For Keystone Ballet Academy owner Emily Finer, the ability to expand her dance studio in stages but remain in the same location at the CAN BE Innovation Center has been an integral part of its success since opening in 2017.
Finer said that CAN BE has been an ideal location to start her studio because it has offered her the ability to expand when it fit the needs of her growing studio without having to move to a bigger location each time.
“Knowing I could expand where I am already located is ideal. My customer base is familiar with my existing location and the expansion will allow us to grow within a reasonable budget. As we acquire more students and have an increase in our classes, we will be able to move to a space that will really suit us and our students,” Finer said. “We are so fortunate to have access to additional space within the CAN BE Innovation Center, allowing our school to grow. From the beginning, I envisioned our growth here.”
Keystone Ballet Academy is adding just under 900 square feet to its space, more than doubling the studio size to roughly 1,400 square feet. Finer said the additional space will allow for convenient class scheduling for current and future customers. In addition to having the space to grow, Finer stated that working with CAN DO Director of Economic Development Jocelyn Sterenchock has helped her to feel more comfortable as she’s grown her business.
“Owning a business, running a business, growing a business, and basing this all on a vision can be overwhelming. Jocelyn gives my business an outsider prospective, and she has an interest in seeing my business succeed. With her help, I was able to gain a better understanding on what is needed to make my vision grow and the right time to do it,” Finer said. “Jocelyn is a great resource and has the knowledge to help a business owner understand their needs. Talking over expansion plans helped me realize that I was ready to take this next step and CAN BE having the space available made it possible.”
Keystone Ballet Academy currently has nearly 100 students and continues to welcome new students each week. The studio offers classical ballet training with other dance styles offered as electives, allowing students the ability to increase their exposure to training that is integral to the classical ballet repertoire.
Last fall, Keystone Ballet Academy added elementary tap (ages 5-8), beginner tap (ages 9-13) and teen/adult tap (ages 13 and up) programs.
This fall, the studio will add a new class called Progressing Ballet Technique, which Finer describes as “an innovative body-conditioning and strengthening program that has been designed to enhance students' technique in all styles of dance and is taught by a certified instructor, our very own, Brittany Lopo.”
Keystone Ballet Academy will also expand its ballet program this fall to include Character Dance, which is a stylized representation of a traditional folk or national dance. The dance types will include czardes (a traditional Hungarian folk dance), mazurka (a lively Polish dance in triple time), and tarantella (a group of various Italian folk dances characterized by a fast, upbeat tempo accompanied by tambourines), and flamenco (a style of spirited, rhythmical dance based on the various folkloric and music traditions of southern Spain). Students from the studio have been performing a traditional tarantella dance at the Hazleton UNICO Italian Festival every fall for the past several years.
Finer is also starting a Teacher Assistant program at the studio, where qualified students will have the opportunity to work with an instructor and learn teaching assistant skills as well as workplace experience.
As Keystone Ballet Academy has grown and expanded over the past four years, Finer said it’s been a wonderful experience to welcome children of all ages and adults into the studio. “It has been a lot of fun (offering adult ballet classes)! We are seeing people who always wanted to ballet dance and who danced as children enjoying being back in class, because they all continually surprise themselves at what they can do,” she said. “The parents that choose to bring their kids to KBA do so because they appreciate classical dance as an art form and value the tradition of studying classical ballet.”