CHATHAM — Eleven months after a fire burned through the Auburn Gresham dance studio for MBM Dance Company, founder Barbie Jones celebrated the grand opening of their replacement spot in glamorous fashion.
Jones and her squad gathered with friends, family and supporters Saturday as they cut the ribbon adorning their new studio, 8248 S. Cottage Grove Ave. in the heart of Chatham. It took months for the South Side native to transform the storefront, which had been occupied by The Obituary Service for over a decade, into a studio with enough room to welcome the community.
“Today means so much. My kids haven’t had a stable place to practice, but they’ve managed to stay together throughout the year, even with all the trials and tribulations,” Jones said. “After we cut the ribbon, they ran in, happy and screaming. We did it. We’re here.”
MBM Dance Company was among several residents, businesses and organizations displaced by the May fire, which destroyed the building. The squad’s trophies, team uniforms and banners were lost in the blaze.
The dance troupe found themselves practicing in parks, abandoned school lots and a t-shirt store as their leader searched for a new home. With help from the community, Jones was able cover the purchase of the building and pay for renovations. The studio is 1,200 square feet and has an office and a laundry room.
The studio will also serve as a second home to MBM’s sister team, Phenomenal Dance Company, when the members come from Wisconsin to visit.
“This means a lot because it’s been hard. We were traveling from space to space, and we lost kids because we didn’t have a solid place to practice,” said team President Diante Joyner. “It feels good. We’re back in the game.”
While Jones and her team consider themselves fortunate, another competition in Texas is around the corner and they’re still scrambling to cover the cost of uniforms and transportation to the event. The online fundraiser they created last year has netted less than half of its $25,000 goal. Jones hopes the community will pitch in one more time.
“If we don’t get the uniforms, we can’t go. We’ll have to sit it out. But as far as the studio goes, this is a huge first step,” Jones said. “I’m so excited.”
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