BWW Featured Studio: Central Park Dance
Central Park Dance (CPD) is a dance studio based just 30 minutes outside of New York City in Westchester County. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Maria Bai and her business and life partner Mario La Strada, CPD prides itself in being committed to cultivating and training dancers to excel in the 21st century. The fall season, of 2017 marks the school's 35th anniversary. The year is full of various programs and events to celebrate this momentous occasion.
CPD started in 1982 with Ms. Bai offering dance classes in ballet, tap, jazz, and creative movement in the basement of the Zion Episcopal Church in Dobbs Ferry, NY- starting with just a few dozen students. While the program was there, Ms. Bai saw a steady increase in attendance and registration. Five years later, Ms. Bai met and married her husband, Mr. La Strada, and decided to partner up and open their own studio at its current location in Scarsdale, NY. Then, CPD had one studio, a small boutique, and big plans. Today, CPD has four state-of-the-art studios serving nearly 2,000 students in 250 classes a week!
The studio offers many different classes that have been designed by Ms. Bai with close attention to a child's mental and physical development. The ages are broken up for one's proper growth and technique. Their most popular program is the children's "fairy tale ballet" program for children ages 2 to 6. That alone is offered four times a day, seven days a week! They also have a robust adult program full of open classes in various styles such as ballet, tap, hip hop, contemporary, and fitness classes in belly dancing, jazzercise, and the barre method.
As part of their youth program, they have an elite program geared for those who want to study dance more intensely and join their Signature Dance Company. Here, students are accepted through auditions starting at the age of eight. In addition to having a minimum of two classes per week, they get their headshots done, work with special guest choreographers, and have the opportunity to participate in a number of performances. There is also a hip hop dance company called Remixx. Many students have gone on to have successful careers in dance and can be seen in commercial dance, Broadway shows such as Cats, or major dance companies including New York City Ballet and the Jose Limon Dance Company. Others have jobs and careers outside the arts, but are very successful and articulate adults. Th studio also has a pretty impressive line up of faculty members with extensive resumes.
CPD prides itself in being a place that is always available to the community. They have classes seven days a week, occasionally have master classes and workshops by special guest artists, and offer holiday dance camps during major school breaks. A lot of thought and effort has gone into the curriculum to truly train and prepare students for the future in a way that ensures all receive a well-rounded dance education.
Another key element and focus to the studio is that everyone is special. Everyone is important. It's very important to Ms. Bai that no matter where students are in the program, they receive the best attention to reach their full potential. CPD also wants to make dance accessible to all. We all know that dance can be an expensive hobby. That is why CPD gives scholarships to their students and offers classes that are an hour and a half long to students at no extra charge. They also donate dancewear to underserved communities.
CPD is a special dance studio with a lot to give and offer. It is truly a place you come in and leave as one ready to conquer the world whether in the dance field or in another line of work. I praise all that Ms. Bai and Mr. La Strada have created and nurtured over the past 35 years and here is to another 35!
To learn more about Central Park Dance classes, youth companies, performances, or registration, please visit their website at www.centralparkdance.com.