LibertyMe Dance Studio in Bryn Mawr Teaches Dance Technique and Charity for Kids
Part dance studio and part charitable organization, LibertyMe donates all proceeds from its children's dance classes to the charity of its students' choosing.
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At LibertyMe Dance Center, there’s an oversized “One Way” sign that directs students into the studio. Its more subtle implication: Go hard, or go home.
Indeed, there’s no mistaking the motivational message at this unique Bryn Mawr institution—or the philanthropic one, for that matter. From a live feed on a flat-screen TV in the lobby, parents can watch their kids without really watching them. “A lot of students shut down when they know their parents are watching,” says instructor Sam Bootel, who is also LibertyMe’s manager.
They use lots of glass cleaner around here—what, with all the mirrors and little fingers. “There’s a lot of energy and artistic creativity in our kids,” Bootel says. “They’re extremely healthy.”
Meanwhile, the center is helping make others healthy through its corresponding LibertyMe Foundation, which serves communities in need, leaving a significant imprint in the two years it’s been around. “It’s what we showcase,” Bootel says. “Art can save lives.”
At LibertyMe, kids learn ballet, hip-hop, jazz—and about giving back. Each season, all the money made from evening dance classes goes directly to charities chosen by the young students. All revenue from daytime adult classes and private lessons benefits the instructors.
LibertyMe’s mission is all about creating a sense of community—a feeling that each individual belongs to a core group of unique, diverse artists who share similar passions. To that end, it’s unlike any other performing-arts center in the region, in that every child has a say.
The seed for LibertyMe was planted by Meegan Rubin and her ex-husband, Michael. The founder and CEO of King of Prussia-based GSI Commerce, he established a trust for the foundation that covers operational costs.
The center’s creative director, Rubin started her dance career at age 5. After 13 years of training, she was accepted at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and then went on to continue her studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
The turning point in her career came when she joined Philly’s Koresh Dance Company in 1996. Serving as her mentor, Ronen Koresh helped Rubin harness her talent and work ethic. Since then, she’s won many awards for her choreography.
Also a certified Pilates instructor, Rubin started her first studio after running a popular hip-hop class at another local center. “It took off,” says Bootel, one of several other LibertyMe teachers who were students at Rubin’s Huntingdon Valley studio prior to LibertyMe.
Right now, there are 300 students at LibertyMe, despite any real marketing or advertising campaign. The success has come mostly through word of mouth and the support of parent ambassadors. Once a workout gym, the place retains its black, white and gray color scheme. There are two studios. In one, curtains create a theater atmosphere. “Close the curtains and cue the overhead lights,” says Rubin.