The Durante dance studio may have new owners and a new name, but the mission and vision remain the same: to offer all young people the opportunity to dance.
Randy Finley recently sold his studio to Angie Pomeroy and Ashley Lynch who renamed it Northeastern Dance Academy (NDA). Finley started dancing 47 years ago and teaching 37 years ago. In 2001 he opened his first studio in Holyoke, then after closing it for a few years to reorganize he opened Durante’s Dance Studio in Sterling in 2008 and a year later he was again in Holyoke.
When the Sterling Studio first opened, there were only 45 students enrolled, but the number was growing every year and at one point there were as many as 221 children enrolled.
“Kids always come first to me and that includes having fun, if they’re not having fun they won’t be there. The last thing I wanted was for a child to leave here sad or crying for whatever reason, because he couldn’t take a step or had misunderstood something that was wrong. been said, ”Finley said.
“This is one of the things that is really important to Angie and me is that there is sometimes this misnomer that if you get really exceptional dance training it has to be really serious and strict and you can’t have fun and we really believe it is, and that’s why working with Randy suits us so well, that you can have exceptional dance training and have fun at the same time, ”said Lynch.
Pomeroy, who was born and raised in Sterling, has been teaching dance for 18 years along the Front Range and owned a studio in Highlands Ranch, with a business partner. She met Lynch, who also has extensive experience in the dance industry, when they were both dance graduates at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.
Wanting to return to a smaller area to raise her four-year-old daughter, Pomeroy and her husband decided two years ago that they wanted to return to Sterling. As fate would have it, at the same time, Lynch and her husband, originally from Sterling, decided that they wanted to settle here as well.
“I always knew I wanted to own a dance studio and being able to just give back to the community I grew up in was extremely important to me,” said Pomeroy.
So when she decided to return to Sterling, she made sure to contact her cousin, Finley. Needing another dance teacher, he quickly approached her and she came on board in January 2020. Then following an injury in October and due to family needs, Finley began to think about selling his studio and Pomeroy and Lynch seemed like the perfect choice. , because they believe in many of the same things he does.
The two longtime friends did not hesitate and, last spring, they took over the reins of the studio.
“Angie and I have casually talked about owning a dance studio for years, the whole time we’ve been friends and it was just the perfect time for us,” Lynch said. “We’re really lucky because Randy has built a really amazing business, he has some really great families here, a lot of really loyal families and a really strong foundation that we can build on. So, it was an easy decision for us.
“And we are really lucky because he is always there and always involved when we need help or seek advice, we are really lucky that he has made himself as available to us as he has. done, “Pomeroy added.
Finley will continue to teach at the NDA whenever needed and he also continues to teach at Candy’s Dance Academy in Brush and Fort Morgan.
“For me, one of the awards comes the following year and my elders come back to say hello and want to take my course. I want every kid to leave here, no matter when they choose to move on, that they still love what we’ve done. I have met too many children and adults who, once they have finished dancing, have finished dancing, it doesn’t have to be that way, ”he said.
For all three of them, teaching dance is not a job, it’s something they are passionate about and they want to share that with the children and help them develop that same love of dance.
“There are a lot of kids, especially in a more rural community, who lack really specific and knowledgeable training and I think that’s one of the things that’s so important to us is that we are constantly working to stay up to date and informed. about what’s going on in the dance industry, so that we can provide our children with relevant and accurate training, but also without ever compromising this fun and healthy environment, ”said Lynch.
NDA offers courses for children from 2 to 18 years old; they have also had adult classes before and hope to do so again.
The creative movement is offered to children from two to three years old. Lynch explained that the class for two-year-olds is a very specialized class using a program that she and Pomeroy have put together that is unique to their studio. It is very specific to age-appropriate development and class preparation.
A ballet and tap combo is offered for ages six and under, hip hop / acro for ages five to seven, then at age seven, students switch to a similar hour – ballet, tap dance, jazz, hip hop, pom or acro for dancers, which is Pomeroy and Lynch’s unique vision of specialized acrobatic movements for dance.
“Rather than trying to teach them tumbling arbitrarily, we’re really focusing on the acrobatic skills that they’re going to use in choreographing in a dance. So it’s very different from your power tumbling or your gymnastics, ”said Lynch.
One of their goals is to get students on stage as much as possible, at least at least four times a year. Contrary to the trend that dance studio owners cannot be organized, they have already booked recitals for 2022 and are excited to host them at Northeastern Junior College.
“And Randy has always been very involved in the community and for us this is just an opportunity to continue, it’s like what more can we do to get the kids to be in front of people as often as possible” , said Lynch.
With that in mind, they will be participating in the Logan County Fair Parade on August 7th.
Right now, NDA is in the middle of a full summer program and offers camps and classes all summer. These sessions will run until August and fall classes will start on September 7th. Although the NDA has yet to organize registration for the fall, it already has around 125 children registered.
They are also looking to sign people up for their “Sterling Community Nutcracker Remix,” which premieres December 18-19. All ages and skills are welcome and the show is open to the community, you don’t have to be a studio student to participate. All dance styles will be included and no experience is necessary.
The casting will take place on Saturday, September 11 at the NDA, 215 N. Second Street, 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for children under six, 9:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. for ages 7 to 10, 10:30 a.m. at 11 a.m. for 11-13 year olds and from 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. for 14 years old and over.
For those who wish to register for courses, NDA welcomes girls and boys; in fact they were thrilled to see an increase in the number of boys coming to the studio especially young boys and for high school students enrolled in sports they will be working with you so you can find a way to do both .
“I used to train customer service people for a long time and I was like ‘you have to find a way to say yes’ and that’s one of the things that we really care about, we’re here to understand how we make dancing a yes for you, how can we figure out how to make group, sport and dance work so that dancing can always be a yes for you, ”said Lynch.
“We want to be accessible, if you have any questions don’t just rule it out, come let us know and if we don’t know how to figure it out, we will work with you to resolve it,” added Pomeroy.
Coming from the customer service experience, for Lynch it was important to make sure it was easy for parents to interact with them. To this end, the studio has a Facebook page; a website, where students can register for online courses; parents are free to send questions to the two women by text message; and they are also willing to meet in person at the studio to answer any concerns or questions parents might have.
The NDA provides a “scholarship,” which Finley also did, which is simply to help out whenever someone needs it. For example, if a student can afford dance clothes, he will pay for them.
“Even to this day, even though I’m not a homeowner, if there’s a kid I know who can’t afford clothes or classes, I’ll pay for him and these ladies. Because there’s always that chance, that kid who just needs to dance, ”Finley said.
Wanting to reach as many young people as possible, NDA seeks to create opportunities for people to access and experience the studio without having to sign up for a course.
“There is so much going on here that we are constantly changing whatever needs to be done to accommodate the community, so that more and more children have the ability to dance,” said Finley.
Pomeroy and Lynch also spoke to the RE-1 Valley School District about helping out with the RE’S mentoring program and mentoring any student who is interested in dancing, and they reached out to local preschools to teach classes in their school so that students do not. have to miss the dance just because their parents can’t get them to the studio every week.
Additionally, they met with the Logan County Arts League, in hopes of becoming more involved in the community and the arts.
“We want dance to be accessible to everyone. Growth is definitely our number one goal; we want as many children who want to dance to be able to dance as possible, ”said Pomeroy.
For more information on the dance studio, call 970-580-7142 or visit their website, www.northeasterndanceacademy.com.