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Unlocking the Hidden Potential

The PURE Dance Academy Journey
Author: The Drive Magazine
Photographer: Trevor Booth
1 month ago
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Story by: Dean Chasnoff

The quest for self-assurance becomes paramount in life’s challenges, where adversity lurks in unexpected corners. But where do we find the elusive elixir to fortify our spirits? Shall we steel ourselves against the world’s onslaught or fearfully retreat beneath the covers? The answer, surprisingly, lies in the rhythm of dance.

For sixteen years, PURE Dance Academy has nurtured the seeds of self-esteem and confidence in its students. Founded by Kent Willmore, Candice Willmore, and Margaret Ross in Chatham in 2008, the academy has since blossomed into a vibrant community across four locations, guided by a shared passion for dance and youth development.

“Our mission at PURE is to provide a safe haven for young minds to grow,” says Kent Willmore, one of five directors overseeing the academy’s expansion. “Here, amidst our dedicated team and supportive dance families, students find not just instruction but a sense of belonging.”

From its humble beginnings, PURE has flourished, spreading its wings to Wallaceburg in 2017, followed by Lakeshore in 2020, and now LaSalle, set to open its doors in the summer of 2024. This growth reflects a geographical reach and a commitment to reaching new hearts and minds across Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent. “We are thrilled to be expanding into LaSalle,” Corey says.  He continues, “I grew up and now live in LaSalle. I attended Sandwich West Public School and have always enjoyed this community! From a practical standpoint, PURE has sought to expand in a way that we can offer dance to new clients and families from different parts of Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent and the surrounding communities.”  

Central to PURE’s ethos is its diverse range of dance programs, catering to all ages and abilities. From Ballet to Hip-Hop, Jazz to Tap, Acro to Pointe, Lyrical to Musical Theatre and everything in between, the academy offers a tapestry of opportunities for artistic expression and personal growth. With a faculty of approximately thirty-five passionate instructors who are supported by a team of managers and administrative professionals, PURE fosters a culture of collaboration and innovation, constantly refining its offerings to meet the evolving the needs of its students and families. 

Yet, beyond the dance floor, PURE is a crucible for life skills and enduring friendships. As director Melissa Colman emphasizes, “We’re not just teaching dance; we’re shaping futures. We focus on instilling confidence, discipline, respect and resilience in our students, equipping them for success both on and offstage.

Indeed, PURE’s impact extends far beyond the studio walls. Through its multi-leveled competitive programming and community outreach initiatives, the academy cultivates a sense of camaraderie and social responsibility among its dancers. Whether performing at local schools, retirement homes, or community events, at PURE dancers learn the value of teamwork, empathy, and service. 

At PURE there truly is a perfect class, program, and friend waiting for any dancer at any level. Dancers choose their level of commitment from a recreational visit of 30-45 minutes a week to competitive training 12+ hours a week- “At that point, PURE becomes their second home and extended family,” Corey adds. “Dance friends are life-long friends. Melissa and I competed against each other growing up 30 years later here we are”. 

For parents like Kelly Winney, whose daughter Lucy is a student at PURE, the academy represents more than just a place of learning. “Since Lucy has been dancing, the staff here always notice what is working well for her, where her strengths are, and where she can improve. They really build on her strengths. The other thing I love about PURE is what it does for Lucy beyond dance. She has a close group of friends who know how to problem solve, who support each other, who show a lot of love for each other.”

Corey continues, “we are particularly proud of the fact that our dancers have the opportunity to grow and make mistakes in a safe space, we’re with them every step of the way. This allows our dancers to be well-prepared in life, whether it’s going into secondary school, post-secondary, or into the workforce. Confidence and strong self-esteem are part of the recipe for success no matter where you go in life.” 

PURE has had many graduates go on to have long careers in the industry after graduating from the academy.  Several dancers have worked on cruise ships, became Toronto Raptors or Los Angeles Lakers girls, actors in Stratford and even landing record deals. Many students also return to PURE after they have gone away to work professionally to become instructors at the academy. In fact, PURE has a Teacher Training program where kids as young as grade seven can apply to be assistant teachers, taking on extra tasks in the studio. 

One of the unsung heroes of PURE Dance Academy is co-founder and director Candice Willmore. “A huge part of our business involves fashion and costuming,” Kent explains. “Candice leads a team of exceptional individuals and looks after literally thousands upon thousands of costumes each year, ensuring the proper, appropriate fit so that students feel confident when performing. Costumes at our studio are not an afterthought, it is its own division,” Kent says. “Some parents have concerns about how appropriate the costumes will be on their child. We work so that everyone is happy. It’s a huge piece of what we do. Costumes underpin the performance onstage.”

As PURE prepares to embark on its next chapter with the opening of the LaSalle location, its founders’ legacy and its staff’s dedication continue to inspire. From costume design to teacher training, every aspect of the academy reflects a commitment to excellence and inclusivity.

So, as registration for PURE’s programs opens in May, aspiring dancers and their families are invited to join this extraordinary journey. Whether seeking a recreational pastime or a path to professional acclaim, PURE Dance Academy offers more than dance – it offers the keys to unlock a lifetime of potential. 

PURE would like to cordially invite you to its LaSalle Launch Party- Find Your Home! A free outdoor event full of family fun at 5841 Malden Square Plaza on Thursday, May 23rd from 4:00-7:00 p.m. For more information about PURE Dance Academy and registration details, visit www.pureacademy.ca and follow them on Instagram @puredanceacademy. 

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