On a recent Tuesday, Stephanie Reese told her Ballet 4 students to call their parents and tell them the class would be running 20 minutes late. Ballet 4 class ended, and the girls waited patiently as the Ballet 5 students filed into class.
Reese stood in front of all her students and said, "I have something to tell you." Then she started to cry.
By the end of her announcement, some of the girls were yelling and some were crying as the news sunk in that Reese was closing the doors of Steamboat Ballet, where many of them had been studying for five or six years. Reese is moving to Denver to take the next step in her dance career.
The students of Steamboat Ballet will perform one last time on May 26 and 27. When the curtain closes that Friday night, it will be closing on an era in the Steamboat dance world.
Steamboat Ballet has 150 students enrolled. In her time as the owner, Reese has choreographed and produced, "American Jubilee," "Spanish Nights" and "The Nutcracker."
Reese, who is a devout Christian, got the feeling that she was going to be leaving Steamboat about two years ago.
"God put it on my heart that he had bigger things for me," she said. Reese has been in Steamboat for 14 years and has owned the dance studio for six. "I love it here, but I never felt that this was where I was supposed to be.
"I got my feet wet here and was able to do things that I couldn't have done in a big city."
In February, Reese drove to Denver with her parents. They drove past several dance studios until Reese found the one that "felt like home," she said. The next day, she showed up at the door of the Metropolitan Academy of Dance and introduced herself. The owner was interested.
The owner, Georgia Bowdre, owns a condo in Steamboat and was willing to make the trip to watch one of Reese's classes.
"She hired me right away," Reese said.
Reese will teach classes at Steamboat Ballet until May 26 and plans to leave town for Denver at the end of June.
"The (Steamboat Ballet) studio supported itself, but it doesn't support me," Reese said. "I tried to make it work. I even worked at Starbuck's for a summer, but I don't have time for a second job."
The Metropolitan Academy of Dance where Reese will be teaching serves more than 500 students in three locations.