After seven years on Wantagh Avenue, Xtreme Rhythm Dance Academy of Wantagh has shimmied its way to a new location on Sunrise Highway, in an effort to be more centralized in the community.
Owner and instructor Jessica Taylor, 29, said the new studio, at 3253 Sunrise Highway, is larger than the previous one. It’s next door to DJ’s Clam Shack Wantagh. Friends, family, dancers, officials and members of the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce formally unveiled the new spot on Sept. 15 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought more children and teen performers to Xtreme, Taylor said, and the new spot offers two practice rooms to accommodate them. “Our business grew — I wouldn’t say thanks to Covid, because we definitely lost some kids,” Taylor said, “but we did gain some new dancers that are part of our team.”
Taylor, of Little Neck, will operate the studio with three other instructors, and offer multiple forms of dance. Hip-hop, ballet, acro, jazz and other courses are offered from September to June for toddlers to young adults, with recitals at the end of the classes. Taylor also instructs competitive teams in the studio.
Taylor is no amateur dancer: She graduated from Long Island High School for the Arts, in Plainview, and was later selected for the Broadway Dance Center’s “professional semester,” during which she trained with well-known choreographers. She has danced competitively for eight years, choreographed schools and summer shows, and even performed with a New York Giants’ dance team in 2011, the year they won Super Bowl XLVI. The team was not affiliated with the National Football League.
Taylor said she enjoys challenging her students and watching them succeed, and isn’t afraid to keep them on a strict regime. “Every teacher has their different takes on how they want to teach things,” she said. “I’m huge on discipline and responsibility and pushing them — I think that’s a big part of dance. I always tell my kids, ‘Get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. Diamonds are made under pressure. Always push yourself.’”
Wantagh resident Heather Deutsch said that five years ago, her then 8-year-old daughter, Rosie, was looking for a local studio where she could perform acro dance. Rosie was immediately “hooked on Ms. Jessica’s personality,” Heather recounted. “It exploded from there. She wanted to do everything. … Jessica engages the kids, cares about them, and has created teams that are bonded with one another.”
Rosie, who attends Jonas E. Salk Middle School in
Levittown, has been dancing with a competitive Xtreme team for three years. Her mother said the larger venue still offers the same sense of community. “I think people feel more like they have a sense of belonging because they’ve grown with [the studio],” she said.
Maria Catalano, of Merrick, said she had seen a “transformation” in her 6-year-old daughter, Frankie Schoptmann, as a result of the classes at Xtreme. Catalano said that Frankie was looking forward to taking competitive classes in the new studio.
“She has grown so much,” Catalano said. “Her confidence is improving across the board. What she’s learning in dance is so much more than dance. She’s learning determination, resilience and what it means to be on a team.”