Tell us about yourself (Who you are, what you do, and a favorite quote.)
My name is Doris Ann Shirk and I am a ballerina, dance teacher and dance studio owner. I have been dancing ever since I was seven years old. I’ve also been married almost 12 years to my loving and supportive husband Ryan Shirk and we have two boys Austin (8) and Cameron (7)
One of my favorite quotes is: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
What is your brand and what is its mission?
I started and own Doris Ann’s Dance Studio. It’s a Christian dance studio in Willow Street PA. Our mission statement is below.
We exist to teach dance in an uplifting and fun atmosphere. We dance to Christian worship inspirational music to bring God Glory, show how loving and powerful He is and to realize how fearfully and wonderfully God has made each of us.
It was my desire to create a place for girls to learn dance in a fun and relaxed atmosphere and also in a place where they can learn that God is the one who created our bodies to move, dance and worship Him. I wanted every student to not only learn dance with excellence but also to know that God made them with excellence and they are fearfully and wonderfully made by their creator; beautiful just the way they are.
What made you start your business and how does someone find you (social media, email, ect.?)
My two nieces had an interest in ballet back in March of 2020 so I started teaching them here and there whenever we were together.
Word spread to some of their other cousins and friends and I started teaching a group of 10 girls out of a friend’s basement in August 2020. Word continued to spread and I started teaching another group of girls out of another friend’s basement. After the class’s recitals and posting pictures on social media, word continued to spread and more and more people were interested.
I started looking for a place to lease to start my studio and signed my first lease in the spring of 2021. I had 90 students and two other teachers my first year 2021-2022 and have 117 students and four other teachers this year 2022-2023. God has really blown me away with how quickly my studio took off and how amazingly He has provided every step of the way.
How has your past led you to where you are today? (you can make this as detailed or brief as you want.)
I started dancing when I was 7 years old at the Lancaster Rec Center under the instruction of Miss. Eloise Dirk and instantly fell in love with it and was always dancing. I danced at church often, choreographed inspirational worship dances, did multiple competitions, was in The Nutcraker and danced at the Lancaster School of Ballet under the instruction of Victor Yelohin.
After High school I went on tour with a singing and dancing group The Continental singers as a singer, dancer and assistant director and toured across the US, New Zealand and Thailand. Ballet and dancing is a lovely sport but can be very tough on your body and mind.
Throughout my older dancing years I constantly felt like my body was never good enough and that I was too fat. I struggled with an eating disorder for a short time a couple years after high school and just never believed that my body was beautiful.
Through a lot of prayer, healing & meaningful relationships and meditating on scripture I finally came to believe Psalm 139: 14 to be true; That I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
What are the key takeaways that you’ve learned since starting your healing journey?
Although my first and long-time dance teacher Miss. Eloise Dirk was amazing at teaching me dance and never made me feel like my body wasn’t enough. Other instructors, conferences, peers and influences from the Ballet/dance world made me feel “less than” and “fat”. It took me a lot of years to know deep down that God made me wonderfully and I am never “less than” or “fat” to Him. Reading God’s word and choosing specific bible verses to meditate on instead of the lies I believed was and is the key to believing what God says about me. This is what has fueled me to have beautiful scripture paintings on the walls of my dance studio. Reading scripture, encouraging each other and praying for each other is the heartbeat of my studio.
What do you wish someone would have told you while you were healing?
I wish there were more dance teachers and instructors that told me that I was enough. I wish there wasn’t a “ballerina stereotype”. But that is where the mission of my studio came from; wanting to be a place where every student feels like they belong and feel like they are enough just the way they are.
What advice or steps would you recommend for someone who may be on the same journey as you , or what services are you offering?
Always seek out and believe what God says about you. Find His promises and truth He speaks over you in His word and let that lead and guide how you view and think about yourself. Encourage other people who are struggling in the same way you were/are.
In all of our dance classes we dance to Christian inspirational worship music, read God’s word and encourage our students. We also have adult ballet classes. All are welcome; young, old, new to dance or experienced.