At Bethany Ann Hellen Studios, we will always be committed to the well-being of the students first and foremost. No award, trophy, placement, title, attention, “likes” or popularity is worth jeopardizing the protection of the dancers.
Though we abide by this philosophy and put it into action in all our classes at the studio, we decided to take an active stance by getting certified in the Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (www.ypad4change.org). BAHS is currently the only YPAD certified studio in the Upper Peninsula & second studio in all of Michigan.
We are strongly convicted in putting the dancers’ physical, emotional and sexual safety first by always trying to use age-appropriate costumes and choreography and avoidance in using music with inappropriate content & references to drug use, sexual connotations, violence, explicit language, etc.
Dance should assist a child with their self-confidence & worth and we need to ask ourselves what our movements, music and costume choices are saying to the audience about the way we value ourselves and others. In the end, the dancer should always be put before the dance.
(To learn more about our certification, click on any of the certificates, our YPAD badge at the top of the page or see our updates/news section.)
"Miss Bethany" Basso:
Owner; hip-hop 1-4, tap 1-4 & intro TO dANCE instructor
Certified Youth Protection Advocates In Dance Educator
Certified Rhythm Works Integrative Dance Instructor
"I took my very first tap class around the age of 13, but if you read the lofty 3 pages my mom wrote in my baby book or watch any of our home videos, you'll find I was always trying to entertain, even in diapers. After taking that year in tap, I caught the 'dance-bug'. I continued with tap, but also added jazz, ballet (my students never believe me when I tell them I once sported a tutu), competition line & technique classes to my dance repertoire. After years of doing this, I ended up dropping out of dance cold-turkey to play high school soccer.
I graduated high school, started college, bought a house, became a mom- but I always had this nagging, almost guilty, feeling that I wasn't dancing. I finally decided to leap back into it (dance pun!) I contacted a studio in town to start assisting a tap class, with hopes to teach in the future. It was scary- jumping back into it and trying to remember things from so long ago- but after a couple classes, it started to flood back into my memory. I also enrolled in a hip hop class which clicked with me instantly & just felt like a natural thing for me to be doing. Once again, I caught that 'dance-bug' and started taking any classes, workshops & online material I could. I taught tap and hip hop classes for the next 4 years.
Which brings me to...
The Creation of "BAHS":
There came a point when I realized I wanted to do more than just teach dance classes. I wanted to create an environment where the focus was on fun, building confidence, being yourself (and so much more) while learning to dance. The idea of starting a business seemed an impossibility at first, but I decided to just get the ball rolling... which ended up rolling pretty fast. In the matter of a little more than 2 months, I consulted an accountant & created 'Bethany Ann Hellen Studios, Inc.', found and remodeled a building (complete with blood, sweat and tears), advertised as much as possible and crossed my fingers that I would get a few students to start this adventure with me. (It all sounds so simple packed into one run-on sentence!) I was shocked & overjoyed when over 50 students signed up for our first year.
After 3 years, we moved into our current studio in Ironwood and we are now going into our 9th season! Together, we've created way more than a business- we've created a family. It's so exciting to get to share my love of dance with so many people and to watch them grow- physically, emotionally and technically- through the years. I'm looking forward to continuing this journey with all of you!
P.S. Though I learn the most just from teaching my students, rest-assured, I always continue to further my own dance education in any way possible (classes, workshops, certifications, etc.) so I can offer students the most up to date technique that I am able to teach. Teachers should never stop being students themselves!"
"Miss Monica" Zak:
Jazz 3 & 4 instructor
Certified Youth Protection Advocates In Dance Educator
Miss Monica has over 20 years of dance experience, including trainings in Marquette, MI, Green Bay, WI & Sault Ste Marie, MI. Miss Monica has background in ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, modern & tap, with ballet & jazz being dear to her heart! She has been instructing ballet at BAHS since she moved back to the Ironwood area in 2014, and has also taken on jazz & contemporary classes as the studio has continued to grow.
“Being able to share my love of dance with the students at BAHS has been such a wonderful thing for me. There’s nothing more rewarding than watching the dancers grow in their ability and confidence every year, and I’m so proud to be apart of the dance family here at BAHS.”
"Miss Christina" Lavinder:
Jazz 2, Ballet/pRE-pointe 3, bALLET/pOINTE 4 & Lyrical 4 instructor
Miss Christina is new to the BAHS family this year. She has 15 years of dance experience and background in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip-hop, and pointe. The majority of her training is in ballet which has been her favorite dance genre since she started at 5 years old.
“Dance, to me, has a lot to teach people and it's helped create the person I am today; I am more creative and more confident because of it."
Aside from dance, Miss Christina is going to school to become a teacher and has 8+ years of experience working with kids.
“I love working with kids because I usually learn as much from them as they do from me. And like dance, getting the opportunity to work with them and share an art that I love is something I'm passionate about. I am excited to be a part of the BAHS family and am looking forward to dancing with everyone!"
"Miss Makayla" Switzer:
Ballet 2 instructor
Miss Makayla has been a BAHS student for years and has experience in ballet and hip hop. She assisted in teaching a class last season and recently graduated high school. This season, she is going to be joining our teaching team.
"I've been dancing for about 7 years and it's always had a huge spot in my heart. I'm looking forward to having a great season. Dancing with the 'littles' is always fun to me and I hope to make an impact on them."
"Miss Tiffany" Houle:
Ballet 1, Jazz 1 & Lyrical 3 instructor
Miss Tiffany is also new to the BAHS family this year and will be teaching ballet, jazz and lyrical classes.
"Dance has always been a part of life. I first learned styles from my native American culture. I wanted to learn more types of dance so I joined a dance school in Ashland. There I took ballet, jazz and lyrical. I've found that dance brings so much joy and also healing, and I hope to bring that to others in my teaching. I'm very excited to be teaching at BAHS this year and I look forward to expressing my love for dance and seeing others expand theirs."