A team of unified teachers, dedicated students and a steady stream of top-tier guest artists make dancers at North Pointe Dance Academy in Lewis Center some of the nation's best.

A team of unified teachers, dedicated students and a steady stream of top-tier guest artists make dancers at North Pointe Dance Academy in Lewis Center some of the nation's best.

In the 12 years since the dance studio opened its doors, at least one team in the studio's competition dance program has been crowned national champions each year.

North Pointe Dance Academy, 500 Orange Point Drive, offers classes for dancers of every age, experience level and inclination, including classes for adults.

The curriculum includes ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop and more, with opportunities for both competitive and casual dancers.

Carmen Mewhorter, 17, is one of the studio's most dedicated competitors.

The Olentangy High School student has danced at North Pointe since the studio opened in 2000. Today she dances jazz, ballet, hip hop and more on a team that regularly competes on the national stage.

She said the secret to the team's success is North Pointe's dedicated staff.

"They're not afraid to push us," Mewhorter said. "They help us realize that every one of us can always be better."

The rising senior hopes to dance her way into a college program next year, but other North Pointe competitors are just getting started.

The studio's competition program is open to dancers ages 4-18, with teams that offer varying levels of commitment, practicing one to four nights per week.

New and inexperienced dancers aren't left out. Casual dance classes make up the bulk of North Pointe's business, with classes in every genre and for dancers of every age and skill level.

Children and adults can sign up for half-hour and hour-long dance classes Monday through Saturday, with morning, afternoon and evening sessions. Students are invited even if they've never danced once in their life.

The instructors work hard to make new dancers feel comfortable and help them overcome any sense of embarrassment, said creative director Barb Coman.

"If they come into the hip-hop room and the teacher is enthusiastic and makes them feel good about being there, that shyness just goes away," she said. "Our faculty is very friendly and engaging."

Students enrolled in casual dance classes have the chance to perform for friends and family in a dance recital held at the end of each session, though the performance is strictly optional.

The studio also frequently invites accomplished performers to serve as guest teachers for up to a week at a time.

Recently, it hosted longtime Broadway star Laurie Kanyok and a number of dancers from the TV show So You Think You Can Dance.

But Coman said North Pointe's core faculty is its most essential feature, pushing the studio's competition teams to the highest levels.

"We want them to be the best they can be, and experience the success we know they're capable of," she said, "but we also have a lot of fun."