BREVARD COUNTY – For many families, going back to school also means going back to dance – an extracurricular activity that has long been known as one of the most popular for children and teens.
And as Brevard’s population continues to grow, so does the number and range of dance-related opportunities, including classes for adults.
Regardless of age, residents will find an abundance of classes, as well as performances, that are open to the public as summer ends and the academic year progresses.
“Every summer there are big changes,” noted Melbourne Dancewear's owner, Kitty Hatton. “It’s a time when a lot of studios close, and there’s a lot of restructuring and opening of new locations.”
Here are several locations where Brevard residents can find dance classes to suit their needs. While many of the venues have similar qualities, each has something unique to offer.
This non-exhaustive list covers Suntree to Palm Bay.
Brevard Ballet Academy: 1399 Highland Ave., Melbourne; www.brevardballet.com.
Aiming to provide world-class training using the Vaganova ballet system as its foundation, Brevard Ballet Academy offers pre-ballet, ballet, pointe, body conditioning, boys conditioning and contemporary/jazz classes for children and teens, along with ballet classes for adults. Serious students will find specialized opportunities in the academy’s pre-professional track.
The Brevard Ballet Youth Company, a nonprofit, produces full-length ballets with participation from company members, academy students and visiting professional dancers.
“The Nutcracker Ballet” – which features original choreography by academy Director Elena Shokhina – will run Dec. 21 at the Eau Gallie High School Performing Arts Center. A spring production will be held May 30 at the same location. Area residents may audition for “The Nutcracker Ballet” Saturday, Aug. 17. Check the academy’s website for details.
This year, retired professional dancer Elaine Eccleston will join the academy as head of contemporary training and an expanded range of contemporary levels will be offered.
Dance Arts Centre: 1855 S. Patrick Drive, Indian Harbour Beach; 814 W. New Haven Ave., Melbourne; www.DanceAC.org.
Dance Arts Centre will host a grand opening at its new Melbourne studio from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10.
As a nonprofit, DAC aims to promote positive change in the lives of youth through creative movements and the arts by offering financial hardship scholarships, a dance outreach program and manageable tuition.
Tiny Tots and creative movement classes are available for the youngest students, while ballet, pointe, modern, hip-hop, jazz, tap, musical theater, acro, stretch/turns/leaps, conditioning, lyrical/contemporary and choreography/improv classes are available for older children and teens. Adult ballet, tap and cabaret jazz classes are also available, as are numerous performing opportunities for the studio’s company dancers.
Heather’s Dance Studio: 2528 Palm Bay Road, Palm Bay; 2330 N. Highway A1A, Indialantic; www.heathersdancestudio.com. Open house: Saturday, Aug. 10, Palm Bay - 10 a.m. to 12:30; Indialantic - 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Passionate about passing on the love of dance to future generations, Heather’s offers Dance with Me classes for toddlers and parents – an experience that includes an exciting component for each pair. Participants perform at the studio’s holiday performance and party, an event that’s open to the public at the Melbourne Auditorium, then the toddlers perform again with their instructors in recital.
Older children and teens may select from ballet, pointe, jazz, hip-hop, acro, tap, contemporary, lyrical, stretch and musical theater classes. Teen-adult ballet/pointe, tap, contemporary/jazz, lyrical/contemporary/acro, ballet barre workout and jazz/Latin fusion classes are also available.
This year, Heather’s is welcoming back former student and instructor Cindy Heen, who recently earned a master’s degree of fine arts in dance from Mills College in California.
The studio, which has new projects in the works, will hold competition team tryouts in September.
Ultimate Dance Florida: UDF North, 3270 Suntree Blvd., Ste. 1113; UDF South,1320 Culver Drive NE, Palm Bay. Open house dates: UDF North: 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 10, 5-7 p.m. Aug. 14, 1-3 p.m. Aug. 17; UDF South: 1-3 p.m. Aug. 10, 5-7 p.m. Aug. 15, 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 17.
Ultimate Dance emphasizes teamwork, cooperation, family and work ethic, and uses the American Ballet Theatre system and Top Gun technique and conditioning program to provide a strong dance foundation.
Children and teens may select from ballet, lyrical, pointe, acro, tap, jazz, contemporary and hip-hop classes. Tiny Tots and combo classes are also available.
Several new teachers will join Ultimate Dance this year in updated spaces featuring new paint, flooring and more.
The UDF Powerhouse Dance Team is the studio’s competition team.