ABOUT THE OWNER
Nicole Oxendine is a dancer, educator, activist, and organizer dedicated to cultivating connections through dance. Believing in the power of dance to empower students and build communities, Oxendine’s 26-year career has been built upon her commitment to educating and mentoring students of all backgrounds and abilities. After dancing professionally and studying dance therapy, Oxendine taught dance for more than a decade in Durham, NC’s public schools and universities, and worked extensively to develop dance programming with nonprofit organizations. In 2015, Oxendine founded Empower Dance Studio to address a need she saw for affordable, quality dance education that valued students of all abilities. Empower has become a cornerstone in Durham’s arts community, and founding the studio has provided a springboard for Oxendine to further her mission of empowerment through dance.
A problem-solver whose experience has taught her the healing power of dance, Oxendine founded Empower Dance Studio in response to seeing a clear need in her community. She became keenly aware of her high school dance students' loss of self-confidence as they fell into the trappings of a culture selling a specific ideal of beauty. Witnessing the juxtaposition of high schoolers’ rampant insecurities alongside her elementary students’ sheer delight in dancing, Oxendine wanted to create an environment that celebrated the natural beauty and abilities of all dancers. Drawing on her background in dance therapy and her extensive work in dance education, Oxendine began to create her own curriculum and, with her colleague and former student Jessica Burroughs working on logistics, Empower Dance Studio became the vibrant, inclusive community she dreamed it would be, expanding to a full range of class offerings for all ages within its first year.
Building on Empower’s momentum, Oxendine has since launched the Empower Dance Foundation, a nonprofit foundation to cover students’ tuition, and she has shared her expertise in creating community-driven arts programming as a consultant across the state. Seeing her mission of cultivating connections through dance and art as her life’s great work, Oxendine thrives on finding new avenues to harness the power of movement and art to empower people, spark joy, and create community.