It’s out with the old and in with the new on Madison Street. Oak Park’s Intuit Dance Studio is opening a second location in the space formerly held by Flex & Pointe Dance, at 7515 Madison St. The new location will open on Sept. 6.
Fall classes will start immediately, and there will be courses for children, teens and adults. Intuit will be holding an open house from Sept. 6-9 to celebrate its expansion; it will offer a promotion discounting classes to $5 at the event.
The Oak Park location has been in business for nearly five years in the village’s arts district, owner Diane VanDerhei said. When she first moved to Oak Park in 2003, she taught dance in public schools. The studio began in 2006, when VanDerhei decided to strike out on her own, with a unique curriculum that she didn’t see in other programs in the area.
Students in her studio don’t simply study moves and routines. They are taught the history of dance, improvisation, and the creative process. They learn both the technique and the skills to develop their own dance compositions and to dance in those of others.
VanDerhei believes dance is a great way to teach kids because it engages their imagination.
Classes for kids and teens include instruction in ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap, and contemporary dance. Performance workshops are also available. Teenagers also get the option of fitness, world dance, and Pilates classes. These are all offered to adults, as well.
“Dance is such a great tool for kids because they naturally love to move,” VanDerhei said. She believes the art-form helps them develop mentally, emotionally and socially.
She says her team of dance instructors will be joined by a few new faces, but the original teachers were able to bolster their hours to cover the expanded class load.
Her instructors boast some impressive resumes. They include Yael Levitin, an award-winning Israeli-native ballerina and Columbia College faculty member who has danced for the Lyric Opera and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Elisa Montalvo recently worked as assistant choreographer and lead dancer for Oprah’s Season 24 Kickoff Party and currently attends the University of Chicago, where she studies mathematics and economics. VanDerhei herself holds a B.F.A. in dance and dance education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; she also developed dance curriculum for Kindergarten though high school students in Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago.
VanDerhei attributes her success to her following, and the parents who send their kids to learn dance at her studio. Even in these hard economic times, this is one area where parents don’t seem to want to cut back.
“They can see the rewards,” she said. “I think they know how important it is to their children.”
This following has allowed her to expand to Madison Street, a deal which Anthony Gamez, a 10-year agent for Oak Park commercial real estate company David King & Associates, said was finalized before the original tenants were out the door.
While Gamez said this is not the norm, he added that some spaces move quicker than others. VanDerhei admits she had to move quickly to take advantage of the great opportunity. “It was a win-win and I knew I had to move.”
Gamez said that there are few vacancies on Madison Street, which he attributes to the abundance of foot traffic in the thriving business district. VanDerhei lists this as among her reasons for choosing the location, adding the convenient drive from surrounding towns and ample nearby parking to the list. The new studio will offer easier access to her services for kids from Maywood, River Forest, and of course, Forest Park.
“I like the energy of the street, the feel of the merchants,” she said, adding that it has a different feel from the Oak Park arts district.