VALENTINE — A dance studio in the heart of cowboy country seems as improbable as the way it got there.
Amy Arganbright graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a master's degree on her way to becoming a certified dietitian.
The former Amy Turnbull grew up in Omaha, attended Millard West High School, then met and married her husband, Kyle Arganbright, in graduate school.
The young couple moved to Valentine to begin their married life together.
"When we first moved here, I was concentrating on finishing my degree," Amy said. "Once I accomplished that, the place where I was working out at asked if I would be interested in teaching a couple of dance classes."
She had been involved in dance since the age of 3. By the end of her high school dance career, she was practicing five days a week and was a member of a successful dance team at Millard West.
"I really loved to dance, and the team aspect of dancing in high school was phenomenal," she said. "You end up making lifelong friends and learn invaluable lessons."
Along with the lessons, dance also provides many physical benefits.
The studio became more than just an idea after Amy discovered there was more interest in dance in Valentine than she ever could have imagined.
"The first season we had, I put out brochures at the county fair," she said. "I got 60 students out of that first venture and taught the classes at the fitness center."
The following year, she had 120 students wanting to participate, so she needed to find a new place.
The Arganbrights had purchased an old building on Main Street in Valentine where Amy kept an office as she finished her degree and looked into becoming a dietitian.
They decided to convert the building into a dance studio and called it "Heart City Dance."
They purchased the base for the dance floor from a studio in Lincoln. The floor was then covered with a marley finish, which is a no-slip cover. They installed a wall of mirrors, some handrails and the next thing Amy knew, she was holding classes in her own studio.
What started with 60 students doubled to the 120 and resulted in 14 weekly classes with students ranging from 3 to high school age.
"The kids are just a ball," Amy said. "Some of the girls -- and boys -- show up and kick off their cowboy boots at the edge of the floor. They slip on their dance shoes and the girls become the girliest girls you could ever imagine.
"The next week, you may see them at a branding, riding horses, roping and wrestling calves and you realize just how diverse these young kids are. They are amazing."
As interest in dance in the middle of cattle country continues to grow, Amy said she hopes to someday see a dance team at Valentine High School.
"That would be awesome," she said. "To see these students grow as kids and as dancers and let them show everyone how talented they are would be great. We have recitals now, but to perform during games at the high school would attract new people to dance."
As this current season winds down, Amy and her charges will be performing two recitals at the Valentine High School Auditorium.
Tickets are available for performances on Friday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 18, at 3:30 p.m.