It’s said that when you do something you’re passionate about, you “never work a day in your life.” And lucky individuals get to combine their passions and hobbies into their career.
That’s certainly the case for Shay Thompson Morgan, owner and founder of Statesboro School of Dance.
Morgan is married to Clint Morgan and together they have two sons – Rand, 21, a junior at Georgia Southern and Rhett, 15, a freshman at Southeast Bulloch High School.
Morgan graduated from Georgia Southern with a business administration degree, but dancing has always been her passion.
She began her ballet training at age 3 and followed the Royal Academy of Dancing syllabus under Christine Wooten. Wooten had moved to Vidalia, Morgan’s hometown, after studying with the National Ballet of Canada.
“My mom and several of her friends signed their daughters up for ballet lessons with Mrs. Christine... I loved going each week to dance classes. I got to pretend to be a butterfly or a princess,” reflected Morgan. “It was a wonderful, magical time for me.”
After moving to Statesboro at 9, Morgan continued to dance, studying under Barbara Olewine, Christina Mead, Brenda Monroe and Pat Kelly.
From 1996 to 2001, Morgan served as a faculty member and soloist with Ballet South/Columbia City Ballet.
“I have studied with world-renowned teachers including David Howard, Karena Brock, Patricia Wilde and William Starrett,” Morgan said.
Starrett, former professional dancer and director of the Columbia City Ballet, was a tremendous influence in Morgan’s life while she was under his direction.
“He nurtured me and developed me and gave me amazing opportunities as a dancer and is the main influence of how I teach and direct my shows. He was a wonderful and caring mentor to me.”
“My performance achievements include major roles in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Les Sylphides, Cinderella, Hansel & Gretel and Dracula.”
Her love of dance has led Morgan to want to share her art with others and she has choreographed numerous original works. She has also taught community outreach and dance enrichment programs for Bulloch and Candler County schools, Georgia Southern University, and the Boys & Girls Club.
In 2002, she founded Statesboro School of Dance.
“I teach classical ballet, tap and jazz at my studio,” said Morgan. “We do three shows a year The Nutcracker, Faith in Motion and our end of the year show in June and this year it will The Sleeping Beauty.”
Statesboro School of Dance is a member of the Statesboro/Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce since 2003, and Morgan stays involved in community improvement.
She has participated in the Safe Haven Women’s Shelter fundraiser Dancing with the Statesboro Stars. Morgan also serves on the local board for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Her work with the Statesboro community earned her a Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award in 2017.
As a dancer, Morgan said that she loved expressing herself through movements and music.
“My favorite part of dancing myself was performing on stage. I loved getting to portray different characters while dancing,” Morgan stated. “My favorite thing about teaching is getting to share my love of dance with the children and getting to know them. They inspire me and keep me young.”
Young children get into dancing for a wide array of reasons, and some dream to take it to larger audiences. One of Morgan’s students is from Savannah at Ballet South/Columbia City Ballet named Alston McGill.
“She is now a professional dancer with the New York City Ballet. I have been able fortunate to see her perform in the Nutcracker ballet in NYC,” said Morgan.
Statesboro School of Dance and Morgan along with her many co-instructors have been teaching dancing lessons to the Boys and Girls Club of Bulloch County for 18 years.
Morgan‘s passion for dance assists her in business because of her desire to spread the art and beauty of dance to children and she has taught thousands of students over the years between Metter, Savannah and Statesboro.
“Dance lessons give children self-confidence and help them express themselves and teaches them great life lessons of self-discipline and how to work as a team,” she said.
The studio, located at 360 South Zetterower Ave in Statesboro, has many faculty members who are former students at Statesboro School of Dance. The passion that Morgan has fed into these students is now reaching another generation of dancers.