NORTH TONAWANDA — Things have been hopping — literally — at Project 308 Gallery in North Tonawanda for a little over a month now all thanks to dance instructor Vanessa Oswald.
Oswald is a full-time journalist, but spends most of her free time teaching a series of dance classes — everything from breakdancing to jazz — as part of the Danceamour program at the art gallery. It’s an interdisciplinary approach to using the space that gallery owner Natalie Brown said was her plan all along.
“I want it to be a space for multimedia arts, anything from painting to dancing to any kind of art form you can think of,” Brown said of the gallery, which opened in August on Oliver Street.
Oswald said she was looking to rent out a full dance studio to teach classes when Brown approached her about using the gallery. The dance instructor was looking to offer low-pressure, inexpensive classes for people who didn’t want to make the commitment required by most dance studios.
“A lot of people are in work or in college, and I wanted to offer classes that are less of a committment and more personal,” Oswald said. “I was teaching at two studios last year and I noticed how much unnecessary money the students have to spend on costumes and recital fees and I thought it was so dumb.”
Unique about the classes is the way they’re broken down into a three-week cycle.
“I teach one main routine for three weeks and then we start a new one, so if someone can’t come for a few weeks they can always start up with a new routine,” next time, Oswald said.
Janelle Sciarrino, a student in the beginning modern and jazz classes, said in her experience, even if you miss the first class in a three-week cycle, there’s still time to catch up ... even if you’re a dancing newbie.