Brittany Flaherty admits that, when it comes to dancing, the stereotypes are true.
“They make reality shows like Dance Moms because it does happen. There’s a lot of drama sometimes at dance studios,” she laughed, referencing the reputation for overbearing parents and perfectionism the sport has apparently earned.
Flaherty should know. At 27, she’s a grizzled veteran of the dance circuit. She started taking ballet at five, added modern dance to her repertoire in her early teens, then tacked on jazz before, as she puts it, “really broadening in college.”
She wants her studio to be different though.
While the lanky and toned Temple grad says she expects her Kimberton Dance Academy to boast intensive, attentive instruction, she also wants it to act as a supportive, nurturing environment for its young dancers.
“I want the kids to have the opportunity to dance recreationally, just for fun, or to [learn the skills to] continue to dance moving forward,” she said.
Competition and comfort: a fine line to toe maybe, but Flaherty said she’s seen it done before.
“When I went to the studio [as a child] it was like this home away from home. This second home. I had such a wonderful experience growing up in my dance studio,” Flaherty said of Chester Valley Dance Academy where she learned the craft.
The self-described “bunhead” said she hopes to recreate that experience for another generation. And though her studio is aimed at young dancers, she’s not too concerned about what generation that is.
“We can teach anyone from age three to 93,” she said.
While the academy doesn’t have any nonagenerian students, yet, Flaherty says her older students have, thus far, been among her most passionate.
“The adult students have actually, a lot of them, contacted us to see about coming in for classes. [Now] we have women of all skill levels,” she said.
Flaherty says the classes themselves are equally diverse. In the Franklin Commons unit she and her family outfitted almost entirely on their own, Flaherty has on offer lessons for eight different ability levels of ballet, and a full slate of courses in jazz, tap, modern, hip-hop, lyrical, ballroom, Latin jazz fusion, and adult.
Though Flaherty does much of the teaching in the twin 1,000 and 1,700 square foot studios that comprise the academy, she also has a team of three instructors that shoulder some of the load. This allows her to provide students more individualized attention. She’ll be adding a fourth, a ballroom instructor, in the fall.
“I’ve always wanted to do this, open up a business, ever since I was a girl,” she said as she took a moment to look around her studio and catch her breath this week, more than a month into her opening.
“I am pretty sore though.”