Dancing Through Life Training the Heart and Soul at South Coast Conservatory

by • August 29, 2016 • Health, September 2016

In the 1960’s, a man named Roger W. Sperry developed a theory: that the human brain goes about thinking in two very different ways. Having worked in the field of psychobiology for years, he’d noticed that one side of the brain saw the big picture – processing information in an intuitive and simultaneous fashion. The other, putting sequential pieces together like a puzzle, parts making a whole. We all use both sides of the brain – complementing logic with creativity. But ask any dancer, writer, sculptor, or painter and they’ll tell you they’re “right brained.”

Controlling three-dimensional spatial reasoning, creativity, and artistic ability, right brain dominance certainly has given us some of the world’s greatest art forms. And South Coast Conservatory is finding more and more ways to celebrate it.


Director + CEO Jena Minnick-Bull

Founded in 1992, the Conservatory is heading into its 25th year of operation. Specializing in individual and group dance in classical, contemporary and commercial, they provide programs for kids from age 2-18. Programs to help children grow, programs that train “the heart and soul of every dancer,” says Director + CEO Jena Minnick-Bull.

Formerly known as Mission Viejo Dance, South Coast Conservatory now has locations in San Clemente and Laguna Niguel. Offering eight separate programs, from Pre-Academy to Competitive Dance Teams, South Coast continues to expand into new communities.

Linking up the left and right brains is an automatic function of the body – synthesizing even to the smallest degree what we are seeing out of our left and right eyes, and putting the picture together as a whole. Because each student learns differently, South Coast has set up a compassionate and individualized teaching philosophy. “We take the time to understand and aid the goals of our students.”

And dance, really, isn’t just about processing information intuitively, as most might think. The analysis of sequential movements, for example: choreography. A projected kinetic trajectory on an angled plane: leaping. Symmetry, patterning, geometry – group theory and permutations. Left brain and right brain working together to create beauty, community, and create a passion for learning that will persist for years beyond any single dance class.

Parents learn about passion alongside their children too. Adriana Escobar notes that she loves South Coast Conservatory because it introduced her daughter to such a passion: musical theater. “[The Conservatory] provided her with the place and people she needed to take a chance to dance, sing, and then to act. Today, it’s her passion and she is comfortable on any stage.”

Roger Sperry went on to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1981 for his work in psychobiology – and certainly, while South Coast is preparing kids for a lifetime of creative, right-brained pursuits, Jena notes that “all of our graduates go on to pursue many diverse degrees and careers using the lifelong skills our school provided them.”

The South Coast Conservatory studio is located at 27652 Camino Capistrano in Laguna Niguel (949) 367-0099 and its San Clemente studio is located at 400-C Camino De Estrella (949) 682-7977. For more information, visit

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