by Kelli Samson for OLY ARTS
Nine years ago, Studio West Dance Academy had two studios, four instructors and one office administrator. Flash forward to this, the company’s 10th season, and to say it’s grown is an understatement. SWDA now has five studios, 15 instructors and six office administrators. Not only that, it now serves three times the number of students as when it opened its doors. Co-owner Mary Cecelia Piper and co-director Stephanie Wood-Ennett have created and maintained a place for young dancers to grow.
“Studio West grew a lot faster than we expected. It’s been a really tremendous and, frankly, at times overwhelming experience to have grown so dramatically in so short a time. Today, Studio West is such a well-oiled machine,” says Wood-Ennett. “I am excited to work with such wonderful dancers, and it’s so gratifying to see some of our dancers emerge into the professional dance world. It’s been a simply wonderful journey.”
Students who’ve been with SWDA since its inception are now enjoying success in the wider world of dance. Explains Loanne Dang, sponsorship and community outreach chair for the Studio West Dance Academy Guild, “We are proud to say we’ve reached a point where we are seeing our students get accepted to prestigious dance programs and transition into dance careers as instructors and dancers with professional companies.”
During its 2017-18 season, Studio West Dance Theater will perform The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland and its annual charity gala, Dance to Make a Difference.
Dance to Make a Difference is not only a charity event, but also provides an enchanting opportunity each year for the community to enjoy an evening of fine food and dance. All proceeds from the annual Dance to Make a Difference gala go to a local charity.
“Meeting the families benefiting from their services has changed me,” explains Dang. “DTMAD connects arts supporters like me to local charities, and it brought the needs of the community to my doorstep. Our young dancers volunteer through the program, and my hope is that we are planting the seeds of
Adds dancer Aly Cadoo, “There is something very fulfilling in volunteering. You know that you can make a difference, even if it’s small, in someone else’s life.”
Studio West Dance Academy is growing in other areas as well. Joining the staff this year are Emily Coello and Joshua Grant. Coello is on the faculty of the Pacific Northwest Ballet School and served as ballet mistress with the City Ballet of San Diego. Grant is a soloist with the Pacific Northwest Ballet who’ll serve as SWDA’s resident guest instructor and choreographer.
Those who saw SWDA’s 2014 production of Alice in Wonderland will be pleased to know the Cheshire Cat will return. He’s 20 feet of pure special effects.
In September, SWDA will celebrate a Decade of Dancing with a special evening event. Join the crowd to help launch Studio West’s tenth season. Festivities include a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, a children’s craft, refreshments, cake, raffles for a month of free classes at Studio West and a $25 gift certificate for our boutique, and the reveal of the new Studio West gallery photo wall.
What: Celebrate a Decade of Dancing with Studio West Dance Academy
Where: Studio West Dance Academy
1025 Black Lake Boulevard SW, Building 3
Olympia, Washington 98502
When: 4 p.m. Thursday, September 7
How much: free
Learn more: 360-956-0378 | Studio West Dance Academy