Vail Valley: Dancers feel the burn at Eagle studio |

Vail Valley: Dancers feel the burn at Eagle studio

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO, Colorado

Hip hop, salsa and a little bit of jazz. Put those together and what do you get? Cardio dance in the Vail Valley.

That’s the focus of a new dance studio Eagle resident Lee Harding opened on Chambers Avenue earlier this month. The cardio dance classes she teaches here take an artsy approach to the exercise class.

“It’s not an aerobics class and it’s not a step class,” Harding said. “There’s a lot more choreography to a cardio dance class. There’s a lot more stretching as well as cardio, so you’re sculpting your muscles and you’re stretching them out.”

Harding, 40, said she traded in her job as a real estate agent to pursue her passion for dance.

“All my life I’ve wanted to do what I love the most, which is dance, and this space came up as an opportunity. It fell into my lap out of the blue,” she said.

Once an upholstery warehouse, this studio has become a place where Harding cultivates the arts. She spent thousands of dollars to renovate the 800-square-foot space.

“I want to make this space somewhere people can go for cultural education,” she said.

Along with cardio dance and private ballroom lessons, the studio houses children’s theater.

Harding offers four-week theater camps that culminate in shows such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” and “Winnie the Pooh.” Children ages 5 through 11 are eligible for the shows.

“It’s more like a day care theater camp,” Harding said. “There’s not a lot of day care in the valley at all. I’m offering to look after your kids and teach them something while I do.”

Originally from South Africa, Harding has been living in the Eagle Valley for 20 years. Dance has long been a part of her life. She has danced on a cruise ship, performed in cabarets and taught jazz for four years at the Vail Valley Academy of Dance in Edwards.

When it came to opening the dance studio, Harding saw two major benefits. She could spend time with her 5-year-old daughter and stay in shape.

“Now that I’m older, I need the cardio dance to keep the weight off,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of moms down here who have just had kids who feel the same way I do. Most little girls went to dance, and now they’re mothers and they don’t want to go to an open jazz class. They want to do something kind of dance-y because they can dance and they did dance but they also want to get their body fit.”

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