Dimensions Dance Center helps young dancers find their place in the spotlight

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When Tania Long was in college and dreaming of a career in dance, a teacher told her: “Ballet doesn’t look good on Black girls.”

That broke Long’s heart, but not her spirit. And with every class of young tap dancers, jazz students and ballerinas who come through Dimensions Dance Center, the school she founded in 2016, Long is proving her naysayers wrong.


When 6-year-old Ava Davis-Griffith rhythmically bends and straightens her knees in a perfect plié, and when Aubrey Bailey, 6, finds her balance, stands on one foot and executes a passe without so much as a wobble, Long knows she’s found her calling.

“Every child I meet,” she said, “I feel like I’m in their life for a reason.”


Dimensions welcomes students of all races and backgrounds, but Long, 35, of Aberdeen, said it’s extra-important for young dancers of color to have an adult instructor they can identify with.

“I am proud to be a representation for girls that look like me,” she said.

“As a young dancer, I would often be the only student of color in my class. A lot has changed since then. Now these girls can find tights that are in their skin color, point shoes that are their skin color. But sometimes students still come up to me all excited and say, ‘Oh, your hair is just like mine.’”

Tania Long is the owner of Dimensions Dance Center, a dance studio for kids in Abingdon.

Long grew up in Baltimore and began dancing at age 3.

“I loved being on stage,” she said. “I felt like I became another person. I was more carefree.”

She danced off and on through college. Though Long didn’t realize it at the time, every obstacle thrown in her path, every dismissive comment from an instructor, helped her become the teacher she is today.

“I don’t tell my dancers what they cannot do, and my dancers are not allowed to tell me that they cannot do something,” she said. “I teach them to say, ‘Miss Tania, I’m having trouble with this,’ or ‘Miss Tania, I need your help.’”

After graduating from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in dance, Long married her high school sweetheart. For the next six years, she was a stay-at-home mom. The couple’s daughter is now 11, and she and her husband also are the parents of a 1-year-old son.


During her stay-at-home years, Long taught dance part time. But she began to dream of owning her own studio so she could teach dance the way she thought it should be taught, an ambition she kept tucked away in the back of her mind.

“One day, a lovely lady told me, ‘As long as you are part of someone else’s dreams, you’ll never have dreams of your own,’ ” Long said.

In 2014 she enrolled in an online business school through Northcentral University in Scottsdale, Arizona. Two years later, she had a master’s degree in business administration — and her own, 1,200-square-foot studio in Abingdon.

Now, she has four part-time instructors who teach ballet, jazz, tap, acrobatics, hip-hop and modern dance to children ages 2 to 14. Tuition starts at $60 a month for one class per week, and goes up to $425.

Dimensions also offers a seven-week summer camp that combines dance instruction with field trips, from swimming to bowling to movie nights, at a cost of $165 a week.

“My goal isn’t just to prepare my students for the dance world,” Long said. “It’s to give them the tools they need to become great human beings. Maybe they’ll grow up to be nurses or teachers or bakers.


“I’m just a small part of their lives, but I hope to make a big impact.”

Tania Long, owner of Dimensions Dance Center, leads the Mighty Minis class through basic ballet positions.

Dimensions Dance Center

3709 Pulaski Hwy # 5, Abingdon. 443-515-7130.