Cristy Jensen’s Exeter City Dance honored as Business of the Year
Exeter City Dance’s Cristy Jensen helps the future of the town through dance
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
EXETER – Cristy Jensen had always been involved with dance, whether as a dancer or a dance instructor, but she never thought that having her own studio was a real option. While working as a nurse at Lindsay Hospital, it became clear to her dance needed to be a bigger part of her life. Soon after this revelation, she left her job, and started Exeter City Dance. Twenty-two years later, it is one of the top businesses in town and the winner of the 2017 Exeter Business of the Year award.
“This was a huge surprise to us,” Jensen said about winning the award. “If they think we deserve this award now, then we really need to show them we deserve it.”
The studio’s current location at 150 E. Palm St. is not where the story of Exeter City Dance began. Actually, the first location was not even meant to be a dance studio. Jensen and her husband, Spencer Jensen, rented out the Exeter Senior Center at City Park. Each day, they brought in planks of wood to have their dancers practice on.
No matter the location, the lessons have remained the same. Jensen is adamant about the team aspect which has its roots going back to when she was a little girl. Not into sports, she viewed her dance class as her team, and each practice she hoped not to let them down, even if it meant she had to try something new.
“We don’t always give them the choice that they don’t want to do it,” Jensen said.
Jensen admits stepping outside their comfort zone, even as young as ages three years old, is tough. However, she believes it is a necessity in life. Being part of a small town community with a lot of opportunities to offer, Jensen knows a student may change their mind about what they want to pursue. While she is perfectly fine with it, she does hope that her teachings on dedication, structure, and being a team player stick with them.
“If they do leave here, we want them to try something new and be brave, having the motivation to not give up,” Jensen said.
The studio has always been a focal point in the Exeter Fall Festival Parade and in many downtown activities. In recent years, it has added other volunteer outreaches. They have paired with local Girl Scout troops to put on their father-daughter dance. The outreach has a critical part in the lesson plan as well.
“We want them to learn that Cristy is not always going to be the person guiding them,” Jensen said.
Over the long haul, Jensen and Exeter City Dance have had a few hundred students come through their doors. Some stayed to excel at the art, while some left to pursue other activities. No matter how long they stayed, former students are now sending their children to Jensen.
“For them to trust me to bring me their little kids, they must have enjoyed their time here, and they must have learned something from us,” Jensen said.