Donna Estes doesn’t have a long walk to work. Her famed Donna’s Dance Studio – which has been a second home to thousands of students for decades – is adjacent to her home on Bessom Street in Lynn.
In September, Estes will begin her 50th consecutive season as owner and dance teacher extraordinaire.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been a business for 50 years,” said Donna. “I know it feels like quite the accomplishment. I keep thinking back when I was 18 and nervous starting out – who would have ever thought that we’d go to 50 years?”
Estes launched her dream after graduating from Lynn English High School in 1973. Her studio was in Swampscott for 14 years before moving to its current location in Lynn, where it has been for the last 36 years.
It has been a challenging couple of years. The COVID-19 pandemic forced her to close the doors in March, 2020, but the following year she re-opened, and the individual care and professionalism that she had shown to her students and their parents through the years was rewarded with an enrollment that has returned to what Donna said were “amazing” numbers, pre-pandemic.
“I’m absolutely proud of my studio,” said Donna with the enthusiasm and joy that you’d expect from the legendary dance instructor. “It’s been a lot of hard work. But you know what, you don’t have benefits when you own a dance studio, but one thing you do have: my bennies are all the happy memories and the generations of people that I’ve been teaching.”
Donna, whose mother, Grace Derby Moholland, was a professional performer in the arts at the Capitol Theater in Lynn, is married to Ken Estes, a retired Lynn Police officer. They have two daughters, Gracelyn and Delaine, who grew up dancing at their mother’s studio. The Esteses are looking forward to a family wedding in October. To say the least, there’ll be some terrific dancing going on at the wedding reception, none better at it than Donna Estes, who has dedicated her career to the profession of dance.
And the people have responded to Donna’s brilliant tutorship with a full dance studio that has brimmed with love and warmth each year for the past fifty.