DancEast (formerly Studio 1406) was founded by Emily Masters in August of 2008. Emily grew up participating in traditional dance recitals and even danced competitively, but she wanted something different for her children. She wanted to create a place where girls, boys and adults are encouraged to move and dance freely—without the limitations imposed by simply learning a recital piece or even the structure of a classical ballet curriculum. So – she rented a room and got to work!
When Emily met Whitley Hill—an impeccably trained dancer with years of professional experience—she knew she had met the perfect person to help her fulfill her vision. With Whitley on board to instruct, Emily began the process of creating not just a dance school, but A Center for Movement and Creativity. She signed the lease on a small studio in Riverside Village in the Inglewood neighborhood (at 1406 McGavock Pike – hence the name “Studio 1406”) and opened that space in January of 2009.
When Studio 1406 was voted “Best Place to Learn to Dance” in the 2009 Nashville Scene Reader’s Poll—after less than one year of being open for business—the women knew the community was just as excited about their vision as they were. In the summer of 2010 Studio 1406 joined forces with Hooprama in a shared studio space on Gallatin Avenue. Studio 1406 was renamed "DancEast" in March of 2011, in order to more completely reflect the unique neighborhood that is home to the studio. During the Summer of 2011, Hooprama decided to move on, so DancEast took over the lease at 521 Gallatin Avenue, and the studio grew and flourished in that space.
In December of 2011, Lauren Melancon, who had already been teaching DancEast students for quite some time, became Emily's business partner. Lauren shares the passion Emily and Whitley have for offering unique dance experiences to their students, and she proved an exciting addition to the ownership of DancEast!
On May 31, 2013 DancEast made a very exciting move—to a brand new space in the newly renovated EastSide Station on Woodland Street in East Nashville. With 2 studios, a music instruction room, dressing room, much-needed office space and so much more, DancEast found a home that fits the vision that defines "DancEast!" Sadly, Lauren left Nashville in 2014, following a job opportunity for her husband, and Emily continued as a solo owner for the next four years, growing studio enrollment by nearly 100 dancers each of those years!
On May 31, 2018, after nearly ten years as Founder, Owner, Manager and Artistic Director of DancEast (including evolution from "Dancing with Emily" to "Studio 1406" to "DancEast"), Emily sold the business to Amy Wiley. For the 15 years prior to purchasing DancEast, Amy enjoyed a fulfilling career in social work, working with families and as a community mental health clinician for children and youth. She brought her love for working with families (and particularly children) as well as a passion for dance and the arts to DancEast.
Amy now runs DancEast with the same mission that has always been the essence of the studio: to provide opportunities for movement and creativity in a unique and inspiring environment.