RUTLAND — Fourteen years ago, the owner of Just Dance Vermont Studio, Ana Araguas, moved to Rutland. A professional ballerina and off-Broadway dancer, she taught her first dance class for the Rutland Recreation Department at the former Dana School.
“Now, things have come full circle for me, with the re-location of my dance studio, Just Dance Vermont, to the newly renovated Dana Center at 41 East Center Street,” Araguas said. “The studio I had before was too small for the expansion of classes I want to provide for young people and adults.”
The new studio consists of two rooms, each 840 square feet, one for dance and the other for fitness.
Dance has been an integral part of Araguas’ life since she was a youngster growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When she was 10 years old, her family no longer had the financial resources for dance lessons. Araguas went to her instructor and offered to help her teach. “I taught classes at least three times a week and in turn received free dance lessons.”
Araguas studied more than 12 years to become a dance teacher, including classes at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. Close to 2,000 students apply to Teatro Colon and only 20 are accepted. There, she learned dance performance, the history of dance and French, the language of dance.
“Teatro Colon is similar to the American Ballet Theatre in New York City,” she said. “After studying and teaching in Buenos Aires, I made my way to NYC.” There she taught close to 200 students under the umbrella of L.A. Dance Studio. The classes were made up of established dancers and students auditioning to get into a conservatory or a dance company. After Sept. 11 and the destruction of the World Trade Center, Araguas moved to Vermont. For a number of years, she commuted back and forth to New York, and continued teaching for L.A. Dance Studio. But eventually decided she needed to focus on her life and work in Vermont.
Running a small dance studio in a rural area is a challenge financially. To support that, she started another business, Ana’s Empanadas, to provider her with the basis for financial stability. She has a catering business and sells her empanadas at four different farmers’ markets. She’s been doing this for nine years, and is the sole employee.
Her work at Just Dance Studio Vermont is her passion, however. She said, “At my dance studio, we value integrity, hard work and professionalism, while still having fun helping people of all ages reach their full potential as they learn the art of dance and improve their health through fitness and exercise.”
Recalling her own experiences as a young dancer, she tries to remove financial obstacles for students.
“I offer the opportunity for students to take lessons without a financial burden. That’s why my studio has scholarship auditions,” Araguas said. “This year, I also plan to offer reduced rates for children whose parents are in the military.”
Classes offered at Just Dance Vermont include ballet and pointe, tap, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, tango, salsa, fitness, yoga, Pilates and a variety of others. Other classes offered are dance therapy for children with developmental disabilities. Students are welcome to attend the classes from age 3 and up. The hip-hop team, which includes Araguas’ 9-year-old son, Nico Ditursi, has won several competitions and participants have received individual awards. Salsera, a Latino fitness workout, is offered Tuesdays at 6 p.m. This class includes dances such as salsa, merenge, bachata cumbia and zamba.
Kristen Hixon, assistant to Araguas, and a student at the school, said, “ Both my two daughters and myself have been taking dance lessons for years. Ana’s approach is different. She’s created a supportive family within her school. Her philosophy is for people to work hard to achieve their goals, but they should love what they do and have fun.”
Aruguas also offers classes taught in Spanish, dance lessons for couples, and private lessons.
There will be an open house and registration on Saturday, July 29, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Sunday, July 30, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; and Monday, July 31, from 5 to 7 p.m. A free dance class and scholarship audition for ballet class will follow each session. Dancers interested in becoming teachers at the studio are also invited to attend the free classes. A second open house will be held Saturday, Aug. 26.
Contact Just Dance Vermont at 802-342-2084 or on the web at www.justdancevt.net