After operating the Regency Dance Academy for the past 30 years, Tracy Crouch is going to partially hang up her dancing shoes come July 1.
She's selling the business in the Quioccasin Station Shopping Center in western Henrico County to Ashley Valo-Horrigan, who has been an instructor at the school for the past seven years. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
But Crouch, who turns 62 next month, isn't going anywhere. She will continue to teach dance classes three days a week and serve as a mentor to Valo-Horrigan.
"I just won't have to work seven days a week as I have done for the last 30 years," Crouch said. "I am very happy for her [Valo-Horrigan] but sad yet happy for me because it has been my entire life. I want to pass it on to someone who is young enough to keep carrying it on for another 30 years."
Valo-Horrigan, who danced professionally for seven years, said she has a lot to learn about running the academy. "I don’t think I would be able to do this without her mentorship," she said.
Crouch said that Valo-Horrigan approached her about a year ago about buying the business if she was ever interested in selling it. "That resonated with me. I just never wanted to sell my business to just anybody."
Crouch made the announcement during the academy's 30th anniversary show earlier this month.
Regency Dance Academy opened in September 1989 with 300 students and three teachers during that first program year. Since then, the student body and faculty has doubled in size.
The academy offers about 50 classes weekly in tap, ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary and hip hop in different skill levels. Students range from from age 3 to 85.
Valo-Horrigan plans some changes under her ownership including some upgrades to the studio space, sell more apparel there and offer more acrobatic programing.
She also wants to start offering classes in just one subject area, such as tap, ballet or jazz, to students ages 4 to 7 rather than the current structure of having a class offering two subjects. "I think there are a lot of students who are not interested in two things in one class," she said
Valo-Horrigan said she will continue teaching classes. She taught about 12 classes this past season. "I'm not cutting back. This is my passion and my life's sanity," she said.