other frequently as they kept up with their certifications. Dance helped the women remain close though the miles and life’s obligations kept them apart. 

Then, Windy returned to Hampton Roads and she was fortunate enough to teach again at Copeland Mills. She also opened Dancing Little Stars, a mobile dance school, to teach dance in preschools and daycare centers. Windy explains, “Once I started my own business I wasn’t able to teach at Copeland Mills as much; however, my ties with Diane remained strong and we stayed connected.” Not even pregnancy or caring for an infant stopped her from supporting Diane and the dance school. On a Friday during recital season Windy’s daughter, Allison, was born; three days later she was happily resting in a playpen at the studio, where she would become as much a part of the school as her mom. 
In late October 2016, situations changed and laid the foundation for the transfer of ownership. Diane called Windy and told her she wanted to retire and sell the school, but not to just anyone. She wanted the legacy to continue and asked Windy to take over. At about the same time, Allison mentioned to her mom that she felt it was time for her to take a break from working in the medical field and come home. She’d moved away a few years earlier and now wanted to come back. The mother and daughter talked about running the dance school together, and it wasn’t long until they decided the timing was perfect. Currently, Allison oversees day-to- day operations at Copeland Mills as assistant director.   

Many of the staff members at Copeland Mills grew up dancing there and remained on staff after Windy purchased the studio; after all, they are family, too. All of the instructors are either certified by the DMA or have graduated from college with a degree in dance. Windy is a Governor’s School of the Arts dance graduate and a children’s dance specialist, focusing on kinesiology, the study of how muscles move and develop. This specialty makes her an expert at preventing overextension or damage to muscles as dance students progress in their education. She has spent the last 10 years lecturing nationwide about kinesiology and building children’s dance programs for other chapters of the DMA.

Class size is limited to give each student individualized attention

Class size is limited to give each student individualized attention

As an all inclusive dance studio, many different styles of dance are taught at Copeland Mills. “We offer everything here: ballet, tap, jazz, point, lyrical, contemporary, Polynesian, and hip hop,” Windy says. “Our focus is on education to make sure that the foundations and basics are in place so the kids can expand on them as they grow. It is also very important to me that artistry in dance is taught; I want to preserve that artistic feeling and not focus as much on the competitive nature of dance.”

 Windy continues, “I am a huge believer that dance is a gift we are given. Not everyone has a body that enables them to dance. If someone is gifted with that kind of body and with parents who can support that gift financially and emotionally, they should share it. Dance is an act of service and is a way to give back, sharing our gifts with the community.”

Windy describes how Dance Magic, their performance company, performs  all over the community to share their gifts with others. “They recently performed in a program called ‘Surfers Healing,’a surfing clinic for children who have autism and special needs. Kids from all over the country come to take part in it. Next month, Dance Magic will perform at a local retirement home.” 

“I feel like I’m a big sister to them,
and I’m so glad I’m home!”

—Allison Queen

In addition to dance lessons, the studio offers music lessons for guitar, piano, drums and voice.  “We are now registering for the fall season that starts September 5. We have not increased the number of classes on the schedule because we want to maintain the integrity of what Copeland Mills has always been here in this area. However, we have revamped the children’s program rather dramatically with a new curriculum,” Windy says.

 As assistant director, daughter Allison likes to offer individualized attention to students. “One of our changes is how we group ages together. We find the more we break down classes by age, the better we are able to focus on the different developmental, social, and emotional needs of each student. We group three and four year olds together, and five and six year olds together, and we really strive to keep class sizes small. This lets us get to know the children better. We want to know what our students like and don’t like, about their family, and their birthdays. We really want to know them as people. Over the years, we’ve attended many of their games, pageants, and other events, and we like to be involved. I feel like I’m a big sister to them, and I’m so glad I’m home!” Allison says smiling.

Windy agrees wholeheartedly. “I want our students to come away feeling like they can do anything they want to do. It’s my way to give back, and we’re both so glad to be home!”          

Copeland Mills School of the Arts

1457 Mount Pleasant
Chesapeake, VA 23322