If you're looking for a place to learn just about any kind of dance, the Creative Dance Center in Chantilly has it. The studio offers 125 different classes — ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern, lyrical, Poms, musical theater — in five studios, running for five hours, five days a week.
The staff has been quite busy preparing for a dance competition and a version of "The Nutcracker Suite" designed for a younger audience.
The center’s competition team, which consists of around 115 girls and boys between the ages of 4 and 18, practice in a variety of styles and have won multiple awards on the regional and national levels. A pair of choreographers from Las Vegas has even helped with the training.
The team will also perform at the International Children’s Festival at Wolf Trap on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 2 p.m.
"Kids get a charge out of competing," said Ramona Batchelder, the center’s owner, adding that all of the children on the competition team are Honor Roll students. "They’re very focused and organized."
Batchelder started the Creative Dance for Children program in 1983, teaching dance techniques at childcare centers and preschools in northern Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia Beach. Later, she opened the first Creative Dance Center in Chantilly in 1986 and then another in Ashburn last year. She and the dance center’s staff are coming up on the Chantilly location’s 25th anniversary in January.
"Nutcracker in a Shell: All Jazzed Up" will be a shorter and more upbeat version of "The Nutcracker Suite" designed to maintain the interest of children.
"It’s by children, for children," said Ginny Frye, director of the dance center. "Children love to see other children perform."
According to Frye, the performance lasts about one hour and 20 minutes and all children who audition get a role.
"We always find a role for them," she said. "We want them to have an opportunity to perform."
Props for such production pieces are built by the fathers of the children and the families pay for the costumes.
They also started an after-school program in which they pick up children from different elementary schools in Chantilly and transport them back to the studio for lessons. Frye compared this to what karate schools do, but said it is a new concept for dance studios.
"I don’t know of any other dance studios who have done it," she said.
This fall, they are also starting a program called "ABC, 123… Fit 4 Me." Starting Sept. 12, this will include 90-minute classes in five-week sessions that will teach preschool readiness skills for children between the ages of 3 and 4.
Despite the busy schedule, they are still actively working with kids.
"They will dance any chance you give them," Frye said.