STEEPLE ARTS ACADEMY OF DANCE is called the “Dance Center of Mountain Brook since 1935” and a brief look at history shows this to be true. STEEPLE ARTS, formerly known as “The Lola Mae Jones School of Dance” was, for 23 years, located “Upstairs Over Browdyʼs” in one of the two buildings in Mountain Brook Village at that time. It was to this Studio that children of Mountain Brook and surrounding areas came to take classes in Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Ballroom.
In 1958, Mrs. Jones and her daughter, Lola Mae Coates, moved their School of Dance into the Red Church Building on Church Street, and re-named the School “Steeple Arts Academy of Dance”. The picturesque Church proudly displays its Historical Marker! Through the years, the interior of the building has been re-designed several times to house what are now known as the most Beautiful Dance Studios in the South.
After Mrs. Jonesʼ death in 1971, Lola Mae Coates took over the position of Director of Steeple Arts. Mrs. Coates had received wide recognition for her original Choreography both at her Alma Mater, Vasser College, and during her stay to work in New York City. Upon returning to Birmingham to marry her husband, Dean Coates, and join her Motherʼs Teaching Staff, Lola Mae became extremely active in local Theater Productions. She staged and choreographed numerous Musicals presented by Town and Gown Theater. As one of the founders of the Birmingham Civic Ballet, she created what she considers her most important work … the Ballet, “Legend of the Valley”, which told the story of how the City of Birmingham was transformed from a peaceful Valley into a booming Industrial City by the discovery of Iron Ore. This major Ballet came about by encouragement of Eleanor and George Bridges, who introduced Lola Mae to Composer Paul Newell, and supported them both to create this Ballet. The creation of this Ballet had even more special meaning to Lola Mae since Birmingham was earlier known as Jones Valley, and she and her family are descendants of the Jones founding Fathers of this Valley.
With her own Steeple Arts Ballet Company, Lola Mae created scores of original Ballets which were performed throughout the Southeast. Her creative works won for her 5 Festival of Arts Awards for Choreography, and the ﬁrst Obelisk Award for Dance. In 1960, she was the Choreographer for the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. In the late 1960s, Mrs. Coates gave up her Company in order to devote her full attention to the Students at Steeple Arts. Until her death in 2012, she continued to do this as Advisor to the new Director, her daughter, Deanny Coates Hardy.
Deanny has studied all styles of Dance under her Mother (since age 2 ½) and with well known Teachers and Choreographers in New York. She is a graduate of Mountain Brook Elementary, Jr. High and High School, where she was a member of the “Dorians” dance team. As a graduate of The University of Mississippi, she was also a member of the “Rebelettes” dance team. Deanny is well known for her expertise in Dance Team technique which is taught in the Dance Team Prep classes. A large percentage of members performing with MBHS Dorians and MBJH Spartinettes have been taught and coached by “Miss Deanny”. Her family is proud to see her carry on the Principles and Traditions of Steeple Arts as she is moving it into the 4th Generation of Students! The Teaching Staff also spans the generations. Staff members who were trained at Steeple Arts include: Annette Troxell Collins, Bee Lewis, Mary Haley Griffin, Mary Ellen Wall, Lucy Spann and Rebecca Wise.
Steeple Arts is not just another “dancing school”, but a Private School for girls, stressing classic training in Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Ballroom. Along with their dance training, young girls are taught grace, poise and social amenities. Most importantly, they are taught to “hold their pretty heads high, have self-conﬁdence and be proud of themselves!” This Season of 2018 marks the 83rd Anniversary of Steeple Arts Academy of Dance.