In the past year, the dance company has grown from 80 students to 140 as they moved into a new home nearly doubling their building space. A step of faith was taken last year to purchase land and build their new studio expanding from 3,800 square feet to 6,000 square feet.
"We started the studio back in 1997 just as a small ministry. I was just going to do it on the side and obviously God had other plans," said Founder and Director Julie Reeves, adding that Steps of Faith began in a gym before moving to a church basement and on to other locations. "We've actually been in our past location off of Center Road for eight years and over that time we just really outgrew it and then we plateaued. ... We've always felt we've had something special here with the ministry and the dance instruction and so we wanted to minister to more people and to be able to serve more people so we really felt like we needed to start looking for something bigger."
Now located at 65 Walnut Grove Road, Steps of Faith has seen tremendous growth in times of economic crisis which Reeves attributes to talented instructors, hard working students and above all -- God.
"We just contribute it to God, it's one of those things. It doesn't just take wonderful instruction, it also takes hard working kids and we've got some really hard workers," Reeves said. "We've got girls who are competitively auditioning for spots, very limited spots, in those programs. ... That's the kind of caliber students that are here."
Students from Steps of Faith have been able to obtain scholarships and acceptance to colleges and intensive dance schools across the country. Of those students going on to college with pursuits in dance are Kim Lloyd's three daughters: Emily, Abigail and Caroline. Emily and Abigail have both excelled in their dancing pursuits beyond high school years as Caroline, a high school senior, prepares for 15 college auditions this academic year.
"All of my daughters have been here for one time or another for extended periods," Lloyd said, adding that the experience has contributed to their success. "All three of the girls ... I've heard them talk extensively about why Steps of Faith is a much better dance studio selection than a lot of typical dance studios because they combine the technical aspects with the emotional performance aspects. You've got to have a reason to dance and you've got to have a passion for it and an emotion to convey. ... The faith aspect provides the perfect medium for expressing yourself."
The faith incorporated into their business model is fundamental to the ministry Steps of Faith hopes to achieve. Teachers strive to not only impart technical knowledge but spiritual wisdom as well.
"We want to be a ministry as far as reaching people where they are and loving on them where they are and not just teaching dance and excellence in dance," Reeves said. "But what I think is more important is the loving and nurturing atmosphere that we give and as part of our ministry we want to love on and nurture these kids. And at the same time we want to teach them about the Lord and about serving Him with our dance."
Performances throughout the year showcase the studio's talent and ministry, but the year's largest production will soon portray the birth of Jesus Christ through dance. The Nativity will be performed at The Grand Theatre on Dec. 18 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Dec. 19 at 3 p.m.
To clarify the message and update the story, some aspects of the performance are tweaked annually including the addition of a partygoer finding the true meaning of Christmas. The core value of the story however, remains the same.
"It's not about presents, it's about Jesus' birth, who is the best gift. What I like about The Nativity is that anyone and everyone can come to this show. We have people from all over the region coming to these shows and we've had kids accept Jesus at these shows, it's that big a deal. There's so many ways to teach people the gospel and this is just one of those different ways," Reeves said.
A current student at Steps of Faith, Camille Jones, reflected on the spiritual aspects of the studio which drew her to their program. She added that with goals of continuing in dance for ministry purposes, Steps of Faith was a great fit for her.
"When I tried Steps of Faith, I really just loved it and it's just such a good environment to be in. That's what really drew me there," Jones said. "The teachers are great and all the girls are really great and everyone is so supportive of each other. You can really just feel the love and God's love there.
"The Christian aspect of it was really important to me because I'd never been to a Christian ballet school until Steps of Faith. ... It's not so much of a competition, everyone's a lot more supportive and when someone does something good, everyone's happy."
For more information, Steps of Faith will hold an open house at their new facility on Jan. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information may also be obtained by calling 770-606-0506 or by visiting www.steps-of-faith.com.