P.E., math and history aren’t the only classes starting up again for the fall. At Cottage Dance Academy, the coming school year has dance students of all ages leaping and bounding for joy.
Heidi Mason is the owner of the newly renamed Cottage Dance Academy, at 404 E. Evergreen Blvd., on the grounds of Providence Academy in downtown Vancouver.
Long-time Vancouver residents may remember the studio as Liz Borromeo Dance. Mason’s daughters had been dancers under Borromeo’s tutelage for many years when Borromeo decided to close the studio and leave the area.
Mason knew she couldn’t let a good thing end. So, after Liz Borromeo Dance moved out, Cottage Dance Academy moved in.
Stepping into the field of dance studio management proved to be a whole new world for Mason, as she had no professional dance experience prior to creating the academy earlier this year. However, she had 16 years of experience being the parent of young dancers and had developed a strong sense of what she liked and disliked about her family’s experiences in previous studio settings.
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“It’s very important to me that all our dancers feel welcomed and included,” Mason said. “I want dance to be a positive experience for them. There’s so much joy to be found in this art form.”
Ballet and other classical dance forms are steeped in tradition. An unfortunate side effect of these traditions are rigid expectations for what a dancer should look like. Historically, these expectations have dissuaded many prospective dancers from pursuing the art simply because their bodies do not fit the mold of the traditional ballerina.
“At Cottage Dance Academy, we believe that anyone who wants to dance can and should,” Mason explained. “We believe that students don’t have to look a certain way or have a certain kind of body to dance well. Dance is an experience meant to be shared, so we open our doors to anyone who wants to share in the joy of it.”
Mason and her team of instructors create this culture of positivity and inclusion through their unique curriculum and approach to teaching.
Instead of rigorous schedules and prerequisites, Cottage Dance Academy offers flexible options for dancers to take classes at their own pace while still learning the skills and techniques they’d acquire at more traditional pre-professional or competitive studios.
Cottage Dance Academy offers classes for adults and children as young as 3 and features instruction for each skill level, from beginners to veterans.
Mason is ecstatic to share the art that has been so near and dear to her family. What started as an unfamiliar new challenge has become a passion, one that Mason hopes will continue to grow.
“I feel like Clark County is really experiencing a push for the arts right now,” Mason said. “People are hungry for it. Our world needs the arts now more than ever. It’s something that brings people together and allows us to escape into a beautiful place.”
For those interested in enrolling their children or taking a class for themselves, Cottage Dance Academy will be hosting a registration day open house Aug. 27. More details can be found at www.cottagedanceacademy.com.