Durante’s dance studio may have new owners and a new name, but the mission and vision remain much the same: to provide all young people with 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 back in Holyoke.
When the Sterling studio first opened there were only 45 students enrolled, but the number has increased each year and at one point there were as many as 221 children enrolled.
“Kids always come first for me and that includes having fun, if they’re not having fun they won’t be there. The last thing I ever wanted was for a child to leave. ‘here sad or crying for some reason, because he couldn’t take a step or he misunderstood something that was said,’ Finley said.
“That’s one of the things that’s really important to Angie and me is that sometimes there’s this misnomer that if you’re having really exceptional dance training, it has to be really serious and strict and you can’t have fun and we really strongly believe, 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,” Lynch said.
Pomeroy, who was born and raised in Sterling, has taught dance for 18 years in the Front Range and owned a studio at Highlands Ranch, along with a business partner. She met Lynch, who also has extensive experience in the dance industry, when they were both dance students at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.
Wanting to move back 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 that point Lynch and her husband, who is from Sterling, decided they wanted to settle here too.
“I always knew I wanted to own a dance studio and just being able to give back to the community I grew up in was hugely important to me,” Pomeroy said.
So when she decided to return to Sterling, she made sure to reach out to 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 started thinking 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 long-time friends did not hesitate and last spring they took possession of the studio.
“Angie and I have talked casually 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’s got some really great families here, a lot of really loyal families and a really solid foundation that we can build on. So it was an easy decision for us.
“And we’re really lucky because he’s always there and always involved when we need help or seek advice, we’re really lucky that he made himself as available to us as he was. done,” Pomeroy added.
Finley will continue to teach at the NDA when needed and he also continues to teach at Candy’s Dance Academy in Brush and Fort Morgan.
“For me, one of the benefits is coming back the following year and my seniors come back to say hello and they want to take my course. I want every child to leave here no matter when they choose to move on. , that he still loves what we did. I’ve met too many kids and adults that once they’re done dancing, they’re done, it doesn’t have to be like that,” he said.
For all three, teaching dance is not a job, it is something they are passionate about and they want to share this with the children and help them develop this same love of dance.
“There are a lot of kids, especially in a more rural community, who lack a really focused, well-informed training and I think that’s one of the things that’s so important to us, that’s that we are constantly working to stay up to date and knowledgeable about what is happening in the dance industry, so that we can provide our children with relevant and accurate training, but without ever compromising this fun and healthy environment”, Lynch said.
NDA offers courses for children from 2 to 18 years old; they also previously had adult classes and hope to do so again.
The creative movement is offered to children aged two to three. Lynch explained that the class for two-year-olds is a very specialized class using a curriculum that she and Pomeroy put together that is unique to their studio. It is very specific to age-appropriate development and also classroom readiness.
A ballet and tap combo is offered for children aged six and under, hip hop/acro for children aged five to seven, then at seven years old, students switch to an hour of the same genre – ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop , pom or acro for dancers, which is Pomeroy and Lynch’s unique take on specialized acrobatic movements for dance.
“Rather than trying to teach them to tumble arbitrarily, we really focus on the acrobatic skills that they’re going to use in choreographing a dance. So it’s very different from your power tumbling or your gymnastics,” Lynch said.
One of their goals is to get students on stage as much as possible, at least four times a year. Contrary to the trend that dance studio owners cannot be arranged, 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 it’s just an opportunity to continue that, it’s like what more can we do to get kids in front of people as often as possible” , said Lynch.
With that in mind, they will participate in the Logan County Fair Parade on August 7.
At this time, NDA is in the midst of a full summer schedule and has been offering camps and classes all summer. These sessions will run through August and fall classes will begin September 7th. Although the NDA has yet to register for the fall, approximately 125 children have already registered.
They’re also looking to sign people up for their “Sterling Community Nutcracker Remix,” which will premiere December 18-19. All ages and skills are welcome and the performance is open to the community, you don’t have to be a student at the studio to participate. All dance styles will be included and no experience is necessary.
Casting will take place Saturday, September 11 at NDA, 215 N. Second Street, 9-9:30 a.m. for ages 6 and under, 9:45-10:15 a.m. for ages 7-10, 10:30 a.m. at the age of 11. morning for 11-13 year olds and from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. for 14 year olds and over.
For those wishing to enroll in classes, NDA welcomes both girls and boys; in fact they have been delighted to see an increase in the number of boys coming to the studio, especially younger boys and for high school students enrolled in sports they will work with you so you can find a way to make the of them.
“I used to train customer service people for a long time and say ‘you have to find a way to say yes’ and that’s one of the things we really care about, we’re here to figure out how we make dance a yes for you, how can we figure out how to make the band and the sport and the dance work so that the dance is always a yes for you,” Lynch said.
“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’ll work with you to figure it out,” Pomeroy added.
Coming from customer service, 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 text the two ladies with questions; and they are also willing to meet in person at the studio to address any concerns or questions parents may have.
The NDA provides “scholarships,” which Finley also did, which is simply to help where someone needs it. For example, if a student can afford dance clothes, they will pay for it.
“Even to this day, even though I’m not a landlord, if there’s a kid I know who can’t afford clothes or tuition, I’ll pay them and those ladies. Because there’s always has 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 be enrolled in a class.
“There’s so much going on here, we’re constantly changing everything that needs to be done to accommodate the community, so that more and more kids have the ability to dance,” Finley said.
Pomeroy and Lynch also spoke to the RE-1 Valley School District about helping with RE’s mentorship program and mentoring any student who is interested in dance, and they’ve reached out to local preschools about offering lessons. in their school so that students do not do it. have to miss the dance simply because their parents can’t take them to the studio every week.
Additionally, they met with the Logan County Arts League, hoping to become more involved in the community and the arts.
“We want dance to be accessible to everyone. Growth is our number one goal for sure; we want as many kids who want to dance to be able to dance as much as possible,” Pomeroy said.
For more information about the dance studio, call 970-580-7142 or visit their website, www.northeasterndanceacademy.com.