By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce helped the Grand Island Dance Center celebrate what studio owner and director Rachel Novelli called "almost a complete overhaul of the space we already had."
The chamber, Novelli, her teachers and students held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday to open their remodeled studio at 2407 Grand Island Blvd., which has changed from floor to ceiling, front to back.
"Anytime we see investment in a Grand Island facility, it's a positive," said Eric Fiebelkorn, Grand Island Chamber of Commerce president. "This just makes it one more cut above and makes it feel more like what we deserve here on Grand Island and what we expect, which is world-class facilities along with our world-class instruction. We appreciate Grand Island Dance in stepping up and doing that for us."
"The biggest thing, the most important thing, is we got sprung floors, which is really, really nice for us," Novelli said. The floors cushion the impact of jumps and make dancing easier on the knees and ankles.
"They're jumping and now when they're landing they have some bounce," Novelli said of her dancers.
Not to be overlooked is a remodeled back room where the dancers can study in their down time. "They were all over the floor spread out with their books and papers," Novelli said of her students. The space problem illustrated that the dancers aren't going to dance class to get away from their school work, they're learning at GI Dance how to manage their time to get more done, which Novelli called one of myriad reasons parents should enroll children in dance classes.
The reasons for taking dance classes go beyond the physical.
"There are so many," Novelli said of the benefits of dance. "The same things they get at (sports), they get here. Teamwork; especially for the little ones, the gross motor and fine motor skills; learning how to listen, pay attention and follow instruction, which is half the battle."
Novelli said teachers can tell the difference in attitude and attention span between kids who have danced and those who have not.
"It's a learned skill. It's not something that they're just born with. They have to be taught," Novelli said. GI Dance takes students as young as 2.
While GI Dance has a new studio, what Novelli said she doesn't have is what she called the "magic teacher or magic potion."
"You have to put in the time and the work, so you always feel that sense of accomplishment, which is so important," Novelli said. The
"They get great instruction via a loving, instructive environment. It takes both," said Fiebelkorn, who is not only the chamber president, but a parent of a student at GI Dance. "It's hard to keep all these kids in line and I always admire how friendly yet firm they are. They give the girls really great direction and it takes a good coach and a mentor and someone who cares about them to do that. When we leave our kids here, we know they're in really good care."
Kayla Fyfe, manager of Grand Island Dance, started as a 7-year-old student of Novelli. She said the studio has a "good core group of teachers" that includes Nicole Koerntgen, Samantha Testa, Julie Traver, Laura Brodie, Keirsten Grimes, Elaina Bolles and Christina Caruso. GI Dance also has Kathy Abbondanza as well, who has 55 years of experience teaching dance.
"We're growing," Fyfe said, of the school, not just of its new space, but of added classes day.
"I'm excited to get back, excited for everyone to see it," Fyfe said of the new rooms. "I feel like only a portion of our studio has actually seen it so far. We're still finishing up on a couple little touches.
"I'm ready to dance."