From a happening hip hop class to a graceful ballet troupe, Center Stage Performing Arts teaches classes in all areas of dance, performance, voice and piano in its new location at 1233 Roosevelt Trail, next to the Raymond Post Office. In its 11th year, owner Beth Gaudet feels like she’s hitting her stride. They teach over 200 dancers with seven instructors, some of whom dance in other companies like the Maine State Ballet.
“This area needed something for the kids to do after school,” Gaudet said about why she started the studio.
The new location opened November 1, with two large dance rooms, changing facilities and a big waiting room for parents. The sprung floor and the Marley floor were brought from their old location and installed in the new rooms. The floors are specially made for dancers.
Students range in age from a 2-year-old ballerina to a 75-year-old hip hop artist. The school is not a competition studio. “We have a team (Project Dance), but they do their other things too,” Gaudet said. The students travel from Bridgton, Naples, Poland, Portland, and of course, Windham and Raymond.
Some dancers take classes between five and 12 hours a week, while others only take one class a week. Most dedicated dancers go on to dance in college, like Gaudet’s daughter who dances for a performance cheering team. A good dancer, however, is not necessarily the most technically proficient, but “someone who will dance with anybody regardless of level,” said Gaudet.
The studio holds one recital per year at the Windham Performing Arts Center at Windham High School.
Gaudet works closely with the owner of Studio for the Living Arts in Gray, often putting on fundraisers together. “Without her studio, I would not be where I am,” Gaudet said. After 10 years, Gaudet is ready for the better visibility that the new location offers, plus she added, “the parents and dancers deserve a new space.”
Right now, Gaudet’s tap dance classes, her favorite, are filled with students from Windham High School as they prepare for a performance of “42nd Street” a year from now.
Drama games and acting exercises fit together with the expression that dancers need. “They practice facial expressions so when they’re on stage they can be someone else,” said Gaudet.
Piano and voice lessons are offered at people’s homes. “We cater to homeschoolers,” said Gaudet.
Dee Dee St. Peter offers Zumba five days a week for a $5 drop-in fee. Yoga is offered on Sunday and Monday mornings and the space can be rented for dance birthday parties, baby showers or rent-a-princess parties.
New performers are invited to take two free dance classes regardless of age or ability. If residents have a Jordan-Small Middle School coupon book, there is a coupon for one month of free classes.
For more information, visit www.centerstagepa.com, visit them on Facebook or call 207-807-7405.