Annemarie’s Dance Centre celebrates 45 years of business in Ashland
By Christie Vogt
Thousands of dancers have called Annemarie’s Dance Centre their home away from home since its founding in 1977 by Annemarie Fairhurst. As the center celebrates its 45th anniversary, current studio owner and director Chrissy Reynolds reflects on how integral Ashland and surrounding communities have been to the studio’s mission.
“Anne and I share a similar value system,” says Reynolds, who purchased the studio in 2013 after 10 years as an instructor. “We both think the relationship we foster with the community is integral to the studio’s success and the success of the students.”
Annemarie’s Dance Centre offers instruction in ballet, modern/contemporary, jazz, tap, musical theater jazz, pointe, creative movement and hip hop. “We are not a competitive studio, and that is the way I prefer to go,” Reynolds says, “because I feel that we focus more on the artistic process rather than the victory. So it’s not about students winning or losing through performance, it’s about connecting with their community audience experience.”
The studio’s Performance Company dancers, in particular, have ample opportunities for community engagement, Reynolds says. In the fall, the company will be part of the Dragonfly Festival, the farmer’s market and a benefit concert in Holliston. The studio also has a relationship with the Layla Lynn Bober Memorial Foundation of Framingham which supports organizations that Layla Bober participated in. Bober loved dancing at Annemarie’s, and the family now offers several scholarships in her memory to help students with financial barriers as well as graduating seniors.
The studio offers a variety of class times for working families in hopes of making the decision to dance an easier one. It offers classes seven days a week with additional class times added for the youngest dancers during weekday afternoons and Saturdays.
With a variety of programs available to residents of Ashland and surrounding towns, Reynolds contends that dance is a particularly unique extracurricular option. “Dance provides a creative outlet while also providing physical activity,” Reynolds says, “which I think is important, especially with so many students tied to their phones.”
Dance is also a way for students who aren’t comfortable expressing themselves verbally to express themselves physically, she adds. “I’ve seen students come through the door that might be a little bit shy or have a hard time talking to you,” Reynolds explains. “But when they’re dancing, they feel more comfortable. It’s an additional way to express yourself.”
Another benefit of dance is its ability to expand students’ perspectives of the world, Reynolds says. She shares the example of a student who participated in a hip hop intensive offered by a visiting instructor from UMass Amherst. The student, who does not live in a particularly diverse community, approached the teacher to say he opened her eyes to how big the dance world is. She was inspired to write her college essay on her experience in the class.
“Dance has the possibility of doing something like that — exposing students to different cultures and backgrounds where dance becomes the shared language spoken,” Reynolds reflects. “Through the commonality of dance, you connect with someone you may not have without it.”
Registration is now open for fall dance classes, which begin on Sept. 7. For more information, visit annemariesdance.org or call 508-881-5109. The studio is located at 111 Cherry St., Ashland.