In a world of Dance Moms reality TV programming and highly competitive dance schools, Cindy Raffel is looking to offer a less cutthroat approach to teaching dance.
Raffel's 2nd Street Studio of Dance, opening May 18 at 100 E. 2nd St. in downtown Rochester, offers non-competitive dance instruction for both aspiring and accomplished dancers of all ages.
"We wanted to make a safe place for everybody to dance," Raffel said. "You won't be judged."
Even the adult classes, Raffel said, will range from beginners to advanced dancers.
Raffel, who worked in Florida as a professional dancer in ballet contemporary companies, took over the spacious former Rochester Avon Recreation Authority (RARA) building, a facility already equipped for dance, in downtown Rochester. She and her husband renovated the space themselves to suit the studio's all-ages audience.
Given its downtown location, Raffel said local dancers will participate in the area's many events and festivals throughout the year, offering dancers an opportunity to perform for an audience without the high-stakes competitiveness that might accompany other studios' performances and recitals.
In December, Raffel said, the studio will present a jazzed-up Nutcracker with some unexpected twists.
For those more serious about pursuing dance, Raffel said the studio will offer a college prep program for advanced dancers.
"We'll prepare them for what dance is like beyond the studio," she said.
The key, Raffel said, is to make dance accessible to everyone.
"We want to provide a safe place, a happy environment," Raffel said.