South Bend dance studio creating entertainment, community in Michiana

Published 12:19 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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SOUTH BEND — Sharon Sims and her business, Dance Society, are creating a unique form of entertainment and community in Michiana.

Her unique events and classes create a space for movement, music, and joy, whether you’re an experienced dancer or are far from comfortable moving in your own body. The unique combinations of motion and subject matter continue to make for some of the best evening and morning experiences in the local music and cultural scene.

Good Morning Dance Socials are just one example. On a Sunday morning, attendees gather in an inspiring location such as the Potawatomi Conservatory indoor botanical gardens and move to house music spun by DJ Chuck Fry, entertainment more often found on a Saturday night. The room is bright, the coffee and drinks are flowing from the cart hosted by A Roaster Called Revenant, and smiles fill the room. For a few hours on a weekend morning, dancers move to the music, bouncing beach balls, making friends, and joining in the occasional choreography led by Sims. Good Mornings have featured extras such as free massages, a badminton net, or a closing yoga session. By the end, attendees have shaken off the previous evening and any other worries or stresses.

Sims also offers a variety of dance classes, marked by the unexpected variety of topics which make up the foundation of the choreography. Past and upcoming subjects have included the work of comedian Bo Burnham, the 2007 film Juno, actress and singer Hilary Duff, and musicians who may or may not make music one would associate with dancing, such as Phoebe Bridgers, ABBA, Shania Twain, The Cranberries, Sam Cooke, The Mamas and The Papas, and Talking Heads.

No dance experience is necessary to attend. All Sims asks of attendees is a willingness to exit their comfort zone and to open to the idea of being unabashed in front of others. A typical class includes a variety of theme-related warm up activities that include body movement, short dances, and the occasional use of a scooter. The bulk of the class then turns toward a single choreographed dance to a particular song, broken into pieces and eventually performed by the entire group by the end of the class. 

The unexpected subject matter of her classes is something Sims evolved to from more traditional dance. 

Born in 1993, she was raised by a single mother along with five siblings. Her upbringing molded her into a very independent individual.

She found an attraction to dance at an early age. Her family didn’t have the resources as a family to attend a dance studio, but she taught herself listening to music and watching music videos.

“I was listening to music, finding rhythm, exploring the ways my body can move,” she said.

In fifth grade, she was able to join a dance team at her school, finally getting the chance to perform. She was forced out of shyness, taking what she had done so long and alone and performing with a team in front of a crowd. She continued at Clay High School in the Magnet Program For The Arts, refining her skills and finding mentors. By her senior year, she was spending most of her school day in the dance studio.

Lacking the experience to attend the dance schools she hoped to after high school, she took a break from dancing while attending Indiana Wesleyan University for three semesters. Unhappy with where she was, she returned to South Bend and found herself joining Fisher Dance, a recently formed company.

“A whole universe opened up to me,” she said.

Sims would spend a handful of years honing her skills, collaborating with others, and shifting through changes in dance companies until the COVID-19 pandemic put a brakes on her momentum.

She had learned the lesson, though, that she didn’t have to attend a higher education program to do what she loved. With her experience in those companies and running classes on her own, she took the break to take full creative control, aiming for her vision of dance as something social, joyful, and romantic, meant to build community.

“I’m just going to start teaching classes,” she recalled telling herself.

Though her classes started with only a few people attending, they have now grown into an entire community. Her events often sell out, with her alternative topics and takes on dancing finding people who may otherwise have never considered a dance class.

Sims has found joy in showing people the world of dance, helping them to learn that they can lose themselves in moving their bodies, that they can have fun while breaking out of their comfort zones, and that they can build a confidence that follows them out into the world. Her experience with Dance Society has also taught her lessons about pushing herself and connecting with others.

“At the end of the day, I think what I’m learning is that people are good and kind and they want to have friends and they want to feel like they belong and I want to feel like I belong and that’s all that really matters,” she said.

Dance Society is currently offering a variety of classes, with additional events and socials to come. You can find a schedule and more information by visiting

Justin Flagel is the founder of Red Chuck Productions, where he writes, tells stories, and creates new media. Follow his work at Feedback can be directed to