Dance coach follows in mom’s footsteps

Dance is at the center of Stephanie Shaw’s world. The Purrfections dance team’s assistant coach began dancing at 2 years old, following the example of her mother, April Shaw, who did the same.

“I started off at Broadway Bound and then danced at Dance Mania when I was 15,” Shaw said. “I danced at both studios and danced on the [school] dance team starting in seventh grade. By my sophomore year, I was on three different teams and would start off at one studio, drive to a basketball game, perform, then drive to the next team … all while being a student at West Shore.”

Shaw’s sisters Mattie and Jessie and also danced for the Purrfections.

“My sisters were and still are incredible athletes,” Shaw said. “It is something that we can all bond over and share … The Shaw girls made a name for themselves at West Shore.”

Shaw credits her mother, who is the head coach of the Purrfections, for her dance career.

“She [April] truly is my inspiration and who I strive to be in life,” Shaw said. “She always takes me to the extra dance classes [and] paid for me to dance competitively so I could potentially dance in college. She did everything she could to support my dreams, and one day I hope to be as amazing as she is.”

Shaw and her mother joined the dance team when Stephanie was in seventh grade in 2007.

“Working alongside my mom is awesome,” Shaw said. “While we may not always see eye to eye on things, we are a great team. We complement each other very well.”

The partnership between Shaw and her mother has had a positive impact on the dancers.

“Having two coaches is nice because you are able to get two different views on the same thing, and sometimes having two opinions is nice,” Elizabeth Beattie, JV dancer, said. “And when someone says it in a different way, it might stick.”

Shaw also gave insight on one of the little-known experiences that her mother went through, and how she kept striving to participate in coaching.

“Last year she was diagnosed with colon cancer,” Shaw said. “And boy it did not slow her down. She was at every practice, every competition and every game. Chemo didn’t stop her one bit. Most people had no idea she was even sick, and that’s how she wanted it.”

Stephanie plans to continue coaching the Purrfections after her mom retires.

“In the fall I hope to return back to school to obtain my master’s degree,” Shaw said. “When I am finished with my degree, my mom plans on stepping down and giving the team to me.”

By Roxy Underwood