A Wheeling dance studio is changing hands, with the retirement of its long-time owner--and its purchase by a long-time student.
Burkhart Dancentre, owned and operated for 37 years by Sherry Williams Burkhart, has now been purchased by Sherry's longtime student, Chelsea (Saus) Kisner.
"I started taking dance lessons from Sherry when I was 2 1/2 years old," Chelsea recalls. "It was the beginning of a life-long love of dance, but also of a life-long friendship with Sherry."
Since then, Chelsea took every class, danced in every recital and public appearance, taught at the studio, and helped with the dance program at Bethany College, while she was there getting her bachelor's degree.
Sherry says she sought out Chelsea as the one to continue the studio's work for a reason.
"Burkhart Dancentre has a strong tradition of excellence in ballet and pointe," she noted. "Chelsea is particularly strong in those areas. I remember the first time she put on pointe shoes. She rose up, straight and elegant, and I knew we had something special here." Sherry believes ballet is the discipline from which all other forms of dance can spring.
Burkhart's, located in the second floor of the YWCA Wheeling at 11th and Chapline streets, offers classes in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, acro, cheernastics, and more. (A Mommy and Me class will also be offered if there is sufficient demand.) Parents waiting for their children can get fit with Zumba lessons (Chelsea is a certified Zumba instructor) or participate in adult classes.
Last year's recital included an adult tap number featuring the moms, joined by their daughters at the end. There was also a touching number that had little girls dancing with their dads, grandfathers and step-dads. (There wasn't a dry eye in the audience!" says Sherry.)
Burkhart's is unique in that its dancers don't automatically leave the studio when they graduate from high school. "My dancers have come back year after year, through college and beyond," noted Sherry. "They are an invaluable resource to the studio, helping, inspiring the younger students, while they continue their own love of dance. There is no magic cut-off point for dancers, and my students prove that." And in these days of "wardrobe malfunctions" and Miley Cyrus-type performances, Burkhart Dancentre is committed to family- friendly choreography, costumes and music.
Chelsea is joined by a full staff of experienced dance teachers, and by her husband Tom Kisner, who will be the studio manager.
For more information, call (304) 312-1687.