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Beth Kendrick retiring after 40 years of teaching dance

Mar 06, 2020 11:56AM

Beth Kendrick has plenty to be proud of by teaching her students dancing and life lessons for four decades. Belmont Parks and Rec. photo (See more photos on Page 9 of March 5, 2020 issue)

By Alan Hodge

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Beth Kendrick  is retiring after four decades of sharing the joy of dance with Belmont Parks and Rec. students.

Her motto?

“At the age of four I wanted no more than to dance my life away. My dream came true, and my wish for you, is a life fulfilled each day.”

A native of Danville, Virginia, Kendrick, whose students have been known to call her “Betherina”, may have been teaching dancing for a long time, but her love of  the art goes all the way back to her own childhood. Her first lessons began when she was just six years old in Danville. She continued taking ballet, tap, and jazz lessons there at the Anne Boyer School of Dance for 16 years.

Kendrick expanded her horizons by studying art history in Italy and Spain.  She attended Stafford College for three years. In 1975, she graduated from Averett College with a degree in Humanities, Philosophy, and Theology.

As time went by, Kendrick danced with the Charlotte Ballet Co. from 1979-1981. She also studied at the Broadway Dance Center in New York. Her dance teaching credentials include Cramerton Rec. Dept., and several local church day cares. Kendrick also penned a dance related children’s book “Lizzy Bear”.

Kendrick began her long association with Belmont Parks and Rec. after filling in for, then taking over from, her dance instructor predecessor Joann Nichols who opened Dance Specialties. 

How many students does Kendrick reckon she’s taught at Parks and Rec. and elsewhere?

“Thousands,” she said.

Kendrick’s philosophy regarding the connection between dancing and life in general was central to her instructing the steps and moves.

“I taught my students that they are individuals, but in class they are also part of a group,” she said. “I wanted to boost their self esteem, make them feel important, and leave with a smile on their face even if they had been having  not their best day when they came in.”

Kendrick’s four decades of work saw  her become a “generational teacher”. She has several large notebooks filled with dance class and recital photos going back many years.

“I had students who were the children of former students,” she said. “I still stay in touch with many of them.”

Parks and Rec. director Zip Stowe praised Kendrick and the contributions she has made to the community as a whole and her students individually.

“Beth has been tremendous as a role model for the kids,” he said. “She has been fabulous and dedicated all these years. I have seen this with my own eyes.”

Now that retirement time has come, Kendrick plans to relax.

“Teaching has been absolutely delightful and I have been very blessed to have been able to do what l loved doing,” she said. “Now, I’m going to spend some time digging in the dirt and watching flowers grow.”

There are a couple of final phases in Kendrick’s dance career. On March 2 she was recognized by the Belmont city council at their meeting,. On March 21 at 4pm there will be a dance recital by her students held at South Point High with free admission. On March 26 from 4-6pm there will be a drop in event in her honor at the Parks and Rec, building located at 37 E. Woodrow Ave., Belmont.