Local dance school expands to theater

July 1, 2011 Heather Chin
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Lauren Perilli-McElroy was just two years old when she decidedthat she wanted to dance. Her mother enrolled her in classes atDimensions In Dance, Brooklyn’s Premiere Dancing School, now onThird Avenue at 76th Street, and the native Bay Ridge residentthrived on the lessons and attention from her teacher, PatriciaMcGuire, a professional dancer, who had started the studio a fewyears earlier, in 1980, in her native Bensonhurst.

In the 26 years since those first jazz and tap steps were taken,Perilli-McElroy grew up, studying at Poly Prep, participating – andwinning – national dance competitions, joining NYU’s prestigiousCAP-21 Musical Theatre program, and immersing herself in classicaltheatre, stage combat and acting at Boston University. But for allof her journeys, McElroy kept coming home to Dimensions In Dance,teaching classes for a new generation of young artists and becomingco-director with McGuire.

Now she has spread her wings again, to an adjacent storefront at7601 Third Avenue, with the opening of Dimensions On Stage, whichwill build on the dance legacy of its sister studio to bringacting, singing and a stage component to lessons for Brooklyn youthand adults.

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I always wanted to work with kids, to have a creative outlet,and to have the space to open a dance studio and dance all day.Sharing that with kids, is a dream come true, saidPerilli-McElroy, 28. Dancing and acting is all I’ve ever wanted todo.

Dimensions On Stage celebrated its grand opening on Sunday, June26, with an open house for prospective students and families,followed by an open mic talent night where current student dancersperformed on the same stage as a Broadway veteran and theBrooklynONE Youth Ensemble.

It was fabulous. People sang songs and did monologues, saidthe newly minted director. The students couldn’t wait to get up.Kids who I didn’t know could sing, sang amazingly. [That interestand talent is why] we’re having a ‘Glee’-inspired summer series forteens.

One can easily imagine how, walking into the studio for thefirst time, a child – or child-at-heart – can become enchanted bythe open, airy and inviting studio space. There are pitchers offresh flowers in each windowsill, inspirational quotes fromplaywrights and authors painted on the wall, and a red velvetcurtain pulled back with golden tassels that dramatically framesthe elegant black-and-white themed foyer and the performance space,which has a small dressing room in the back.

Shows like ‘Glee’ and ‘American Idol’ have put the performingarts on the map, making it cool to be involved in theatre, saidPerilli-McElroy. When I was in school, it was very segregated.[Our programs] are about connecting with the students, being apositive influence on them. Kids are not afraid to be ridiculousand silly, but adults have to let their guard down.

In addition to the High School Theatre Series summer camp for11 to 17-year-olds, Dimensions On Stage will be holding aCurtain’s Up Mini-Camp for children age four to seven, and aBroadway In Brooklyn camp where seven to 13-year-olds canpractice the basics of singing, acting and dancing with fun, weeklythemes. All camps culminate with a show for friends and family. Thestart of summer classes is July 5.

The adult summer program, A Mid-Summer Night’s Scene, will be onMondays, July 11 through August 8.

Regular semesters will begin in the fall, for students age fourand up, including adults. The space will also host local talentnights to celebrate the gifts of residents.

We’re excited to be part of this community. It needs somethinglike this [because] even though we have so many arts programs [insouthern Brooklyn], we’re not very public about it and there’s nota lot of recognition for groups, she said. We hope to put BayRidge on the map, artistically.

Dimensions On Stage

7601 Third Ave

Brooklyn, NY 11209-3165

(718) 238-0668

[email protected]


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