Vail Valley parents step in to save Studio 8100 dance school
June 16, 2017
EAGLE COUNTY — The dance parents of Studio 8100 were a week past the annual Mother's Day recital when they received some hard news: the studio was closing.
Dance mom Sarah Johnson said a combination of factors, from rent to keeping teachers hired, had turned founder Hilde Falk into a largely one-woman show. With about 130 dancers enrolled, that was too much show for one woman to handle.
In the following days, a number of dance parents scrambled to look for options, finally landing on a solution familiar to long-time valley residents: "We'll make this work ourselves."
In a matter of a few weeks, parents have created a nonprofit group, Dance Assist. They've appointed a board and have found an interim artistic director, Martin Nieves, the senior festival manager of the Vail International Dance Festival.
"It's an exciting effort," Nieves said, adding that he'll probably spend the next year or so helping the new Studio 8100 get on its feet. The studio will continue operations, probably starting in August.
"We're blessed to live in a community that has people who are able and willing to give of themselves," Nieves said.
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Davy Gorsuch grew up in Vail. He attended Vail Mountain School and skied with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and raced in Buddy Werner League races. All of those Vail institutions were founded by parents who wanted to create opportunities for their kids.
With a family of his own now, Gorsuch has dived headlong into being a dance dad. Reached by phone while on a family trip, Gorsuch said his 8-year-old daughter loves the dance studio and the performing arts. That passion, along with the passion of so many other studio students, is driving parents to do the large amount of work required to keep the operation running.
Johnson's daughter is 11 and also dedicated to learning and performing.
Coming from a family business dedicated to outdoor living, Gorsuch said the performing arts are important for kids, too.
"I would love for this valley to be a place where you don't have to be a ski racer," Johnson said.
As the valley and its kids branch out from the outdoors and athletics, studio supporters say it's important to have outlets for kids with other interests.
Studio 8100 "is an important part of the community," Gorsuch said. That community encompasses the entire valley, too. A portion of the current fundraising is for scholarships.
"It's really a space for kids to feel comfortable and to build community with each other," Johnson said.
Gorsuch added that both boys and girls at the studio are finding out more about themselves, and there are kids who share their passion.
"It's kind of a 'Footloose' thing," Gorsuch said, referring to the 1980s movie.
It's been barely a month since parents got word about Studio 8100 closing, but action tends to change moods.
"We're 90 percent there," Gorsuch said.
The new, nonprofit group is close to negotiating a new lease for the studio's existing space in Avon's Traer Creek Plaza building. And there's already talk about how to expand what the studio does, including teaching adult classes.
Supporters say reviving Studio 8100 could be part of a larger effort to put more focus on the arts.
Gorsuch's wife, Abbey Fox, said the valley could use a bigger performing arts center. A grassroots effort to keep a second dance studio thriving in the valley could help in that effort, if not now, then perhaps in years to come.
"You want to think about what you can do, for your own kids and for the future," Fox said. "It's been great to see what's been done."
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.