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Where fitness and dance fuse

Posted: August 6, 2014 - 11:01pm
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Fusion Dance Company instructor Christa Baxter, left, works with dancers, from left, Jenae Kesey, 15, Ashlee Quirindongo, 13, Rebecca Marx, 13, and Maria Soriano, 17, on technique and form at Pavitt Health and Fitness on Friday, Aug. 1  REBECCA SALSMAN | JUNEAU EMPIRE
REBECCA SALSMAN | JUNEAU EMPIRE
Fusion Dance Company instructor Christa Baxter, left, works with dancers, from left, Jenae Kesey, 15, Ashlee Quirindongo, 13, Rebecca Marx, 13, and Maria Soriano, 17, on technique and form at Pavitt Health and Fitness on Friday, Aug. 1

Fusion Dance Company has been making small appearances around town for several months, but with the opening of a new studio this month the company will be making a full-time appearance in Juneau’s dance scene.

The sister duo, Danielle Ouellette and Christa Baxter, decided to start the company about a year ago after Janice D. Holst announced her retirement.

“Being a loyal dancer of Janice Holst’s, we didn’t want to start a company while she was running her business,” Baxter said. “But it’s been a huge dream since I was young. When I stopped coaching dance team at Juneau Douglas High School, I thought I was done instructing for a while. But parents approached me to start a class for older teens that were just starting off in dance. So, it all began there, with small classes in a fitness center.”

The owners of Fusion Dance have been teaching at Pavitt’s Health and Fitness Center for about a year while they worked on procuring their own facility. The company offers unique classes for teens and adults that combine fitness and dance.

One class, Adult Ballet Fit, combines traditional ballet barre work with exercises commonly performed in Pilates and yoga. The company will also offer more traditional dance classes like jazz, ballet and hip-hop. For a variety of ages the company will also offer the class it has become known for, dance fusion.

“The original fusion class was a prep for potential dance team members,” Ouellette said. “We pulled all kinds of dance styles together to prepare the girls for tryouts. That’s where the name dance fusion came from because we mixed them all together. It’s also where our studio name came from.”

Fusion Dance has added a few new classes to its schedule. One class, Pom, offers the excitement of dancing with pom-poms to people who are not on a dance or cheer team, and for those who seek to brush up their technique.

Although the studio has dance in the name, that isn’t the owner’s only focus. The company will offer classes like PiYo that merge yoga and Pilates together.

“I want to get more involved in the nutrition side of things, like a youth specialist in nutrition,” Ouellette said. “We also want to teach anatomy. To be aware of your body is important to staying healthy. We want to create awareness in youth and adults about how to have a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.”

Ouellette seeks to provide a well-rounded fitness education to clients by possessing an American Council on Exercise Group Fitness Instructor certificate and she also holds an Angel Bear’s children’s yoga instructor certificate.

Both sisters started dancing at a young age and participated in multiple competitions. They were both members of the JDHS drill team, performed in several Janice Holst productions of the Grumpsicle and continue to improve their dance education through varying programs.

Baxter was on the JDHS World Championship team that competed in Nagoya, Japan for Miss Dance/Drill Team International the year before she entered high school. She also performed as a finalist in a Universal Dance Association competition featured on ESPN.

Ouellette was also part of the Miss Dance/Drill Team competitions in California. She attended summer intensives at Pacific Northwest Ballet Company and performed as a backup dancer for “Weird” by Al Yankovic.

The new dance studio is located near Costco. Fusion Dance will be holding a Summer Dance Camp for ages 6-8 and 9-11 from 8 a.m. to noon, Aug. 11-15. They also will be holding a Mini Dance Camp for 3-5 year olds. The camp will be 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 20-22. Both camps will teach kids the basics of all dance styles in addition to things like anatomy and yoga. Fall dance classes begin Sept. 6.

The sister’s hope to keep expanding their business. In the future, they would like to offer more social events mixed with a workout. They want to offer a Zumba night that would include a nightlife atmosphere complete with lights and an instructor to teach Zumba.

When asked about why dance is important, Baxter said it’s a “home away from home and a place to express ourselves.

“Anytime we have stress, it’s always nice to come to the studio and dance it off,” she continued. “It gives me true joy to teach dance. It is amazing to see struggling students excel and to see their smile and pride when they finally master a step that has been hard for them. We want to teach kids to be passionate about being healthy and doing what they love.”

“I want to pass it down to our kids,” Ouellette added. “We want to teach our children, and the kids within the community, how to be fit and healthy at a young age. We want to create a place where youth find encouragement to be healthy and to make good choices.”

The company plans to hold its first winter showcase in December at Thunder Mountain High School. Check out its website for more details about classes and upcoming appearances at www.alaskadance.com.

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