By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Amanda Watson, owner of the newly opened Nickel City Dance & Fitness Center in Kenmore, says the driving motto for her studio is flexibility. From drop-in classes for dancers of all levels right down to the very floor the dancers use, everything is flexible here.
“I started (the studio) because I knew there were many former and (aspiring) adult dancers in Western New York searching for a studio that catered to their needs,” she said.
Watson opened the studio, located at 2454 Elmwood Ave., after two months of extensive renovations. The space was previously home to Dawn Marie’s Dance Works, which closed in June.
Nickel City Dance doesn’t look much like its former self. Watson knocked down a wall that divided two separate dance studios so it now features one, large 1,500-square-foot dancing space, freshly painted walls and of course, the one thing Watson seems most proud of: a newly installed sprung floor.
Stepping on the sprung floor, dancers can feel a little give.
“It provides a lot of cushioning so it produces less joint stress, less fatigue and fewer stress fractures,” Watson said. “It’s a lot more gentle on the body.”
Watson traveled to New York City to visit the Broadway Dance Center just to check out their sprung floor.
“For this area, we’re pretty unique,” she said, pointing out that most studios have hardwood or concrete floors.
Also unique is the studio’s flexible, pay-as-you-go schedule. Students don’t need to pay a registration fee or sign a contract to begin classes. There are no recitals or class time-frames, so you can go to a beginner level ballet class for two weeks, switch to a Zumba fitness class for a third week and then back to ballet after.
“We want to make it flexible for people to attend. (Practicing for a recital) can be really hard for people to commit to and if they miss one or two classes they get behind on the choreography and that can be stressful,” Watson said.
“Those days are over for me,” said student Rosie Witschard of recitals. The ballet dancer of over 20 years said she was looking for something catered more toward adults, which is what she found at Nickel City Dance & Fitness Center.
The studio’s model is ideal for adult students and older teenage students who perhaps are unable to commit to a specific weekly class because of an already-hectic schedule, Watson said.
Witschard said she appreciated that there wasn’t a lot of pressure to compete at the studio.
“I was just looking for something that kept my dancing under my belt but at the same time I wasn’t killing myself ... just keeping fit and enjoying dance for what it is,” she said.
The studio also places a particular emphasize on dance as fitness.
Watson, who said she wanted to be a dance teacher since she was a child, was certified in 2006 by the Dance Masters of America Teacher Training Program through University at Buffalo. She’s also certified through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, and is a personal and group fitness trainer.
For her, dance is a fun way to stay fit.
“Dance as fitness is becoming more popular and I think it’s in large part due to shows like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ ” Watson said.
In addition to more typical dance classes like tap, jazz, modern, ballet, hip hop, and leaps and turns, the studio offers fitness-oriented dance sessions in Zumba, ballet booty, pilates, and willPower and grace.
“Dance is really a great form of exercise. You get cardiovascular as well as strengthening benefits,” Watson said. “It strengthens your muscles and bones and it’s a lot of fun so people tend to stick with it more.”
Mary Jo Sobus, one of six instructors at the studio, teaches Zumba classes. She said classes like hers are normally found in gyms, not dance studios.
“We’re trying to bring it more into the studios to make the dancers fitter and stronger,” she said.
“Zumba is classified as a Latin dance exercise program, but in reality people are moving around and having fun and they’re not realizing they’re exercising. It’s the difference between (people saying,) ‘Ugh, I have to go to the gym,’ or ‘I’m going to go to the dance studio and have some fun.’ ”
Nickel City Dance & Fitness Center offers a variety of beginning, intermediate and advanced hour-long classes throughout the week. Students can pay $10 per class, or buy a five- or 10-class card, or an unlimited punch card valid for five weeks.
For more information and a class schedule, visit www.nickelcitydance.com.
Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.IF YOU GO • WHAT: Nickel City Dance & Fitness Center • WHERE: 2454 Elmwood Ave, Kenmore • MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.nickelcitydance.com, or call 712-4623 Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.