After starting six years ago in Riverside, Principle Dance studio has expanded to the Forest Park Mall, 7610 Roosevelt Road.

“I wanted a location that was easy to get to with tons of parking,” said founder Heather Overbeca, who has taught ballet in Illinois and Austin, Texas.

Saturday’s grand opening celebration was filled with balloons, tutus and tulle. Children learned how to perform the grand jeté leap with beginning ballet teacher Nell Heflin, while their parents Zumba-ed in the studio next door.

The 3,800-square-foot studio has two brand new dance rooms, each with a video monitor for waiting parents to observe classes. Each year the studio performs a presentation of the Nutcracker cast from both advanced and beginner classes, Overbeca said.

“We want students to be familiar with the tradition of The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s music, and the history of the ballet. We’ll be performing in the Hauser Jr. High auditorium in Riverside this year,” she said. Rehearsals start soon.

“Anyone enrolled in Pre-Ballet II or higher is invited to participate.” The school offers a summer original dance program.

Overbeca said they welcome beginners or recreational dancers as well as dancers who aspire to dance in college. “We have [dancers] on track for that. They receive scholarships for college dance programs. Our modern, jazz and ballet programs feed into the college dance level,” she said. Serious students also move on to the Salt Creek Ballet.

The school will present an interactive performance for preschoolers at the Forest Park Public Library, on Oct. 3.

Overbeca said the success of the school has surprised her. “I opened my business because I wanted to teach the way I wanted to teach, and to have all the teachers follow a set, ordered curriculum. Parents and students reacted to that and we just expanded,” she said.

“The school is much bigger than I thought it was going to be. The business has a life of its own, and I’m hanging on as it’s pulling me along.”

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...