June 29, 2013

Parents pitch in to support Roseville-area dance studio's move

Hours before Friday's recital, there was a flurry of activity around Lucy McLemore's Dance Gallery 2 – just not the kind of activity one would expect.

Hours before Friday's recital, there was a flurry of activity around Lucy McLemore's Dance Gallery 2 – just not the kind of activity one would expect.

A dozen hard-hat-wearing construction workers endured the summer heat as they worked on Baseline Road near the Roseville city limit, paving a turn lane and a short asphalt drive to McLemore's home and the freshly built studio on her rural, 20-acre property.

The $100,000 turn lane is one of a list of conditions McLemore has to meet before Placer County will allow her to begin using the new studio, which sits just 100 feet from the studio she's run from her home for the last 22 years.

The news that she couldn't move her dance studio operation from its current legally permitted location – a converted three-car garage – to the new site she and her husband had built for $200,000 was a bit of a shock.

"We thought moving over the 100 feet wouldn't be a big deal," McLemore said.

When construction began, she thought her existing exemption to zoning rules would apply to the new building. It wasn't until the studio was nearly complete, she said, that she learned a new exemption would be required for the larger structure.

Attaining that exemption means meeting minimum health and safety requirements, say county officials. Among the requirements: a commercial septic tank, a commercial well, a fire hydrant, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant parking, and 10,000 gallons of water storage.

McLemore said she doesn't have a beef with the county or the requirements, just the cost of making the changes.

"The same rules that apply to Wal-Mart and Target apply to us," she said. "My husband works for the state and I run a little dance studio."

Friday, long strands of spider webs hung from the new studio's 14-foot ceilings and the uninstalled hardwood floor sat neatly stacked in shrink wrap.

McLemore said she and her husband still need to raise $50,000 to complete the work.

At first, McLemore said, she felt like it was her problem to solve, but she eventually relented and shared the burden with the community of 300 families whose children take lessons at the studio. The parents leaped into action.

The result has been "Pave the Way" fundraisers. Friday's recital, hosted by radio personality Mike Allen of KNTY, 101.9 FM, is part of the parent-led campaign.

McLemore, who also produces shows for Disney, said the studio's shows are Las Vegas-caliber.

The show will go on again tonight with 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances at Mesa Verde Performing Arts Center, 7600 Lauppe Lane, Citrus Heights. Tickets are $15.

McLemore – affectionately called Miss Lucy by her students – has been teaching dance most of her life after her one-time baby-sitting operation morphed into a dance studio.

The Minnesota native trained and danced around the country, before a win on Deney Terrio's "Dance Fever" television show led to a cruise line gig and many more opportunities.

She returned to teaching after the birth of her son.

McLemore, who was a single mother when she started the studio, said teaching out of her home was a good way to make a living while staying close to her son, who has autism.

After two decades of teaching and mentoring some of the area's rising stars of dance, she decided she wanted a little more distance between her personal and professional lives.

She said the goal was to hold onto the family feeling offered by her studio on the bucolic ranch. The response from the community has warmed her heart, she said.

"I've never felt community like I've felt right here," she said. "I know I'm doing the right thing."

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @newsfletch.

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