Dance academy

Opening of a new dance academy in Salem

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The En L’Air Dance and Acrobatics Academy strives to create a fun environment for all ages.



Most people would balk at the thought to open a new business in the midst of a global pandemic that only happens once in a generation, especially a performing arts business, but Arianne Thompson, from Bristol, Tennessee, is not not like most people.

Last fall, she launched the En L’air Dance and Acrobatics Academy in Salem with the goal of providing quality dance education designed to give each student a solid, technical foundation in an environment that nurtures creativity and fun for all ages and levels.

Thompson, a graduate of Radford University’s dance program, says her 11 years of experience teaching dance prepared her to take charge of her career by opening her own academy.

“I’ve been dancing since I was little and I like to perform, but I value teaching more than performance,” she says.

As for why she chose Salem, Thompson explains that she realized there was a need for an academy like hers in the city after the School of Dance and Performing Arts closed. Miss Mona in 2019.

“I regularly hear people say they’re thrilled there’s a studio that offers a wide range of classes for dancers,” she says.

Although it has managed to amass 40 students and garner community support since its opening, Thompson points out that the first two months have not been without challenges.

“It was difficult, but we managed to make things work,” she explains. “Teaching practices have definitely changed. I adapted the space to allow for more separate teaching. I also kept all class sizes small.

Currently, the academy offers courses in ballet, jazz, acrobatics, hip-hop and modernity.

In addition to running his own academy, Thompson teaches at the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts. She also holds a graduate degree in speech therapy.


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