DAVIDSON – The lure of ballet’s graceful movement pulled Terilynne Knox in at the tender age of 5, when she first saw “Swan Lake.”

“I just thought, ‘that’s what I want to do,’ and thank goodness it worked out, but I was inspired by a performance,” she said.

After receiving a ballet teaching degree from Virginia Intermont College, Knox relocated to the Lake Norman area 30 years ago and began working with students.

Now the director and owner of her own studio, Dance Davidson, she recalls with laughter earlier days spent teaching technique using a pull-out ironing board in the home economics room of the Ada Jenkins Center.

At Dance Davidson, her 11 instructors help dancers ages 3 to adult master the art of ballet, Pointe, jazz, modern and contemporary dance. Knox said it is particularly gratifying to teach the children of the students she instructed when she first moved here. 

“People who don’t know ballet think it’s this wonderful, magical . . . and it is magic, don’t get me wrong, that it’s glamorous and it’s costumed and it’s special makeup,” she said. “But that’s just one very small part, that’s what the audience gets to see. It is really repetition. Do it again. Do it again. Do it again.”

Knox said real ballet is about technique and a lot of hard, grueling work.

That’s why she’s especially proud of Libby Dy, 12, and Ryan Massey, 14, who will attend a five-week intensive summer program at American Ballet Theatre in Manhattan, after beating out thousands of other applicants.

Another student, Lauren Mock, 14, also earned a spot at a two-week summer program hosted by the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

All three students have that “certain type of body” Knox said instructors look for – long and lean. They dedicate five to six afternoons a week to dancing at have studio. Libby and Lauren have both taken classes at Dance Davidson since they were 3.

“The easiest ballet steps are often the hardest,” Lauren said. “Running, jumping and leaping are easy, but working at the bar perfecting technique is tricky.”

The trio's summer classes will focus on ballet technique, learning more about the proper way to hold their bodies and execute movements.

Ryan said that fully committing to the craft of ballet by practicing on his own is the hardest part of dancing.

“In ballet now, if you get into a ballet company, it’s not just classical ballet,” Knox said. “You’re dancing modern choreography and jazz, and even a little bit of musicals. You need to be more well-rounded.”

Libby said her parents plan to rent an apartment in New York and will take turns staying with her while she’s in class.

Knox is excited for her students to learn more about ballet’s historic choreography, such as dancing the solo of the Sugarplum Fairy in “The Nutcracker.” In this way, they'll keep old traditions alive. 

“It’s very gratifying because this type of choreography has been passed down for hundreds of years,” she said.