Girls in the family go to Dance Connections and the boy plays baseball,” jokes sophomore Rangerette Kaitlin Hanus on her hometown of Magnolia.
As Hanus describes the old and new part of Magnolia, she explains that the dance studio Dance Connections she now owns is in the old part.
The studio is a 6,200 square-foot building with three dance rooms. It is now all in her name as of December, when the deal closed.
The plan of owning her own studio has been in action before this past December. She said she has always wanted to own her own studio.
Hanus said there has been no Plan B when it came to deciding what she wanted to do with her life. In her heart she has always wanted to teach dance.
“My mom found a paper from writing class in fourth grade that said I wanted to be a ballet teacher,” said Hanus.
Hanus has been dancing since she was 3-years-old She really never did any other activities.
“My life was always dance,” Hanus said. She has also been helping teach dance classes at Dance Connections since she was in sixth grade. In addition, Hanus teaches a drill team prep class every Wednesday at In Step Dance Company in Kilgore and gives private dance lessons.
As to how the proposal to buy the studio came about, Hanus said, previous owner Gina Demings “was very persistent with me. She is such an awesome person.”
Hanus explains that she babysat Demings’ children, grew up with her as her dance teacher, and was very close to her.
Demings would tell Hanus in high school that if Hanus made Rangerette, she wanted her to buy her dance studio. Hanus said she would think about the possibility, but did not take it seriously. However, last April, near the end of her freshman year, Demings said she was serious about the deal and wanted to sit down with Hanus’ parents because she wanted to sell the studio to Hanus.
With Demings having two children, she really wanted to focus on being a mom.
“It was a hard decision, but me and my parents prayed about it, and realized this was a God thing,” Hanus said. ”My parents have really been there every step of the way.”
Hanus said she was kind of worried about not continuing with school and getting her bachelor’s degree but decided she was going after her dream.
One of Hanus’ best friends in Rangerettes says she can do this.
“Kait is probably one of the most responsible and headstrong people I have ever met,” sophomore Rangerette Heather Manskey said. “Out of anyone I know she is the only person I can see going straight out of college and owning her own studio and being successful with it.”
Freshman Rangerette sister Jessica Hensal concurs.
“My favorite trait about Kaitlin is her optimism,” Hensal said. “Even when things get difficult, she continues to find the best in each situation.”
Another reason Dance Connections has always been close to Hanus’ heart is because it is a big part of why she is a Rangerette.
Deming was the Rangerette captain in 1996.
Another influential instructor at Dance Connections for Hanus was Samandra Young Nail, who was a Rangerette from 2000-2002.
“If it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t have tried out,” said Hanus. Hanus said those teachers have inspired her to be a better dance teacher because they danced and taught with grace and class.
“Rangerettes has definitely taught me responsibility,” Hanus said. She said it has also sharpened her dance skills and made her more mature.
Hanus says she is very excited about her classes totaling more than 230 girls. There will be jazz, hip hop, tap, ballet, mommy and daughter, and tumbling classes. She will also have competition teams. As to whether becoming a Rangerette will be promoted in her studio, Hanus grinned and said, “Oh yes.”