Ballet academy

On their toes: The owners of the Ballet Academy of Moses Lake share their passion for dance

MOSES LAKE – At the corner of South Beech Street and Third Avenue in Moses Lake, one can usually find foot tapping and dancers twirling inside the studio at the Ballet Academy of Moses Lake.

Co-owners Lacey Schindler and Rian Miles have run The Ballet Academy and High Velocity Dance Company since approximately 2013. Since taking over, the dance studio has continued to grow and expand beyond ballet lessons to offer classes in a variety of dance styles.

Lacey Schindler grew up dancing locally in Moses Lake, training at the Broadway School of the Arts with JoAnn Rashford. While still training as a dancer, Robin Wenrich opened the Moses Lake Ballet Academy in the late 1990s, where Schindler trained for about six years.

Schindler began her planned career as a professional dancer, working with various companies, including the Inland Pacific Ballet. After deciding that politics and other factors in the life of a professional dancer were not for her, she returned home and got married.

When Robin Wenrich left Moses Lake, she asked Schindler if she would be interested in taking over.

“I said ‘Heck no’, I didn’t know anything about running a business,” Schindler said.

After the studio’s next owner stepped down after a few years, Schindler decided to take over as head of the ballet academy in 2007.

Rian Miles grew up dancing on the west side of the state, training in a variety of dance styles. It turns out that one of Miles’ former classmates at a dance studio near Tacoma had a daughter who enrolled with Schindler at the Ballet Academy in Moses Lake.

Miles, who worked with dance companies across the country, came to work with the daughter of his former classmates for a solo performance and ended up giving masterclasses once a month at the studio in town. Schindler stayed in touch with Miles even after she left to perform with a dance troupe in New York during the summer of 2013.

“At the time, that wasn’t what Rian was looking for,” Schindler said. “I told him that if you came back, I would offer you half the deal. She said ‘For how much?’ I told him “For nothing” and to come and build the other half of the company.

Miles decided to take the plunge and within weeks she was opening enrollment for her first set of classes. Schindler focuses more on ballet lessons while Miles focuses more on lyric, jazz, and tap lessons.

From the start, the pair said they tried to overcome some of the “small town mentality” and help the community see the studio’s potential for local dancers.

Schindler said it was difficult at first to involve parents, with children coming to dance at 7 or 8 p.m. Miles said it was a challenge to share the mindset she’s seen working with multimillion-dollar dance companies touring the country.

“It’s hard for them to understand that it’s a thing and realize that it could be something good for your child,” Miles said. “It costs money, it involves a lot of focus, parental involvement, time, effort and energy.”

From the start, Schindler said the academy was a kind of “hidden gem” that people only knew about if they looked for it. The studio was originally near the industrial park on Wheeler Road before moving to the current, more central location across from the Moses Lake Post Office. With the name The Ballet Academy of Moses Lake, she said it took a while for people to see that the studio offers more than ballet.

The studio offers a variety of dance classes ranging from ballet to lyrical, jazz, hip-hop and tap at a variety of different skill levels. Classes start as young as 3 years old through to advanced level classes and competitive teams in the high school age groups.

Miles said the number of lessons a student would take depended on their level, with members of the elite dance team being signed up for around 12 lessons a week.

“Most of the older kids get out of school and come here until 7 or 8 at night,” Schindler said.

The High Velocity Dance Company is a competitive dance team offered through the ballet studio and offering a blend of technical ballet and contemporary jazz and lyrical styles. Dance teams compete across Washington and the Pacific Northwest and try to attend a national level competition every two years.

In addition to the competitions, the academy organizes a few performances each year. Every two years, the studio presents a holiday performance of “The Nutcracker” in addition to ballet and jazz productions in the spring. Late spring and summer are generally devoted to competitions. After production of “The Nutcracker” was canceled last year due to the pandemic, Schindler said the studio was thrilled with this winter’s performance.

The studio was forced into virtual classes and Zoom recordings after the pandemic hit last spring. Schindler said the studio reopened around September with social distancing and face mask protocols in place. She said she felt like people were dying to get back into the studio.

The couple said each year can be scary not knowing how many students they will have coming back in the fall. Coming out of the pandemic, they said they had received a lot of messages and interest from parents and potential students, with the first round of registration scheduled for Thursday from 4-6 p.m.

“This year, I just feel like everyone waited a little longer,” Schindler said. “Usually at that time we get entries in the mail, but now it’s like this flurry of interest. It was interesting, especially with the younger ones.

Miles and Schindler both said they were ready to get back to a normal pace this year and were “ready to smash next year.”

With Today’s Generation Dance Studio and Dance FX, there are a number of options for dance students at Moses Lake. Schindler said there were no issues between the various dance studios competing with each other and everyone seemed to work well together.

She added that some of their ballet students will be taking clogging or tumbling lessons with Toby Black at Dance FX and it’s good to have that compromise possible.

Moving from pursuing professional dance careers to grooming young dancers was an adjustment for Miles and Schindler. Schindler said it was difficult for her at first and she initially had no interest in running her own school.

“I remember I was in a dance company class and I was so mad at the principal because she didn’t give me any corrections,” Schindler said. “I felt like I was being ignored. I was looking at another dancer and in my head I was helping her try to fix things, criticize things, and it just popped into my head. I do the wrong thing.

This is how she agreed to be destined for teaching, she said. Being in Moses Lake with the experience and knowledge she had gained, Schindler said she felt she could teach these small-town kids how to succeed in bigger markets.

Going from being on stage to behind the curtains was also a challenge, but she said it relieved some of the pressure. Being behind the curtains is another kind of pressure, but it’s very fulfilling.

Miles said helping these small-town dancers train so they wouldn’t be afraid to take to the biggest stages in Seattle or New York has been one of his goals as an instructor. . She said she wants dancers to be prepared and know “this is what you need in your back pocket” if they want to dance professionally.

“The biggest part is being a positive role model for these kids, not just in dance,” Miles said. “There are so many kids these days who don’t have that. To be that light for anyone in the community, to say you can do it, you can have a great life even if it’s not through dancing.