Owner and operator Deborah Skinner said that the academy grew from 450 students to 655 in a year.
“I’m just really shocked,” she said. “It is amazing for how the economy is.”
The growth made it an easy decision to add to her two studios at 124 W. 10th St., Skinner said, by starting a third in the loft at the former JC Penney building a few doors down at the corner of 10th and B streets.
Realty World Corral Hollow occupies the downstairs floor of the building.
Skinner said the “beautiful space” at 975 B St. will allow her to host more evening classes of ballet, modern dance and acrobatics.
As piano music echoed through the loft Tuesday, July 10, a dozen ballet students danced across the floor for a pointe lesson, which teaches ballet students to dance on their toes.
“It’s great,” said parent Lara Robinson, as she and her husband Chris watched their 10-year-old daughter Jacqueline dance. “Nice big room to practice. They did such a beautiful job on the restoration.”
Staci Beckman said she loves the room because of the special flooring that makes it easier on the ballet students’ feet, flooring that Skinner installed along with mirrors. Beckman was there to watch her daughter Gabrielle, 12.
“I love it. So nice for the girls and boys,” Beckman said.
When Skinner first decided to expand to a third studio location, she said her plan was to remain downtown. When she looked around, she said she was approached by Sue Langdon of Realty World.
Langdon offered the loft after she recently moved her real estate business back into 104 W. 10th St. after the building underwent several months of extensive renovations to repair damaged trusses in the ceiling.
“Just need it a few hours, and everything fell into place,” Skinner said.
The reason more children are signing up for classes, Skinner said, is due in part to her tuition being the same for 10 years, the high level of training they offer and the family atmosphere.
Skinners’ training has resulted in seven of her ballet students getting accepted to a year-round program at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in New York.
Skinner said the academy doesn’t allow diva attitudes, doesn’t endorse inappropriate costumes, and focuses students’ efforts on the quality of the dancing.
During Tuesday’s class, she told her students that life was about challenges and that ballet is an art form that’s not for wimps. She said dancers should accept each challenge as an opportunity to be better and not worry about what other dancers are doing.
“It’s all about quality, not about flash,” Skinner said. “It teaches kids to work really hard and to focus.”
Classes offered at the academy include ballet, jazz, tap, tumbling, hip-hop and contemporary for students from preschool age to the pre-professional level. Skinner said she also teaches autistic children in a music and movement class that has 15 students.
This summer, the academy is offers 50 weekly classes, and 70 will be available in the fall, Skinner said.
For information: 830-9296 or www.apaoftracy.com.