All she's ever wanted to be, says Barbara McDonald, is a dancer.
And while she's taken the time over her 39 years to be a wife to Air Force retiree David McDonald and mother to three boys, dance is still her passion.
McDonald has channeled that zeal into her first business venture, Barbara's Dance Academy, which she opened in May in the Route 10 Plaza.
"This isn't like a job for me," McDonald said during an interview in her new studio. "I love to dance. Every time I hear a piece of music, I think, 'How can I dance to that?'"
Although it seems she was destined to be a dancer, McDonald discovered the art by accident.
Born and raised in nearby Caroline County, Md., McDonald was best friends with a girl who had started ballet classes at the county's Parks and Recreation Center. Although her friend eventually dropped out, McDonald was charmed by the grace and style of instructor Pamela Showacre.
She told her mother – who had been a dancer in her youth – that she wanted to take classes herself.
"I got home and showed her all the things I'd learned and said, I just have to do this," McDonald said.
McDonald took classes throughout middle and high school, appearing in shows and attending workshops where she expanded her repertoire to include other dance styles.
She continued her education at Towson University, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and Education. She's since become a nationally certified instructor with the Dance Vision International Dance Association.
After her marriage, McDonald continued learning and teaching, although always in someone else's studio. Her husband's career took the couple and their growing family to Hawaii, Alaska, California, Delaware and New Mexico and finally again, back to Delaware.
Not too soon after returning to the First State, McDonald began the process of opening her own studio. It didn't take her long to find the right spot, a former quilt shop in the Route 10 Plaza.
She renovated the old store with new flooring, fresh paint and mirrors on the walls. The space is bright and airy, giving plenty of room for McDonald's ballet, tap and jazz classes. She plans to expand her schedule to include additional dance forms such as hip-hop and ballroom, plus staples such as the salsa, rumba, cha-cha and others.
She'll also offer instruction in what many couples consider the highlight of any wedding reception: their first dance together as husband and wife.
"I really felt it was the right time," she said. "I like this location, too, so maybe it's just meant to be."