Always on his feet: Legacy dance studio owner follows artistic passion, creates opportunity for others to do the same

Bella Barnum Collier, owner of Legacy Dance Studio, practices poses and dance moves in her studio in downtown Glenwood.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Bella Barnum Collier hadn’t planned on being pregnant with her first child the same year she opened a dance studio in Glenwood Springs, but that didn’t stop her from doing so.

“Soon after I started my business and my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my husband and I talked, and it was really important to us that my dad could experience being a grandfather because he was the best grandfather, ”Collier said. “And so we brought our schedule forward a bit… I don’t just do things, I do things big. I go big or I come home.

It was 2017, and although she and her family lost her father to her battle with cancer last June, she said during this year’s dance recital at Two Rivers Park that she still felt her supportive presence encouraged her and her students.

“Our performance was last weekend… and it was amazing. I was bawling on Saturday night at the last performance. I had danced there… and so looking out and seeing that crowd again, seeing those smiling faces and just being able to offer that was really special, ”said Collier. “We still hear his voice, even last weekend I swear I could hear him clapping in the crowd. Because he’s always been our No.1 fan, always there to help us.

Collier grew up in Glenwood Springs dancing at the GWS Center for the Arts while growing up. When it came time to play her senior solo, she choreographed a dance called “Brave” and took her whole family on stage with her.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It was such a cool moment, it was something that had never been done before, and just the visual of all of us standing on stage… I had them all in black and I was wearing white, ”Collier said. “At the start of the dance we were all dancing together and at the end of the dance I was standing alone on stage. They were standing behind me and it was like they were there to support me, but it was time for me to be brave.

She’s a middle child – her younger sister Bailey Barnum is six years younger than her, and they had an older sister Nicole who was severely disabled and died in 2012. The choreography that particularly stands out for Collier is a piece contemporary she composed for a trio based on a dream she had with an a cappella cover of “Sound of Silence” by Disturbed.

Bella Barnum Collier, owner of Legacy Dance Studio, taps in her studio in downtown Glenwood.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“The concept was a dream I had when I woke up and was in this heavenly place. My older sister who was deceased and my best friend who was also deceased (were there) and we kind of got together in heaven. The concept was what would you do if you had the opportunity to see these people again, ”Collier said.

Barnum’s first time dancing was at the age of 18 months, on the sidelines of one of Collier’s classes. Collier said she remembered her teacher at the time watching her sister follow along and decided it was time to order an extra tutu and choreograph her in the dance as well.

“Dance has always been with us, it really is our special bond. It’s always been part of who we are and it’s always been there for us in tough times, ”said Collier.

After the GWS Arts Center closed, Collier decided to open Legacy dance studio – a name that she specifically chose to reflect her family values ​​and show her permanence, a place that could continue to provide dance lessons even after her time. Barnum said she has always admired her older sister, but seeing her take on the role of a business owner so that local youth can keep dancing only adds to her attitude of wanting to empower others.

“She has so much motivation, she still has it. But she took care of it and she created this company and partly for me so that I could dance my senior year. … She makes sure everyone stands up with her, ”Barnum said.

In addition to her responsibilities as a dance studio owner, Collier is raising her 2.5 year old son Jesse with her husband David, she is vice chair of the board of directors of Defiance Community Theater, supervisor quarterback from Starbucks and online student at Arizona State University pursuing a degree in digital audiences. She is also a nature enthusiast who enjoys camping, hiking, and connecting her bare feet to the earth whenever she needs to unplug.

Bella Barnum Collier, owner of Legacy Dance Studio, taps in her studio in downtown Glenwood.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“I’m really passionate about local nonprofits, and my goal is actually to use that to then help these nonprofits that have such an important job that they do and so many people don’t. not even know. … The cold brew is what keeps me going, it has a little extra caffeine in it, I work on the cold brew, ”Collier said.

2021 will mark the fifth anniversary of the Legacy Dance studio and Collier said that in addition to opening another room in the building for lessons, there are also plans to add another teacher and start offering dance lessons for adults. Barnum added that she would devote more time to her teaching duties at Legacy and that she would continue to work alongside her sister doing what they both love.

“She and I have been through a lot together in life, at work and in dance. It means so much to me that we can share this together, and we always have and always will. I just hope she knows how special she is, ”Barnum said.

Journalist Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or

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